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I have to choose between my keyword + an uncommon TLD and my keyword with a prefix/suffix + .com. In general, is there a difference for SEO? I think some TLDs like .co are confirmed to rank lower.

For example, if my target keyword is example, is example.info or the-example.com better?

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    Just to note that whilst .co is officially a ccTLD (for Columbia), Google treats it as a gTLD because of how it has been used. – MrWhite Nov 1 '15 at 13:31
  • Therefore how .co vs. .com performs depends upon which Google site you hit. – closetnoc Nov 1 '15 at 14:19
  • @closetnoc But, "Google treats it as a gTLD". (?) – MrWhite Nov 1 '15 at 14:33
  • @w3d Not sure what you mean. Is not .co a ccTLD?? If that is the case, how it performs depends upon the Google SE. For example, it would be reasonable to think that a .co site in Google.co (not sure there is one, but let's pretend anyway) could more easily outperform a .com and the converse would be true for Google.com. – closetnoc Nov 1 '15 at 14:40
  • @closetnoc (Sorry, my wording wasn't the best.) In the document I linked to, Google states that they treat certain ccTLDs as gTLDs (because some ccTLDs have ended up being predominantly used in a global context and Google recognises this). There are 19 ccTLDs listed, of which .co is one of them. So, in Googles eyes at least, both .co and .com are considered gTLDs. support.google.com/webmasters/answer/1347922 – MrWhite Nov 1 '15 at 15:38
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Google's page on this is here.

In short, they claim that all a TLD is used for is to help with the geo-targeting. Geo-targeting does have SEO benefit if you are based in a specific country, as results are localised.

  • Sounds like you have your wired crossed, I assume you mean ccTLD are used for GEO targetting, because TLD are different. – Simon Hayter Nov 1 '15 at 17:15
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    A ccTLD is a group of TLD, so it is still a TLD. If my comment was unclear : the only data Google claim to use from any type of TLD is any location information found. Hence, if your TLD has no information about location, they will use no information from it. – Richard B Nov 1 '15 at 18:04
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    Should also mention this page where Google lists the country TLDs that they treat as generic TLDs. – DisgruntledGoat Nov 2 '15 at 12:30
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I wouldn't be surprised if there are more .com sites with strong rankings than there are .co sites. But you should remember that:

  • there are far more .com sites out there
  • .com has been on general availability for much longer, so we would expect some very strong websites to have emerged over time

So although you may see fewer .co sites with strong rankings, that isn't evidence that the TLD itself is to blame. It's just a correlation, and we have no reason to believe that Google treats .co sites as less trustworthy or important than .com sites.

As Richard B has pointed out, ccTLDs send a signal about country-level targeting. If this isn't a priority for you, I would encourage you to buy the better brand name with the uncommon TLD. You are more likely to create a memorable name this way. Sticking with your example, I'd be far more likely to remember example.co than the-example.com. The first name is clear; the second clumsy and forgettable.

  • ".com has been around for much longer" - no it hasn't, .co has been around since 1991 (it was originally for Colombian sites only). – DisgruntledGoat Nov 2 '15 at 12:31
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Officially Google treats all TLDs similar. But that also means that the uncommon TLD is not worse than .com. A URL has little value for SEO, but there are some other important points which can signify that you will rank higher. If you can get keyword.uncommonTLD instead of a second rate .com (e.g. GetKeyword.com or MyKeyword.com):

Click through rate: If you can manage to get to page 1 in Google an uncommon TLD will make you stand out in the SERPs, where the other nine results are .com. Your keyword in the domain will be in bold, which will also add to the chances of a higher CTR.

Anchor text: When you're linked to it's normal to either use the brand name or domain name as the anchor text. In the case of coffee.club, they managed to rank high for "coffee club" because of the anchor text.

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