Google is constantly changing its core algorithm through small daily updates, along with larger core updates – the most recent of which began on Mar 25, 2022, and finished on June 9, 2022. These updates can significantly change what factors impact website rankings.
Many elements can affect how your website ranks in search engines. The domain extension, or TLD, that you choose when purchasing a new domain name is an essential factor that you should consider.
What is a domain name?
Domain names include two main parts: TLDs and second-level domains.
Also known as the domain extension, TLD stands for top-level domain. It is the suffix that you use at the end of your domain name, and there are thousands to choose from. Some of the most common TLDs (called generic TLDs) include:
It is also common to have TLDs that relate to the specific country the website pertains to, such as .co.nz or simply .nz. These are called country code TLDs. The list of the most popular top-level domains worldwide as of June 2022 is dominated by .com, but also includes a lot of country-code TLDs.
Sometimes just referred to as the domain name, second-level domains come after TLDs in the domain hierarchy. These are the names that you purchase to represent your website’s unique location. For example, the second-level domains in the following websites are:
TLDs, Site Legitimacy, and SEO
Your domain name is a critical factor that audiences look at when determining the credibility of your brand. It is important to be aware that some generic TLDs have associations with spam websites. Using alternative generic TLDs (e.g. .country, .zip or .party) risks your audiences perceiving your site as harmful or, at least, illegitimate.
Therefore, most of the time, website owners will choose .com, because it is what customers are more likely to be familiar with and, subsequently, trust.
The good news with generic TLDs is that Google treats all generic TLDs equally. That implies that the generic TLD you choose is primarily determined by clicks. Some alternative generic TLDs like .tech or .org can add more industry specificity to your domain name.
However, Google treats country code top-level domains differently to help geotarget websites, thereby making these websites more relevant in specific countries.
Imagine two personal training services based in New Zealand with websites, where one has a .com TLD, and the other has a .co.nz TLD. If someone were to search “personal training services NZ”, the company with a .co.nz TLD would be more likely to appear on the first page of Google.
Consumers generally consider country-code TLDs to be as trustworthy as .com. To help boost how your geotargeting affects your site performance, you can also use your Google Search Console account to select what audience you wish to target and register your business through Google My Business. Ensuring the language used in your website matches your target country is also an important way to improve your chances of geotargeting success.
So – does my TLD affect SEO?
While generic top-level domains are all treated equally by Google in terms of SEO, they can affect how your audience judges the legitimacy of your website, thereby influencing your site traffic. The most common generic TLD is .com, which tends to be more desirable by consumers than other generic TLDs.
If you choose the wrong alternative generic TLD, you risk your audience dismissing your site as irrelevant or spam. However, some alternative generic TLDs help hone and target your site, which can take your branding to the next level.
Unlike generic TLDs, country-code TLDs do indeed get differential treatment from Google and have a direct association with SEO.
What TLD should I choose?
For expert, targeted advice in enhancing your SEO and choosing the best TLD for your business website, there is no better team than ours at Kiwi Website Design. Contact us today to find out more.