759 million of websites build the Internet we know today. Each one has a clear web address. Each of these addresses (“domain”) is made of a sequence of signs divided by full stops, for example www.werbeplanung.at. The last part of the address, in this case “.at” is the so-called “Top Level Domain” (TLD). Two types of TLD’s can be distinguished: the generic TLDs (gTLDs), as for example “.com” or “.biz”, and country-specific TLDs (country-code TLDs or ccTLDs), such as “.at” from “werbeplanung.at”.
With 760 million websites, the choice of free suitable domains shrank rapidly. Since long time, many website operators demanded from ICANN, the highest domain administrator of the Internet world, new Top-Level Domains. In 2012, it was possible to place a request at ICANN. 1.930 submissions were accepted. In the next few years, they will gradually be made available as TLDs. Among those, general address endings can be found, such as .love, .shop or .app, as well as brand domains (e.g. .bmw or .goog) and a number of geo-specific TLDs (e.g. .nyc, .boston, .paris). The first new generic TLDs are available since a few weeks, among which .tips, .email, .bike, .guru or .holdings. Further dozens are at the moment in phase of approval. For .wien, for example, the allocation process is currently running.
New TLDs from the SEO point of view
The variety of new TLDs does not only lead to happiness for online marketing professionals, but rather also to preoccupations. “Do we need them or not?”, is the crucial question.
“It depends on the scope”, is the right answer. For example, with the new TLDs, excellent suitable domains come into being. The domain “fahrrad.de” has been allocated long ago, “fahrrad.shop” would be a new alternative for a bicycles e-commerce provider. Otherwise, a second example: for a local Viennese business with an online presence, the domain .wien makes sense, because the domain itself refers to the geographic position and customers can make an easier connection between online and offline.
Through the lens of SEO, the answer is relative, at least with regard to short-term effects: a change to the new domain endings has very little effects on ranking. On the contrary: the multitude is potentially harmful for Google rankings, or at least not generating profitable situations.
Only two examples: you establish a new website under a new TLD and copy the content from the existing page to the new one. This would be a terrible idea. An important factor for a good position on the search results page of Google is “unique” content. However, offering ready content on an additional domain creates double content, so-called “duplicate content”. This would then be a procedure that would cause the drop of your website within search engine positions.
To avoid negative SEO effects, you can forward the traffic from the old page to the new one. Then, however, you make a lot of effort for no SEO benefits. Even if an important keyword is included in the new domain, an improvement of the rankings is not to be expected. For years, analyses show that keywords in the Top-Level Domain do not improve the ranking in the search engines. You should also remember that when you upgrade to a new TLD, you will start from scratch with link building. All links built with a lot of money and time are becoming worthless.
Relatively clear signals come from Google. It would not be possible to expect that the new TLDs would lead to an improvement in ranking. One should wait until the new domain endings on the market become established. Only when there is more clarity here, one will begin to adapt the search algorithm.
The long-term effects of the new TLDs is currently still difficult to evaluate. It is not to be excluded that Google sooner or later will include domain endings more strongly in the ranking. Thus, for example, e-commerce providers could profit from the ending .shop. Local providers, such as doctors, retailers or associations, could gain advantages in mobile search queries through the new geo-TLDs like .wien.
Who wants to be on the safe side then, should reserve the suitable TLDs now. When and how strongly it will be possible to profit from the SEO point of view, is still unknown.