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There are many domain extensions that can be used when creating a new website, but which one will work best for us? In this article, we will look at determining the benefits and drawbacks of choosing a particular extension in terms of SEO for your website.
We will focus on top-level domains (commonly abbreviated as TLD – Top-Level Domain). Examples of such domains are .com, .net, .org, .pl or .fr extensions. Nowadays, the choice of different domains and their availability is very large. I am referring to the number of extensions themselves, not the availability of names in a particular extension.
In what follows, we will rely on official information from John Mueller (Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google).
I usually try to look at them with detachment, but in this case I don’t see why Google should keep this knowledge to itself. Anyway, I hope this post will help you decide what type of domain extension is right for your company, business or product.
I hope this post will help you decide what type of domain extension is right for your company, business or product.
Functional domains vs. SEO
Will a .space domain be treated differently (implicitly worse) by Google’s search engine than a .com domain? The answer is no. A functional domain (i.e. a domain that can reflect the nature of your business) will be treated by Google’s search engine in the same way as any other top-level functional domain. Regardless of the extension you choose.
So for SEO it won’t matter whether you decide on a .com, .net or .org domain. This is from the SEO side. Users, on the other hand, are most attached to .com domains, which are dedicated to commercial ventures. So they often automatically associate branding with a .com domain (or .pl in the case of Polish companies).
When choosing a domain other than .com or .pl, our brand may be confused by users with another website that operates independently under just those extensions. The last thing we want is to build the visibility of a competing entity. Image-wise, therefore, choosing a .com domain seems to be the best option. Especially if we are also thinking about the foreign market.
SEO for country domains
When it comes to country-specific domains, things are a bit different. For example, let’s look at the Polish domain extension – .pl. If you’re targeting Polish customers with your website, then using a .pl domain can pay off for you – in terms of both SEO and the company image itself.
Domain extensions that reflect the country of origin, such as .pl (Poland), .fr (France) or .de (Germany), can also be used for global SEO purposes. More on that in a moment.
Domain of origin does it help SEO?
Using a country-specific domain extension may give your site a slight advantage in SEO over sites using other extensions. It’s all about search engine ranking for that specific country, as John Mueller’s statement implies, so to speak. Or maybe not really?
John talks about how the country extension helps Google’s systems to geotarget for queries from that specific country. What I’m missing is the answer to the question of whether by site language we will achieve exactly the same effect while remaining in a functional .com domain.
Google by John’s mouth also says that a .pl domain will help geotargeting queries from Poland. On the other hand, such a .pl domain will not help us increase visibility in France.
Will a country domain be visible in organic results globally?”
Country domains will be visible in organic results globally, as confirmed by Google. Google’s search engine does not limit the visibility of domains dedicated to countries. This means that web addresses from country domains will be found in organic results, even when the query is in a different language.
SEO – www address or without www
As Google’s John Mueller says, from an SEO point of view it doesn’t matter. You can use any format – with or without the prefix “WWW”. From the SEO side – you will neither gain nor lose anything from it. Sometimes this choice can be due to technical limitations of the site.
The only thing worth paying attention to is that your site address (URL) should be consistent throughout your site and beyond. It’s a good idea to use 301 permanent redirects at the same time, so that a single, consistent address works everywhere.
However, pay attention to another key thing. Namely, using the https protocol and a valid SSL certificate for your domain.
Domain extensions don’t matter much today when it comes to gaining an edge in SEO. A greater advantage can be provided by a domain’s history or links leading to it. However, by capturing an expired domain, we do not have the freedom to choose the brand and domain name.
The service itself, its technical optimization, content, content structure and internal linking are what matters most these days. While I am not belittling the role of linkbuilding in the process of positioning sites, on-site seems to be gaining in this battle lately. That could change any day now with the rapid development of AI and the popularity of ChatGPT.
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Hello! My name is Piotr Starzynski and it's a pleasure to meet you in the SEO industry. I have been officially working in SEO since 2006, while I have been working in analytics for several years. I have about 400 analytics implementations for client websites, hundreds of SEO projects and dozens of analytics projects for mobile applications. At Up&More, I am responsible for the Search Engine Optimization and Web Analytics team. If you feel like working with me, I invite you to contact me!