bill-hartzergloberunner logoBy Bill Hartzer, Globe Runner

There have been some new updates and changes since I last wrote about SEO and Domain Names (http://www. thedna.org/seo-and-domainname-best-practices-whitepaper-june-2015/) in the last issue of the State of the Domains report. But some things never change: a good keyword-rich or brandable domain name will help your online marketing and SEO.

The most public development related to search and domain names occurred when Google started a new parent company named Alphabet (https:// abc.xyz). They purposely chose a new TLD for their website, and that fueled growth of the .XYZ TLD (http://www.eweek. com/cloud/alphabet-fuels-. xyz-domain-name-growth.html). Google single-handedly brought a huge amount of visibility to the new domain extensions. While we saw a large increase in the domain name registrations of .XYZ domains, we didn’t see a lot of new websites being developed on those recently registered domains. Next year around this time, I’ll certainly be checking to see how many of those Alphabetinspired registrations are renewed and how many of those have actually been developed.

Globe Runner has updated our search engine marketing research and testing around the new domain extensions, especially our PPC study. At the Afilias Internet Summit, held during the last week of September in Beijing, China, we released our latest updated white paper, which includes updated statistics. Back in May 2014, we found that domains of new extensions were converting at about 34 percent, and .COMs were converting at about 52 percent. It cost more to advertise using a .COM than a new domain extension. However, over a year and a half later, that has all changed. New domain extensions are converting at about the same rate–but .COM domains are converting now at a record low, of nearly 20 percent. It still costs more to advertise using a .COM domain name than using a new domain extension. Here are some quick stats from our updated research:

Results: Average CPC

3Carat.Diamonds: $.77 Sept. 2015 vs $.69 in Jan 2015 vs. $.77 in May 2014

3CaratDiamonds.com: $.83 Sept 2015 vs $.82 (vs. $.81 in May 2014)

Conclusions: 23% Conversion Rate on .COM, 35% on .Diamonds in September 2015.

Previously, January 2015: 31.76% Conversion Rate on .COM, 29.11% on .Diamonds

Previously, May 2014: 52% Conversion Rate on .COM, 36% on .Diamonds

New gTLDs convert much higher than .COM. Conversions on .COM continue to deteriorate.

Domain-Con-Rate-Com

Effective CPM:

Still costs 2x as much to advertise a .COM than a .Diamonds

Search Engine Marketing (PPC) is one thing: we’re seeing some really good results by using new domain extensions and Google AdWords. But what’s going on with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and new domain extensions? From an organic search standpoint, we are continuing to see more and more websites built on new domain extensions show up in the actual search results at Google and Bing. Google in particular has made it clear, more than once, that the new domain name extensions have the same “chance” as any other TLD to rank well in the search results, and I have to agree. I know of several cases where great websites built on new domain extensions are ranking well for their main keywords. That’s because they’re great websites with good, solid content. The search engines reward all websites with good content, regardless of the URL or domain name extension. I don’t expect this to change any time soon.

Campaign-May-2014-Sept-2015

When it comes to search engine rankings, a strategy of good content, properly promoted (through links and social media) is best. Some of the 200+ search engine ranking factors include how other websites refer to your website, and it makes it a lot easier if your website is on a new domain extension that includes your top keyword or main keyword. Real people are more likely to link to you using your main keyword or topic if your website on that topic also includes a keyword-rich domain extension.

Moving from one TLD (such as from a .COM, .NET, or .ORG) to a new domain name extension is not complicated and can be done safely. There should really be no significant search engine ranking drops or loss of search traffic when moving. I have written before about moving to a new domain name extension and have comprehensive checklists for doing so (contact me and I’ll be happy to send you one). Essentially, the process involves time and some technical issues:

– pre-plan the move

– crawl your website and make note of the URLs

– move your content to the new domain name

– set up canonical tags from the old domain to the new domain name

– give the search engines time to crawl the new content and take the canonical tags into account (usually at least a month)

– once you’re confident traffic has moved to the new domain, set up 301 permanent redirects

– check the redirects once you’ve moved

– continue marketing your site, perhaps with a new marketing initiative to promote the new domain name

Moving to a new domain name extension, especially if that domain name includes your main keyword(s) or topics can be a boost to your brand and overall marketing efforts. I strongly recommend considering a move now, especially if you can take advantage of the available domain inventory that’s out there.

Campaign-Jan-Sept-2015