Do top-level domains help SEO?

Top-level domains (TLDs) are the highest level of the web’s Domain Name System – the bit after the last dot, such as ‘com’, ‘uk’ or ‘net’. If you can only think of a few, it may come as a surprise to learn that there are over 1,500 of them now. They include curious generic ones such as .sex, .soccer and .sucks, as well as loads of ‘brand TLDs’. For example, Sky TV owns .sky, and uses it with websites like http://q.sky for promotions.

As only large companies are ever going to pay for their own TLDs, and as only the company of the same name would be granted the right to use one, you can probably see the security advantages of owning a ‘brand TLD’. Except… well, it looks a bit ‘wrong’, doesn’t it? And if the point of owning the brand TLD is to inspire confidence that the website belongs to who it says it does, things rather fall down if the domain name seems suspicious.

From time to time I’ve set up domains for promotions, and infrequently-used ‘new’ TLDs have proved useful to get a short, memorable name when the .com was claimed by someone else many years ago. Sometimes these TLDs are very cheap and can save us some money too; I once registered a .info domain in a sale for £1/year, which proved very cheap as I only needed it for a few months. But all in all, I wouldn’t stray too far into the realms of the exotic TLD, at least until they’ve become commonplace and unsuspicious.

Google says that as far as search is concerned, “We treat all of the New Top-level Domains like any other generic top-level domain“. This means that the widgets.shopping website will not have any advantages over widgets.com when it comes to shopping for widgets.