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Founder of Website Simplified
Hey, my name is Oskar. I’ve created Website Simplified to help people create and grow their first website. I’ve been building websites online for over 7 years now and this blog is my way of giving back to the internet and helping beginners to create their own site. It’s easy and after reading this guide you will know how your domain extension affects SEO
Does a domain extension affect SEO? The long and short of it is, yes it does. However, it’s not as black and white as you might think.
In my previous blog, I asked whether changing a WordPress theme affects SEO, and the answer, for better or worse, is a resounding yes.
With choosing your domain extension, it isn’t quite so simple. There are an array of factors to consider, and a positive for one website may not necessarily be for another.
You need to be clear from the offset on what it is you are trying to achieve, and where. For example, if your goal is to attract as much traffic as possible from the United States, a .co.uk domain isn’t the correct choice for you.
If you’re targeting a global audience, or even a predominantly American audience, your best bet is to stick with the top-level domains (TLD).
Some of the most popular TLDs around are .com, .net and .org. It will come as no surprise to you that .com is king. In fact, in my how to choose a domain name post, I discussed how over 37% of TLDs use the .com extension.
My advice for those looking to rank for international traffic would be to opt for .com. It’s the most trusted top-level domain for a reason.
On the flip side, if you want to focus your attentions on the UK only, .co.uk is the extension for you. The same goes for any country. If you want to rank in Portugal alone, stick to .pt. For France, .fr is the best option. The list goes on.
As previously mentioned, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. The perfect extension for you may hinder the SEO value of another site.
It’s all about having your goals clear in your mind, and knowing what to look out for when choosing your domain name and extension.
Luckily for you, I’m here to help. Here’s what you need to be paying attention to…
Please, for your own good, avoid the quirky extensions like .pizza, .life and .club. I mean, .pizza? What is that?
Even the likes of .info and .tech may seem more professional, but at this moment in time, they aren’t deemed trustworthy enough to compete with .com and .org.
I would hate for you to put in all this hard work in developing a fantastic new website only for people not to click through to it because the domain extension puts them off.
Of course, the less visitors that your site receives, the more that will negatively impact your SEO.
Perhaps in time, the aforementioned extensions will have their time in the sun. But for now, my advise would be to absolutely stick with the trusted TLDs.
I touched on this earlier, but there really isn’t a proven formula for every website out there. When it comes to choosing a country specific extension or an international one, it very much depends on your target audience, your goals, your location and what it is that your website is all about.
Consider these pointers before committing to your extension.
It seems obvious, right? If you are creating an ecommerce website selling handbags globally, and your website is called handbags4u.it, then you’re going to struggle to rank on a global scale. Sure, you may perform well in the fashion-obsessed Italy, but don’t expect to perform too well outside of this country.
I know, I know, I said that .com is king. 99% of the time. It absolutely is. However, there are exceptions. Let’s stick with handbags4u.it. If you are only selling and delivering in Italy, there is every chance that a .it domain extension will perform better than a .com alternative.
Basically, if an internet user is searching for designer bags in Italy, Google will recognise that you are based in their desired region, and assuming that everything else on your website is as it should be, will rank you highly on their search.
Go into it with a real clear vision on what you want to achieve with your website, and who you want to target. Do that, and you’ll be able to make your decision with confidence.
You don’t need me to tell you that a Click-Through Rate (CTR) is of major importance to the success of your website. After all, if nobody is clicking on your page then you’re not receiving the interest that you desire, and Google will certainly pick up on a lack of activity.
For me, a sure-fire way to ensure that people don’t click through to your website is by choosing what looks like an untrustworthy extension. In reality, there isn’t actually anything wrong with a .info website. However, people are – quite rightly – very careful on the internet and like to be made to feel safe. We all know .com, .org or .co.uk websites, and wouldn’t think twice about entering a page with these TLDs. However, some people may think twice about clicking on a .info or .life extension. If they even stop for a split second to question your domain, you’re already fighting a losing battle.
To summarise, .com remains king for any website that is targeting an international readership. Locally, .com may also be your best shout, but there is a solid argument to be made for using a particular country extension – particularly if you are looking to rank solely in the country in question.
A major takeaway that I want you to keep in mind is the need to avoid the quirky extensions like .org.uk and .me.uk. They immediately raise eyebrows and you don’t want potential visitors questioning your website before they have even clicked onto it. Stick with the tried and tested extensions that people are used to and trust. After all, there is plenty of time to get creative with your actual website design.
So, do domain extensions affect SEO? Too right they do!