New branded domain name extension and SEO

Since Icann opened the Top Level Domain name space back in 2012, SEO – Search Engine Optimization – has been a central discussion point. Some brand applicants were hoping that the dot brands would be seen as extremely authoritative and that this would solve their Seo challenges. On March 2012 already, Matt Cutts, who used to be an engineer in the search quality team at Google, was quite clear : “You shouldn’t register a TLD in the mistaken belief that you’ll get some sort of boost in search engine rankings”.  Some others thought that dot brand domains would never rank properly in Google, Bing or Yahoo. Actually, the reality is that search engines rank dot brand domains. We ran an extensive study on dot brand and SEO, that our members can read in our members section.

Why is SEO important ?

Dot brands may be a way to make domain names clear and explicit, and therefore increase direct entry of domain names. Overall, according to Google, 93% of the traffic comes from search engines. The following chart illustrates why it is so important to have a good ranking on Google. Visitors will click the best ranked results twice more than the second result. The second result is clicked twice more than the fourth result etc..

Click through rate versus Search Engine ranking position

Click through versus organic ranking on Serch Engines – data from connect.relevance.com

 

Some dot brand websites have achieved a very good ranking. Dot BNPParibas, the Top Level Domain of the french bank, is a very good example of excellent SEO work, combining natural search and adwords, or paid search, as illustrated on the attached Search Engine Results Page .

SEO and adwords for bnpparibas new TLD

BNP Paribas Search Engine Result Page ( Sept 2016)

SEO analysis

After one year of operations for the first dot brand domains, we ran a study to analyze the relationship between SEO and dot brand. Our study covered the 60 brands that have created websites in the dotbrand space with an SEO approach. The three main steps are :

Step 1 : Analyze the importance of the domain name in SEO

We used a survey that was conducted by Moz, conducted over 150 leading experts in SEO, who tried to assess the relative weight of 90 criteria in SEO. We considered the criteria that were linked in a way or another to the domain name – reputation, age, keywords in the domains – and looked at the weight and impact. Some of the impacts are negative, such as the age of the domain, others are positive. The fact of beeing a “dot brand” domain does not seem to give a strong boost per se, but the presence of keywords in the domain name helps to be relevant when searching for those specific keywords.

Step 2 : Analyse the top results when searching for a brand name

In this part, we looked at which sites ranked best when searching for the brand name, and looked if, and where the brand name appeared in the URL – in the domain name, in the TLD, or in the path. We also compared local versus global SEO strategies. Some brands, such as MMA, are well ranked in google.fr but not on google.com – as MMA also means Mixed Martial Arts and is highly competitive.

Step 3 : Analyze the top results when searching for the keywords used by brands

Few brands are well ranked when searching for second level domains. We compared the strategies to find out if some brands were trying to put keywords in the second level domain, in oreder to rank for keyword searches more than for a brand search

Findings

When searching for a brand name, a dot brand domain ranked first 8 times out of 60. The top 10 results include at least one dot brand website in 65% of the cases.
Our study considered at certain number of dot brand SEO strategies, from conquering the first rank in the SERP, to trying to increase their level of control of the first pages of the search engines and raising the barrier for counterfeiters or parallel importers.
While a dot brand is not an SEO supercharger, brands can take benefit from the fact that they can create domains with specific keywords. But this tactic will deliver results only if it is combined with a global SEO strategy and operations including clear objectives, SEO compliant design, efficient marketing, great content and keyword optimization.

Become a member to read the full study.