A new study from the Domain Name Association offers some compelling new insights into the effect a new “not-com” domain extension can have on a website’s Google search result rankings.
The study’s findings are good news for new domain extensions, as it revealed that selecting a relevant new domain extension can help a website achieve an exceptional rank for a range of particular keywords.
You can check out the full study here, but this post will aim to break down its key points and takeaways.
As most website owners know, a mysterious cocktail of ranking factors help to determine which websites appear on that coveted first page of search results and which are banished to the dark hinterland known as “the stuff after page three”. Like many of these ranking factors, a domain name’s SEO impact is not crystal clear.
To shed some light on the subject, the DNA commissioned Web Traffic Advisors to look at four high-ranking “not-com” domains (seo.agency, thefun.singles, and rapala.fishing, and diamonds.pro) and examine what possible effect the domains’ extensions could have had on the results. They also sought to answer if new extensions can compete alongside traditional and legacy domain name extensions, and if using a more relevant new domain extension could lend any advantage.
A mysterious cocktail of factors help to determine which websites appear on that coveted first page of search results and which are banished to the dark hinterland known as “the stuff after page three”.
The study found that all four domains ranked within the top three pages of search results for anywhere from 30-10,000 related keywords. They also all ranked on the first page for anywhere from 10 to 10,000 search terms used in an average of 2,000 to 13,000 monthly searches. Many of these rankings were for highly competitive keywords within the domains’ respective industries.
This is pretty fascinating on its own, but it’s especially surprising when you look the Domain Authority for these websites.
Domain Authority is a score on a scale of 1–100 that predicts how well a website will rank in search results. Higher-scoring websites tend to have a greater ability to rank well. A DA score is primarily measured by the number of quality inbound links a website has. A website with lots of inbound links from high-authority sources (think CNN or Wikipedia) will likely score very highly on the Domain Authority scale. Smaller websites, which tend to have far fewer inbound links, typically have a much lower DA score.
So here’s why that matters: the study found that a .COM needed an average DA score of 33 to rank well. However, the new gTLDs only needed a DA score of 4 to reach the same rank. In other words, the .COM had to work 8x harder. It wasn’t even close.
That’s huge for new gTLD domain owners; since new domain extensions perform so well in organic searches, their owners can save money they’d otherwise spend on paid search and other forms of marketing to reach those same rankings.
For example, for seo.agency to achieve comparable rankings it’s earned by using a relevant new domain ending, the study estimates that it would take about $3,000 worth of CPC advertising per month — a staggering sum compared to the few hundred bucks they pay to register seo.agency annually. Diamonds.pro was even more impressive; its organic rankings would cost a jaw-dropping $236,000 to achieve through paid methods.
Since new domain extensions perform so well in organic searches, their owners can save money they’d otherwise spend on paid search and other forms of marketing to reach those same rankings.
As always, much about organic search remains a mystery, and there’s no magic bullet for attaining search-ranking supremacy. Those who want to climb the ranks of Googledom must make an integrated effort to tailor their website content and score those inbound links, among other tasks.
Nevertheless, the DNA’s study offers powerful evidence that a not-com domain name, properly leveraged, offers noteworthy advantages over traditional and legacy TLDs, and is well worth website owners’ consideration as a potential web address.
Find your new domain from over 500 extensions, from .COM to .GREEN.