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SEO Implications of the New gTLDs

ICANN recently introduced a slew of new generic top-level domains beyond the old standards of .com, .net, .org, and the other domain extensions to which we’ve grown accustomed. Many local businesses are wondering what effects these new gTLDs will have on their site’s ranking, should they choose to implement .museum, .love, .gallery, or one of the dozens of other names on the market.

How Will Google, Bing, and Yahoo Adapt to the New gTLDs?

In the first few weeks since many of these gTLDs have been out in the wild, there appears to be no real change in the way search engines rank them. As has always been the case, Google is rewarding sites providing high-quality written and video content.

One thing many SEO experts don’t spend much time thinking about is that Google allows users to filter the search by domain extensions. If someone wanted to search for all sites and only see .gallery extensions, for example, they would be able to. While this search isn’t used much now, it may be more widely used and more useful when more specific gTLDs are more widely used. Imagine being able to find particular art galleries or museums more easily by running a local search filtered by .gallery or .museum.

Things to Watch Out For

A telling sign of possible things to come is the way that the adult-themed gTLD, .xxx has been handled. Each domain registered using this domain extension is required to abide by a particular set of rules, including mandatory scanning for malware, harmful content, and deceptive advertising practices.

These types of regulations, if applied to certain gTLDs, could have deep-reaching effects to affiliate marketers, black hat SEO types, and WSO scammers. Imagine if the company who owned rights to the .guru extension decided that there would be no “make money online” content allowed within that domain extension.

So while it appears that for SEO purposes, the new gTLDs will provide nothing too special in the short term, from a marketing standpoint, there are a lot of reasons that you (or your company) may be interested in picking one up, especially if you’re in a niche that has an open gTLD available. You may end up receiving more traffic as the search engines adapt to the new domain extensions, and users of Google begin searching for sites based upon domain extension. As with all things related to SEO, things can change rapidly, so keep checking back for potential changes!

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