Do domain name extensions affect the SEO of a website? Which domain name extensions are good for SEO and which domain name extensions are not good for SEO? How does the choice of a domain name affect the SEO of a website in future? Before you register a domain name, which extensions should be considered to maximize your coverage and visibility in search engines?

These are some of the questions most newbie webmasters, SEO’s and business owners ask and there is a lot of misconception around which domain name extension or TLD is best for SEO and which ones are more preferred by search engines in search results. In this article, we will be covering some of these points and discuss the effect of TLD’s and domain name extensions on Search engine optimization or search rankings.

The short answer is –

Domain name extensions have little or no effect on search rankings in Google and other search engines. If you are concerned about local search results, then country specific domain names have some edge but at the end of the day, the domain name extension is not something you have to worry about for better search rankings. Apart from the domain anme extension or TLD, the keyword used in the domain name also has no effect on search rankings.

Google (and other search engines) treat all TLD’s equally. So if you have a domain which ends with a .com, that does not automatically give you an edge in search rankings over a domain with a less popular TLD (.info for example).

Thus, if you are not able to find a good .com domain name, consider buying other TLD’s if they are available. Don’t obsess over a .com or .org domain name because you think they get better search rankings. It’s purely a myth. Google has clearly written an article in their webmaster central blog that domain name extensions are treated equally and the new TLD’s are considered equivalent of legacy TLD’s such as .com, .net and .org. An excerpt from the post is added below

Overall, our systems treat new gTLDs like other gTLDs (like .com & .org). Keywords in a TLD do not give any advantage or disadvantage in search. TLDs will be treated the same as a other gTLDs. They will require the same geotargeting settings and configuration, and they won’t have more weight or influence in the way we crawl, index, or rank URLs.

Google also does not give preference to .edu and .gov sites in search results and each and every TLD is considered of the same value.

In this video Google employee, Matt Cutts suggests

Google treats all TLD’s equally. It does not matter if it is a .gov, .com or an obscure top-level domain name, our goal is to return the best results to our users. We look whether the content of the page has the ability to satisfy the user and if all the other aspects are okay, we don’t look at the TLD at all for determining search ranks.

However, there is something to take note of as far as statistical truth is concerned

  • Most legitimate sites have a .com domain name. It is the unofficial standard of the web that most people type .com in the URL address bar. After .com, .org and .net and the most popular domain name extensions. They don’t give you any SEO edge or better search rankings but it helps you better the branding aspect of your website. These TLD’s are easier to brand since people remember them easily, compared to other not so popular domain name extensions.
  • Most of the spam sites use obscure and lesser popular domain name extensions such as .biz, .us, .info and so on. It is because these domain name extensions are cheaper to register and since spammers invest their money in hundreds of thousands of spam sites, they often prefer registering their website in these extensions. If you have a legitimate site with the .info domain name extension, you don’t need to worry though. Search engines will treat your website fairly and not automatically mark you a spammer because of the domain name extension. However, a common pattern is observed that spam sites and low-quality sites tend to use these lesser popular domain name extensions more than .com and other popular TLD’s.
  • The most spammy domain name extensions are – .science, .stream, .men, .party, .study and .link [Acording to a study]
  • Recently, .co and .io are two domain name extensions which have become extremely popular since they are easy to remember and short. Since a .com domain is very hard to register as almost all good .com domains are taken, it might be a good idea to register the same domain in .co and .io if .com is unavailable.

In short, if you want to improve the search rankings of your website, you don’t need to worry about the domain name extension of your website. It would be better if you turn your attention to the following things