Can moving to a new TLD boost search rankings?

Linda Buquet

1
Staff member
Moderator
Very interesting, thanks Tim!

Part of it could even just be moving from EricBlockLaw.com to Jacksonville.anything, but seems Jacksonville.ATTORNEY would help.

I always wondered. Especially in local where Google seems to love KWs in the domain. But we've discussed this here before & I think the consensus was no, the new TLDs don't help ranking.

Other thoughts or case studies to share anyone???
 

Phil Rozek

Top Contributor
Not me. A few problems with that post:

1. It?s sponsored and promotional. The info may be valid, but you need to take it with a fistful of salt.

2. The author cites one example.

3. Presumably there was more SEO going on in the background. Even on the off-chance they weren?t doing any work in those few months, Google was changing and local competitors may have come and gone. The TLD change didn?t happen in a vacuum.

A few problems with switching over to new GLTDs in general:

4. You have to redirect your links, and will probably lose a little juice.

5. People don?t know how to use them yet. They see ?ABCLawFirm.Attorney? and think, ?Where?s the rest of their URL?? Nice way to hemorrhage word-of-mouth traffic to the competitor with the .com version.

6. Let?s say Google eventually sees enough authoritative legal / law-firm sites with .attorney TLDs that they conclude having one is a likely indicator of quality. It would still take a distant backseat to a great link profile and tons of in-depth content on your services.

7. They cost an arm, a leg, and a reproductive organ.

I have a relatively new attorney client who forked over for a .legal. Didn't do a damn thing for him.
 
That "study" got a lot of coverage.

Firstly, if you look closely at the analytics proof, there isnt that much actual traffic. Secondly, there was an aggressive link campaign and a lot of content added.

You can run the attorney's site in Ahrefs and archive.org

Building links works (unless you run afoul of penguin) especially combined with content.
 
Want to make sure I give credit to a thoroughly researched blog post on the faulty study .

Managed to dig up Conrad's analysis of the study (Conrad Saam developed Avvo and ran Urban Spoon's marketing team. What's really notable is his authorship of the Findlaw Jailbreak Guide).

Again, the old site used syndicated content and the new site produced a lot of quality content and had an aggressive link building campaign (70 Referring Domains that showed up in Majestic). An absurd amount in a short time from a solo practitioner.
 

Chris_Gregory

Local Search Expert
I agree with the comments here but will add that I wouldn't discount the exact match keywords in the domain regardless of TLD. We've seen significantly less authority websites with exact match domains populate the maps and even organics with no other identifying advantage. I think it's situational but the last couple local algo tweaks have increased the EMD proliferation again.

Also, here is a full keyword report that wasn't present in the initial article. Since Jacksonville is our market, I spent some time researching just how well this site ranks:
https://dagmarmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/jacksonville.attorney-report.pdf

Once you get too far away from Jacksonville Attorney / Jacksonville Lawyer keywords the site doesn't rank well. I believe this is due to the strength of the EMD with Lawyer being a close permutation to Attorney.

Even though you can argue these keywords aren't the best converting keywords since they are not niche specific there still is relevant traffic.

I agree there are more variables here than just an EMD but to be fair the EMD does correlate with their best ranking keywords.

Is an EMD still an advantage - in my opinion - yes by a small margin from a purely ranking perspective. Where it will fall short is the keywords that don't exactly match the keywords in the domain and the loss of user recognition from a non .com TLD. This is still marketing and the user should take precedence over the search engines.

In my opinion the money and effort that was spent on this would have been better served spent on the main domain and building internal links to the pages that have an exact match URL /personal-injury-attorney-jacksonville then focusing on just an exact match domain.

- Chris
 

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JoyHawkins

1
Staff member
Administrator
Wow. That piece by Conrad was SOLID! Thanks for sharing Jacob.

In case you guys missed it, there was a great discussion about EMDs over here on the forum and the conclusion overall was that yes, they do work still. So along with what Eric was saying I think it's more just having keywords in general in the domain that can still help (not the TLD).

Here was another case recently I saw that was praising the new TLDs. This was for a car dealership. Thoughts?
 

djbaxter

Administrator
Staff member
Administrator
Vanity TLD Domain Names Don't Impart a Ranking Boost
Threadwatch.org
June 14, 2016

Last week I highlighted a story from SEL where the writer claimed that a lawyer who switched to .attorney saw a big ranking boost. Turns out that article was probably a bunch of BS! Jennifer Slegg at The SEM Post did some good investigating and has the scoop here. It smelled a little fishy to me at the time - the claims it was making sounded way too broad - like a domain change could help anyone and everyone.

Slegg asked Gary Illyes about it and he replied that "I think in many cases, those who are recommending businesses to get those .attorney and .travel and .events TLDs have their hands in the honeypot as well. So probably they are getting some commission off recommending these...truth is we can't give a flying crap about what the TLD is if it is a gTLD."

And what do you know! the article on SEL was a sponsored post from a business who sells .attorney type gTLDs! I must have missed that on my first reading. So it all makes sense now. Don't believe everything you read!
 
No matter what G's official stance on EMD's is, I have witnessed the effect on businesses time and time again. The TLD extension counts, and carry weight in relevance, as long as the content supports the TLD.

Same theory works with the name of the business.

Great contribution.
 

heckler

Forum Member
The TLD extension counts, and carry weight in relevance, as long as the content supports the TLD.

I don't trust most of what G says, but Mr. Mueller hasn't steered me wrong yet. We've looked at domains to nausea. EMD domains outperform everything else.

If you take your relevant content on your new KW extension domain, I'll put the exact same content onto a EMD and outperform it (assuming back-links are similar). Maybe that changes a year from now, but that's reality currently.
 

djbaxter

Administrator
Staff member
Administrator
To be clear, I don't think there's any doubt that Exact Match Domains (EMDs) do help.

What Google is saying is that the Top Level Domain (TLD, e.g., .com, .info, .attorney, .net, .org, etc.) does not matter, something they have said to be true since the 90s.

The exception I think is still the regional TLDs (.ca, .uk.co, etc.) which help a bit for ranking in regional Google searches, although it is not the only factor (geolocation of server is another); whether that makes any difference at all in local search I don't know.
 

JoyHawkins

1
Staff member
Administrator
So this is a very interesting example that Gyi shared on Facebook.

Type in SEO agency into Google and look at the top ranking website and then check out these stats from Moz on the site. SEO Agency.jpg
 
Looking at SEO searches is weird, clearly Google treats them different. Like the search "SEO Agency" is clearly for a local business but I get no pack and local businesses in different states (signed in, non-incognito).
 

heckler

Forum Member
They have a 3rd (or more) of their back-link anchors with variations of 'seo agency' in them (fresh index #majestic):

2016-06-17_1214.jpg

Historic Index shows 1,200+ back-links with a varied footprint (a lot of different ref domains and IPs - most of which target the term 'seo agency'):

2016-06-17_1215.jpg

I think this is a good example of how powerful images links can be and maybe I need to be using them more, but I don't think this is a 'good' example of a TLD ranking for a specific KW, they've obviously done work to target that 'seo agency' with their back-linking strategy.

It is however interesting to me to think about how Google may give additional relevance to anchors including seo.agency. Does Google understand that seo.agency is the domain or are they calculating seo AND agency as topical relevance and not just 'seo'? hmmm

Moz for back-link research is almost completely worthless in my experience.
 

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