Is Your Domain Extension Important For SEO Reasons?
Do you really HAVE TO buy a .com domain extension for your site?
Yes and no is the answer...
If we are to look at the question of whether to buy .com, .net, .org or any of the many other domain extensions purely from the perspective of whether or not Google and other search engines will reward us for picking one or the other, then there appear to be some clear guidlines... mostly clear, anyway...
There is no doubt that the domain name that you chose for your web site is very important both for SEO purposes as well as enabling your visitors to find and remember your site. But what about the extension?
Do you hold our for a .com despite the fact that you probably can't get the exact name that you want?
Or do you consider other possible extensions during your domain registration and go for a country domain (such as .co.uk) or any other available domain?
Somehow it does not seem so good to get a .tv or a .info when you had your heart set on the .com.
Generic domain extensions never seem as valuable as the prized .com extension.
Also, will your new site get muddled with an existing .com and will it cause you copyright and legal problems to have the same site 'name' but with a different extension?
You might like the idea of buying the domain microsoft.net but Microsoft may not be at all impressed and could theoretically sue you for infringement of copyright...
If there appears to be no copyright issues, the good news is that from an SEO point of view, you can go ahead and register the domain and get on to the first pages of Google even if your site DOESN'T have a .com extension.
Many SEO experts believe that the majority of major search engines will treat any domain extension the same.
The only reason that more .coms seem to come up in the search engines is because there are more of them and they were the first domain extension released.
Put simply, the .coms have had longer to become established, so there is more of them.
When should I avoid .COM ?
There are a couple of exceptions, where you really need to look for a country specific or non .com domain name.
The first of these is if you are producing a web site that is specifically designed for mobile phones (so choose .mobi) or tv based applications (choose .tv).
The second is when to choose a geographic domain as opposed to an international domain.
Choosing a domain extension that represents your country such as .co.uk or .ca can be important, particularly if you only really want web site visitors from a specific country.
Google, the mother of all search engines, tends to give preference to local based domains.
So if someone is searching on google.co.uk or searching for UK based businesses then any web site with the domain ending in .co.uk will be sorted to the top of the rankings.
Secondly the internet is a scary place for some people and for others there is a feeling of information overload. In fact Bing has been running a TV commercial emphasising just this fact.
When searching for a local business, many people are comforted by finding a business web site with that comforting country based extension.
So if you are a local trades person, a builder, plumber or only want to sell your wares in your own country, then a country based domain is for you.
When is .COM best?
On the other hand there a certain prestige to owning a .com domain and it is definitely the one to strive for if you want to build a strong brand, attracting international customers and surfers.
From a SEO point of view though it is the content of the domain that means the most to the success of your web site.
You need a good descriptive domain name that contains a fequently searched keyword related to the topic of your webste.
Try to keep the name as short as possible so people can remember it easily and so the nature of your site is clear.
There are some exceptions, such as when you are building a brand (example: clickbank.com) or promoting yourself as a brand or as a well known person in a particluar field (example: mikeauton.com)...
But on the whole including a SITE RELEVANT heavily searched keyword in your site name is the way to go (example: internetmarketingtips.com)
If you are not looking to create a brand, the good news is that you don't need to buy the coveted domain extension .com or create a long and/or impossibly complicated .com domain name.
Most people prefer .net and .org as acceptable alternatives, but it seems that from Google and most search engines point of view, it just doesn't matter.
If your site is set up right - and that's a big IF - you have the same chance of ranking highly on Google with ANY domain extension.
Purely from an SEO perspective, newly created, competing .com domains on the whole have NO ADVANTAGE over domains with a different extension ....
Coming soon... my recommended domain buying tactics for maximum effect in the search engines and with potential buyers.