The great Top Level Domain (TLD) debate. It divides us, webbers, techies, and SEOs. Should you just have a .com as nothing else really works as well? Or is it ok to try one of this new-fangled dot.XYZ or dot.Shop as people who are searching and visiting your website don’t really care. The more astute of you will have already noticed our very own BuzzWeb website is a .biz. So really, you already know on which side of the debate where we stand.
What is a TLD?
Before we get started digging into the whys and wherefores of TLDs, We better figure out the terminology of it all. A top-level domain or TLD is the final part of your domain name. These are also known as domain extensions or domain endings.
The most common form of the TLD is .com., But there are lots of other popular TLDs which include .gov, .net, .and .edu. Which are normally reserved for specific types of websites. There are also country-code top-level domains (ccTLDs) like .ca (Canada), .uk (United Kingdom), and .in (India). Currently, as Per ICANN, there are approx 1,532 TLDs for businesses to choose from.
Of course, none of that actually answers the question of should you choose a dot com over say a dot.Works.
Is a dot.com better for SEO?
Ok, as an SEO, let me tell you I actually don’t really think it matters at all. As long as your keyword is in the URL, it’s short, and it’s friendly to search engines, that’s all that matters for that, in my opinion. When people search they use a keyword and not a TLD. And ultimately, google doesn’t care either. They recently stated as much.
“Using a new domain ending will not hurt your search presence” – a direct quote from Google’s own guide on this very matter Traditional vs. New Domain Endings. Google has lots to look at on your website in deciding to Rank it or not, your TLD is the last thing on its mind.
Do dot.coms rank better overall? Yeah, sure they do. But, the reason for this is nothing to do with the TLD, dot.coms are just traditional, older and the large brands out there have been using them for years. So it is less about the TLD and more about time. As the new TLDs progress and everyone gets used to them, this should iron out.
The other school of thought that surrounds TLDs is centered on branding. Would having a dot.biz or dot.xyz really hurt your brand? Personally again, I actually don’t think it does. It could be argued that it will depend on how you are planning on getting your traffic. If it’s through search (the vast majority of web traffic is through search) then, I doubt most people will even notice. If via social media/paid traffic – same. What most people worry about here is direct traffic.
When someone knows the name of the site and types that directly into the address bar. This is because most people will automatically type for example buzzweb.com, again due to that being the norm. They may be right, a few people will do this. But direct traffic really does not account for much of the web traffic out there. If you are doing what you should be doing and you are motivated into pushing your brand awareness, direct traffic won’t be your issue.
The fact is, for me, when it comes to Brand Awareness, an unusual TLD could well help you. It will get you remembered at the very least. I mean, are you going to forget dogwalker.gay anytime soon?
The last part of this whole thing may be the most important. Does having a dot.com give my business legitimacy? This again is one for the ages. It’s all about how people see the traditional dot.com vs dot.biz or others. People are just people and most do not like change, so it’s going to take a while for people to get used to the new TLDs.
However, there is a truth to it. People do see a dot.com or even a .co.UK/th/in as being older, stable, and more legitimate than the newer TLDs. This will take time to change people’s perceptions, so there isn’t a lot we can do about it.
My advice is to buy a new TLD and go for it. They are ultimately cheaper, it doesn’t negatively affect your SEO. And when people click through ads or advertising, they just won’t notice. The fact is that a dot.com with an English dictionary keyword in it will cost you a lot of money a start-up can rarely afford. A simple URL like buzzweb.com was $5000. On the flip to that buzzweb.biz… Less than $10.