ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, have recently announced that over 1000 global Top Level Domains (gTLDs) are now available. These new gTLDs, introduced in the last 3 years, include .coffee, .xyz, .website and even company specific examples such as .sky, for the leading European entertainment company.
Many assumptions were made long ago about the SEO benefit of gTLDs with some praising them as a fabled hack to boost SERP performance and others rolling their eyes, believing they've heard it all before. The truth seems to lie somewhere in the middle of those extreme camps with a number of sites now using the new gTLDs to great effect.
To get a few points out of the way: Google crawls all gTLDs in the same way, so whether you're .xyz or .com it should make no difference (according to various quotes from Google representatives). Additionally, many were led to believe that some new gTLDs would have serious SEO benefit because they would allow you to include search keywords in your URL. The truth is that a new domain won't save you – if you're suffering from poor SERP results then it's likely you have deeper problems related to your content, site structure or something else entirely! That's not to say a good gTLD won't help you along the way to achieving great SEO results though.
Google have expressed how they handle all gTLDs clearly via several channels, primarily pointing people to their site move documentation
, which will help if you're looking to move a current site to any new domain, including newer gTLDs. The only main distingusing point that Google have raised is for country specific ccTLDs (country code Top Level Domains). Here they say they will generally favour local ccTLDs for searches within that country (i.e. .uk for somebody searching from the UK).
So, how does all this help if you're looking to launch a new site or move a current one? One clear benefit is the amount of choice on offer. Practically all valuable .com and .co.uk domains have long since been taken up, so newer gTLDs now provide alternative options for new brands, as well as those looking for a new Exact Match Domain (EMD). A significant downside is that cost can be high for these newer options. The recently launched .game has seen close to 1000 registrations in the first 24 hours with over a third of these costing in excess of $1000. To some big businesses, such as Microsoft, Blizzard and Activision, this registration is certainly worth it for brand protection alone.
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