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Does a free top level domain such as .tk or .ga affect your websites SEO?

If it does:

  1. Why does it affect SEO?
  2. How does it affect SEO?

2 Answers 2

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Country code top-level domains (ccTLD's) such as .tk (Tokelau, New Zealand) and .ga (Gabon) have extra weight in their own country's search engine (like google.tk and google.ga for instance) but that is as far as it goes.

That being said however, some ccTLD are considered gTLD (generic) by Google, .tk being one of them as can be seen under the 'More about domain determination' section here (thanks to Stephen in the comments). ccTLD's are an extra signal for Google to perceive the site as likely being more relevant to users in those regions/countries.

Google's John Mueller said this on the matter just in July 2015.

Q: What about real ccTLDs (country code top-level domains) : will Google favour ccTLDs (like .uk, .ae, etc.) as a local domain for people searching in those countries?

A: By default, most ccTLDs (with exceptions) result in Google using these to geotarget the website; it tells us that the website is probably more relevant in the appropriate country. Again, see our help centre for more information on multi-regional and multilingual sites.

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    Google considers .tk to be a generic top level domain. Your answer is not correct for .tk. Google would allow your to target a .tk site worldwide. .ga is not on Google's list of generic top level domains, so your answer is correct for it. Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 18:13
  • I had to look up .tk myself as I was not familiar with it but I went by Wikipedia that labels it a ccTLD.
    – zigojacko
    Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 7:21
  • It is a country code domain, but Google treats it as generic for SEO. If you click on "More about domain determination" on support.google.com/webmasters/answer/62399?hl=en&rd=1 it has a list of country code domains that it treats as generic because they are used around the world. Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 9:15
  • I see now, useful to know, thanks for clarifying Stephen. I edited the answer to include your correction.
    – zigojacko
    Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 9:37
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1) It doesn't.

2) It doesn't

Why should it? Search engines care about content alone.

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    Paying for a domain name is a minimal signal that you are not a spammer. Paid domains, especially those with multi-year registrations are more likely to be trusted quickly by search engines. Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 18:10
  • @StephenOstermiller At a minimum but you do have a point. They will be trusted "quicker", not "quickly". But let's make a test to the extreme. If SO was on a free host, would that matter in its rankings?
    – Rob
    Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 18:16

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