It’s hard to ignore primetime advertising on the imminent availability of new global top level domains, marketing .blog and .london extensions to secure your digital brand for the future. Whilst vast swathes of new domain extensions might prove popular amongst first-time entrepreneurs, what effect will the new gTLDs have on digital marketing and SEO?
Google’s recent algorithm updates, secure browsing (https) and best-practice search visibility all point towards useful, sharable, quality content, leaving the marketing value of domain names in contention. Content remains top of the digital food-chain, and in turn, exact-match domains have less value than they used to. So what place does a nu-generic extension have in a cluttered online market?
Domain Names & Trust
As Google attempts to improve transparency and accountability across the web, so too does it establish trust in the SERPs. Keyword-heavy spam sites and useless content no longer perform in search results, simply because the methodology behind their visibility is defunct. Google strives to improve all elements of trust associated with search, because after all, they have a global
audience monopoly to retain.
At a consumption level, trust goes a long way. Take a look at the past 100 years of marketing literature if you’re not clued up, because the convergence between the digital and the real world means the same rules now apply for establishing and exchanging value.
Based on the global principle that people don’t like change, how is a brand supposed to establish trust amongst an audience using something completely new and largely misunderstood? Take into account that 9 in 10 people don’t know what a browser is, you can paint a picture of how confusing a new gTLD will be for the vast majority of Western consumers.
For a small roadside coffee shop, bernies.cafe might seem like a suitable and perhaps charming approach to global online recognition. How is Bernie going to market his website? Will he produce flyers and business cards with a bold call to action, or scrawl his shiny new URL all over a chalkboard? I can already tell you that 9 in 10 people will fail to recognise bernies.cafe as a URL, and the remaining person will sneer at a glaring typo.
would be a cheaper and simpler option for everyone involved in the decision making process, and it might just be a worthwhile asset in his marketing portfolio. The fact is that Bernie doesn’t need global recognition, nor does he require a branded URL that is painstakingly misplaced.
Search Engine Visibility
It’s largely uncertain how the new gTLDs will be received by Google, let alone the general public. Whilst yourbrand.london achieves a localised keyword in a URL, so too can extralongbranddomainlondon.co.uk. Sure, the former is easier to recall and quicker to scrawl on the back of a napkin, but is the quick and easy approach really necessary to improve search visibility?
Think back to Penguin & Panda and ask yourself whether pizza.london is able to rank, based on the trust associated with the brand or the content hosted on that domain:
- The domain is newly registered and will take 6-12 months to build trust
- The domain is a gTLD and will likely require geo-targeting via webmaster tools
- Will the domain serve content and attract visitors, shares and bookmarks?
- How will pizza.london be perceived amongst existing domains, such as pizzalondon.co.uk?
There is no way of pre-determining the search value of the new gTLDs, so as always, we must remain at the mercy of Google and it’s global empire. Generating digital brand awareness is undoubtably important for businesses and brands in the offline environment, but for now it seems we should stick with globally recognised and trusted domain extensions to keep the peace.
We’re cagey Brits after all – we don’t like change.