We Ranked a Brand New Domain Top-10 in 24 Hours
That's right - despite numerous comments from Google that the domain name does not make much difference to a site's rankings, we managed to get a brand new dot-CLUB domain, with no relevant content, ranked top-10 in the UK (ranked No.5) and the US (ranked No.7) within 24 hours of purchase.
The fact that Google even knew the site existed is pretty impressive – but to get top-10 ranking that quickly is almost unheard of.
Clearly, in our example, we've hit a relatively rare search term, giving less competition, but there is further anecdotal evidence that new-GTLDs can boost your search ranking.
So what's going on? Google can't be wrong about how their systems work and yet the evidence is strongly in favour of new-GTLDs providing an SEO boost.
May be they're both right and here's a possible explanation.
When you see a hyperlink on a page, it comes in two parts. The linking text you see and the URL, you will be taken to, that you don't see. Google was the first search provider to fully exploit the concept that the text that you see, the link-text, contains important clues about the content of the site you will be taken to.
So let's look at the HTML code of a typical link – here is some HTML that might be emended in the code of a web page ...
In this case the link-text we see is “Cars for sale”, and the site we will be taken to, if we click on this link, is “www.barryautos.com”. Google exploits the fact that the phrase “Cars for sale” drops a heavy hint about what to expect if you follow the link. The result is that this link will give barryautos.com a ranking boost on searches for “cars for sale” - and every SEO expert knows this is how you boost your site's ranking for a specific search term, you must use the search term as the link-text.
Now lets consider the domain names cars.for.sale – on many social media platforms, like Twitter, this domain name will be recognised as no different than more traditional domain names like www.barryautos.com and so cars.for.sale will be converted into a hyper-link. Effectively cars.for.sale will be converted into the HTML code …
Now, if Google were to strip out the punctuation from the link-text, they will be left with the phrase “cars for sale” - giving the domain cars.for.sale a ranking boost for the search “cars for sale”.
And Twitter is not the only site that will do this – many other social media sites and message apps will do the same. On Facebook, you would be required to enter the full URL to get it to be hyper-linked. In this example you would need to enter http://cars.for.sale/ - so you would end up with HTML code that looks like this …
Once again, after you have stripped out punctuation from the link-text, you are still left with the phrase “cars for sale”.
So, when coffee.club went live, which was widely reported, every time it was mentioned it was also probably hyper-linked. So instead of just reporting the website as the plain text “coffee.club” people made it clickable by using the full hyper-link, like this …
As with Twitter, it's possible that the process of making it clickable was automatic in many cases - giving coffee.club 100s of links using the link-text "coffee.club". Given the discussions above, it should come as little surprise then that this gave coffee.club a huge boost for the search term “coffee club”
Controlling Social Media
On Twitter, you normally have no control over the link-text. Twitter simply uses the URL, or domain name, as the link-text. Therefore the only way you can control your link-text on Twitter is by using a descriptive domain name. This is common to many social media platforms.
Research by Bit.ly shows that attractive links on social media achieve a 34% higher click-through rate. So the link “cars.for.sale” will almost certainly get more click-throughs than either barryautos.com or some URL shortener - as well as giving the site an SEO boost on the search term "cars for sale".
A further boost can be gained from type-in traffic. Domain names, usually new-GTLD names, that exactly match common search terms will get type-in traffic. We see about 10,500 users a week entering a search term that matches one of our new-GTLD domain names.
This may be because they have accidentally typed in a dot instead of a space, or it could be that, as these are mostly young users (55% 18-to-34) on phones (88% on mobile), they simply expect domain names like gifts.for.men or puppies.for.sale to work.
Google knows that direct type-in traffic is a valuable recognition of the user's familiarity with the website. For sites we do not often visit, we usually start with a search. But for sites we often visit, we either type the name directly into our browser, or we have the site bookmarked. If the site has Google Analytics installed, Google will see all this Direct traffic and this implied familiarity can provide an additional boost to the site's ranking.
If you buy a domain name, probably a new-GTLD domain name, that exactly, or very closely, matches the search term that you are trying to optimise for, it will almost certainly give you an SEO boost on two fronts - as well as coming with a bunch of free, targeted, visitors.
Its probably the cheapest boost to your online business money can buy. So if you want to rank high on nikes.for.sale or gifts.for.mom, maybe you need to consider buying the corresponding domain name.
But, remember, the old rules also still apply – if you don't have relevant content the visitors will just click-away so any gained traffic will be valueless.
If you have multiple domain names pointing to the same site, to get the best SEO boosting, you should host the site on only one of the domain names, then use a permanent redirect (HTTP 301 redirect) from the other domain names, sending all the traffic to the primary location. That way Google knows all the domain names are effectively synonymous, and aggregates the ranking.