How Does Google View ‘non dot com’ Domains?

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Tags: DomainDomain NameGoogle

As little as five years ago, with the rebirth of SEO marketing and branding, people looking for a domain name were literally shooting themselves in the foot if they didn’t go with a dot com domain.  Most widely used at that time were the dot com, dot net and dot org domains – and most people attempting to brand a website acquired all three at the same time for a nominal fee.  However, time has passed – and today there are hundreds and thousands of extensions available, aside from the wildly popular dot com, that new webmasters are utilizing to create their online masterpieces.

But many people are still confused about what is best.  In fact, if a good web name is taken in the dot com domain, many are keen to use any of the other dot extensions simply to acquire the site name.  But is Google weighing each of these domains equally?

The simple answer is no.  In the past few years there have been new domain extensions pop on the market with all the flash and fancy of a new Hollywood movie.  But as the hype dies down and everyone realizes these domains just don’t see the rankings of their dot com counterparts, people move on.  And with each tired blockbuster sequel, the crowds waiting in line get smaller and smaller until a new domain extension announcement is simply tossed into the spam folder.

There are unique examples like http://del.icio.us/.  It is feasible to become wildly successful using any dot com domain.  But how much did Google play in the success of Delicious?, and it is also important to point out that even http://del.icio.us/ has acquired the delicious dot com domain name.

I think it is safe to say when thinking in terms of what Google prefers the marketer is searching for a domain name on the basis that it includes keywords that they want to rank for.  And as the domain-grab has long ended and anything worthwhile is sitting in the domain after market with a hefty price tag on it, is it worth it to try and grab a dot info and build up some authority?

A couple websites have done studies in the past that try and observe what appears in the SERPs more often.  And even from your own anecdotal evidence, it is hard to say that anything can currently compete with the saturation dot com, dot net, and dot org have in Google.

But is there a place in the world for non dot com domains?  There certainly is if you are attempting to rank specific to a location.  Dot co dot uk domains do quite well in the United Kingdom.  It is believed much of this comes from a location preference indicated by a sites backlinks.  If your site is .co.uk the majority of the links you have pointing at your site are probably from .co.uk as well and you can expect google.co.uk to give you preference in this location based version of Google.

With Google automatically accounting for IP location you can also expect visitors to google.com but who are connected to the Internet in the UK to receive the same results (in fact, Google will forward you to the appropriate Google-version in most countries).

But beyond country code domain extensions, Google still seems to have a strong prejudice against newer domain types.  Which, with all of the domain-squatters out there, is really a shame.

Frank Anderson is an Internet and technology blogger.  He is currently working with WebHosting.net.