New Top Level Domains (nTLDs)
A generic top-level domains is like .com, .net and .org.
There’s another kind of domain that’s associated with countries called Country Code top-level Domain (ccTLD). Examples of ccTLDs are .uk and .ru.
There are other kinds of domains known as sponsored top-level domains. Examples of sponsored top-level domains are .edu and .mil.
The question that John Mueller answered had to do with a new kind of domain that are called, new top-level domains (nTLDs).
An nTLD is a generic top-level domain that is usually made up of a keyword.As mentioned above, typical examples of nTLDs are .tool and .shopping but also .job, .dentist and .marketing.
Question About SEO Benefits of nTLD Keyword Domains
The question sought to understand how Google indexed nTLDs and if there were any benefits.
Google’s Mueller answered the question and expanded on his answer to include possible SEO benefits.
This is the question:
“I’d like to know how Google indexes sites with new extensions like dot club or dot tools.
Is there any preference for indexing dot com domains over these?”
Generic Top Level Domains are Treated Equally
Google’s John Mueller answered:
“So we treat all of the New Top-level Domains like any other generic top-level domain.
So there is no kind of additional value to having keywords in the top-level domain. There’s no additional value in having city names or country names in the top-level domain.
We treat them all like any other generic top-level domain, like leica.com, essentially.
So from that point of view, if you find a domain name that works well for your site that you want to keep for the long run and it’s a New top-level Domain then definitely go for it. I think that’s perfectly fine.”
No SEO “Bonus” for New Top Level Domains
Google’s Mueller then added that there are no SEO benefits to a keyword matched nTLD.
“But also keep in mind that there is no kind of bonus for using a particularly well matching top-level domain.
It’s not that we would, from an SEO point of view, treat those as anything better than other generic top-level domains.”
How Google Treats Top Level Domains
Google has a history of treating generic top level domains differently from country code top level domain (.uk, .ru, etc.).
Google uses many country code level domains (ccTLDs) as a signal of what country Google should show a web page in, to localize the search result of a web page that uses a country code domain.
That’s why in general people in the USA might not see results from a .uk domain and why search results in Ireland may show preference to a .ie domain.
According to a Google support page about internationalization:
“If your site has a country-coded top-level domain (such as .ie or .fr) it is already associated with a geographic region (in this example, Ireland or France).
If you use a country-coded domain, you won’t be able to specify a geographic location. You can specify a target country in the International Targeting report.”
Understanding that Google treated many ccTLDs as a geographic localization ranking signal may have inspired SEOs to wonder if Google showed preference to other kinds of domains.
For example, the SEO community has long believed that .edu domains had special ranking power and because of that, links from .edu websites have been prized higher than links from common generic top level domains like .com.
Yet Googlers have long insisted that Google does not treat .edu sites any differently than other generic top level domains. Although .edu domains are a sponsored top level domain, John Mueller’s answer can be seen as being in harmony with previous statements about not showing any indexing or ranking preference for a type of top level domain (with the documented exception of country code top level domains).
Mueller said that Google does not treat New Top Level Domains (nTLDs) differently from generic top level domains. That’s good information because it helps to fill in the knowledge gaps in how Google treats different generic top level domains. It also helps because we can rule out SEO benefits from a keyword related nTLD as a reason to register an nTLD.
There are many good reasons to register an nTLD. But according to Google’s John Mueller, SEO benefits is not one of the reasons.
Watch Google’s John Mueller Discuss SEO Value of New Top Level Domains
Roger Montti is a search marketer with 20 years experience.
I offer site audits and link building strategies.