Should you go with a .com, .info, .org or dot-something else? Except in very rare instances, it’s almost always best to go with a .com domain name. Sure, you might need to do a .gov or a .edu, but for the vast majority of businesses a .com in your URL is best—for the reasons you may not be aware of.
Domain names have a long history in search engine optimization (SEO) strategies. It hasn’t always been for the “best” reasons and over time Google has adjusted for spammy SEO domain efforts. Today, the top-level domain (TLD) can still play a part of an overall search engine optimization (SEO) strategy and helps move websites up in the rankings.
You should be aware that SEO encompasses many things including high quality content, organically placed keywords, link building, the speed of the website, and a host of other things. However, a .com—instead of other options—is also great SEO fodder. It helps with “brandability” because let’s face it: a .com looks more authoritative, is more common, and is more popular than any other option. It is memorable – our minds are wired to think “dot com”!
Building Your Brand
Your website is the pillar from which you build your brand, and it starts with the URL. When users find you online, it’s the URL they remember, and it’s what they share with their friends on social media. It’s a rookie mistake to think that only links and keywords matter with SEO—the truth is that Google has an affinity for brands. This is evident in our Rankings Factors Study where we highlight the brand effect.
“The analysis shows that brands rank better, with the number of domains steadily decreasing from positions 2 to 10, with only position 1 showing different results.” Essentially this highlights that brands can control high position even more so when the keywords are generic. Brands and branding can vary between niche and global presence. Your domain plays a part in the brandability of your business.
Don’t Get Too Creative
Excepting .org for non-profits, .gov for government sites, and .edu for educational institutions, .com should be your only option. It’s the norm, and it’s nearly standardized. Did you know that 75% of all websites in the US have a .com extension? It’s what people assume your website will end with, even when it is not using this extension. You want to be memorable in a good way, and getting too creative with the URL can cause trouble.
One goal of SEO is to link users with the best, most relevant websites out there. Unusual domains create a challenging dynamic, something which can be overcome with strong content marketing and media. However for every unusual domain that succeeds many more fail in gaining the necessary recognition. You’re basically signing up for a handicap and that’s the last thing you need (there will be plenty of other challenges in the SEO game, so choose your battles wisely).
Still on the fence? Ask yourself why you’re considering anything besides a .com. There’s a good chance the reasons don’t make sense—and ultimately don’t make sense with your online reputation and branding. Here is the data to back up this justification.