As an industry, we should probably stop using SEO as an “advantage” in new gTLDs. It’s proving not to be necessary or advantageous for us when we do that. If SEO or PPC benefits are fair, the same, or slightly better in some cases, that’s all we really need. I think it should be a side-point.
A recent sponsored post by Rightside on the Search Engine Land website stated in the title that a lawyer “discovered that migrating from a .com to a .attorney domain can drive organic traffic and save on SEM costs”. Although I don’t doubt the veracity of any statement in the article, this is the second time an article like that stirred Google to respond in a way that undermines industry credibility. It happened before in 2012 when Adrian Kinderis titled and article, “New top-level domains to trump .com in Google search results”. Matt Cutts responded very publicly, within a day or two, stating, “Sorry, but that’s just not true…” This time a rebuke was issued seven days later on the exact same website where the sponsored post appeared. There have been a few other discrediting rebukes like this in between. You would think, as an industry, that we have learned by now.
I’d like to point out that Bill Hartzer’s research at Globerunner is fair and unbiased. He did his work in a clinical fashion and found a slight advantage on the side of new gTLDs related to pay per click advertising. But when we lead articles with this feature it seems to come off as exaggeration. Apparently Google bloggers don’t like it.
The truth is that we don’t need to do that and when we do, we may be hurting the overall reputation of new gTLDs and the industry in general. If new gTLDs are treated the same, and Google has stated that they are, that’s all that needs to be said. New gTLDs can offer tons of other benefits that traditional ones don’t. We should be trumping up those benefits along with the advantages that Mr. Hartzer has found in his research; but we should go out of our way not to come off as exaggerating. New gTLDs offer plenty of benefits in that they can be more focused, offer more creative choice, and often, be more natural and memorable to prospects.
I like what Donuts has been doing. It’s catchy and it’s very appealing. New gTLD proponents all benefit by this to promote new gTLDs in a positive way. It’s their “Not-Com Campaign“. Domains need to be creative, meaningful, searchable, memorable, and most important, AVAILABLE. That is plenty of ammunition and we haven’t even begun to see the new benefits they will offer.
One of the really big advantages I think many registries and registrars miss is FOCUS. New gTLDs offer more focus to your brand and to your industry. I recently registered Alagna.media as a test. Honestly, I don’t want to let it go! It sounds to cool (at least to me). If I were to start a media business (which I’m probably not going to do) I couldn’t imagine a nicer web address. It sounds big and it sounds focused.
New gTLDs are going to be fine! But as an industry, we have to be careful to be completely truthful. Bad stories and rebuts from Google do new gTLDs no good and do us no good. We’re a great industry and we can do better.