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SEO Secrets of Keyword-Relevant Domain Extensions

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Chris Boggs

The Domain Name Association (DNA) recently commissioned Web Traffic Advisors, with supporting analysis from Kevin Rowe of Rowe Digital, to do an independent study, Hidden Advantages of Relevant Domain Names, to answer the following question:

Can domain name extensions, especially meaningful or relevant domain name extensions (e.g. .Club, .Online, .Rocks, .Today), have the same opportunity as traditional or more generic ones (e.g. traditional .Biz, .Com, .Info, .Org)?

The answer is yes! Companies that want to compete for visibility in search engines — either organically or through paid search — are discovering that they can do so with keyword-rich domain name extensions. By utilizing relevant, domain name extension that map more directly (on both the left and the right side of the dot) to frequently searched descriptive terms can fast-track search rankings. To view the full infographic and report summary, visit here.

The top takeaway is that keyword-relevant domain name extensions stand on equal ground when it comes to organic search performance. Plus, relevant domain name extensions required less inbound links to rank in the top page search spots than their traditional and more generic .Com and related counterparts based on the case studies and keywords examined.

This finding is a pretty big reveal from a search engine optimization (SEO) perspective because there have been years of speculation and even research around the idea that having the keyword in the URL itself is helpful. While there has always been a lot of evidence that points to that conclusion, it has been a bit of a leap to confirm that a keyword-relevant domain name extension would also be of value in search rankings.

Many marketers have favored sticking with a traditional domain with a keyword to the left of the dot such as healthinsurance.com, over a domain name extension like health.insurance with keywords on both sides of the dot. However, the study confirms that keyword-relevant domain name extensions are doing very well without having to create the same amount of inbound links generated by keyword-rich web pages, content and social media.

So, how is it possible that relevant new domain name extensions can rank so well for high-volume keyword searches and also have visibility for related modified terms? Here's why:

Good rankings can be achieved by domains with relevant extensions with lower "Domain Authority," which is a scoring system developed by several technology firms serving the industry that is used to measure the relative number and quality of links pointed to a website's domain name from pages on other websites. Relevant domain extensions in the study had a low Domain Authority, an average of 4, yet they ranked with near equal results to more established domains with much higher Domain Authority. As a result, unique, relevant domain name extensions rank frequently on top pages of the search results alongside .Coms, which have a Domain Authority average of 33, according to Rowe Digital Research.

This means that relevant domain names have the opportunity to rank well in categories with less overall Domain Authority and inbound links than traditional extensions vying for those top page spots.

Collectively, the research examined four case studies that form a sample set spanning across different industries, including business-to-business, retail, sports and entertainment. Each competes for very high-volume keywords being targeted by marketers and bid on by search professionals for paid search.

For example, Seo.Agency, one of the four case studies (see figure below) is unique because the domain name extension itself is made up of very competitive keywords. According to the research, Seo.Agency has been able to establish a strong relevance for that term and maintain their rankings on the top three search pages with just 30 qualified keywords, attracting eyeballs for the 2,000 searches that happen each month. The rankings achieved for search term phrase "SEO agency" put it on exactly the same playing field as the "pay-to-play" top 10 sites and the other agencies typically ranking in the top five for this specific keyword search or ones very closely relevant, such as "SEO agency New York," for example.

While all of the SEO agency-related websites across different top-level domains compete very well for terms related to SEO agencies and companies (see figure below), they gain their rankings through different strengths.

Seo.Agency has 26 inbound links and gains its ranking strength from its keyword-relevant domain name. Other "SEO agency" related domain name extensions, like Clutch.co and Topseos.com, generate more inbound links (10,188 and 31,106 respectively) from content, web pages, and social media to rank within the same top page search spots.

According to the study, Seo.Agency is saving approximately $3,000 U.S. per month in cost-per-click advertising (the keyword phrase "SEO agency" costs around $25 U.S. per click through "Pay-Per-Click" in Google AdWords).

Another example, Diamonds.Pro, can compete with websites that spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for paid search positioning within search engines.

The study found that the keywords Diamonds.Pro ranks for would cost $236,000 U.S. per month based on the estimated 114,000 organic clicks achieved if the brand were purchasing the clicks using Google AdWords.

However, by providing useful content for people engaged in the diamond-buying process, Diamonds.Pro also ranks well for many additional diamond-related search terms. The domain has garnered nearly 1,000 external links from other websites, which means "two-for-one" value from an SEO perspective, gaining both relevance and authority, or "trust."

Conclusion

Today, there are more than 1,000 options for domain name extensions. This creates the opportunity to add meaning and relevance on both sides of the dot, which can lead to getting rankings cost-effectively and organically. So if you've spent thousands of dollars on an ad campaign and wanted to add a unique domain name to drive eyeballs directly to your URL, a relevant domain name extension could be just the thing to add to your digital marketing strategy.

By Chris Boggs, Founder, Web Traffic Advisors

Related topics: Domain Names, Top-Level Domains, Web

 
   

Comments

Chris,Given the limited scope of your investigation, Alex Tajirian  –  May 07, 2017 7:50 AM PDT

Chris,
Given the limited scope of your investigation, your results do not necessarily reflect the future. You could have used statistical techniques to better understand the results’ robustness, at least, over the medium term.

Regards

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