The SEO Impact of New ICANN Top Level Domains (TLDs) SES Chicago - Rob Garner #seschi


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My presentation on the search engine optimization impact of new generic top level domains. Includes a discussion on the birth of the search optimized TLD, and also considerations for site migration to a new TLD, among many other considerations.

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The SEO Impact of New ICANN Top Level Domains (TLDs) SES Chicago - Rob Garner #seschi

  1. 1. Search Implications of New gTLDs @robgarner
  2. 2. iCrossing - Agency services @robgarner
  3. 3. with clients including… @robgarner
  4. 4. @robgarner
  5. 5. SEMPO Toolkit – New Member benefit • $2,000 worth of products and services • Free with Individual membership or higher ($125 yr.) • Valid for both new and renewing memberships @robgarner
  6. 6. .Com: The branding of a gTLD • .Com became king in the 90’s when advertisers spent billions on promoting their domains (ex. • .Com is still king in the US • Short term prediction: gTLD fragmentation will only reinforce the strength of the .Com TLD brand • Long term: Will gTLDs become the norm for large online players? Not yet known… @robgarner
  7. 7. .Anything: The branding of a gTLD • New gTLD operators will need a branding strategy to raise awareness • Different strategies will be required for open registries, versus proprietary brand registries • Media companies may be best suited for a .brand domain, as they have more visibility to brand towards their audience, snl.nbc, etc. @robgarner
  8. 8. POV with enterprise brands • Most of the gTLD discussion is driven by internal legal departments • Some are moving forward with .brand for TM protection • Reports from IT departments that some legacy systems will not function when moving from to site.brand due to dependencies on the core URL • Potential that some may attempt to migrate, but CMOs are in no rush • Closed brand gTLDs may provide an additional level of search engine trust, similar to other closed TLDs like .Gov and .Mil • ANA has taken a stance against gTLDs on behalf of enterprise businesses, and many large brands are not interested @robgarner
  9. 9. Enterprise brands – other considerations • How long is your brand name, and would it make a good extension? • Are there other potential confusingly similar gTLDs that could be registered, and preclude registration of your .brand? • If so, do those potential registrants and operators have the resources to manage a large registry? • What are the costs of not having the gTLD 10 years from now, especially if there is a legitimate risk of confusingly similar strings? • Other than marketing novelty or brand protection, what value does the gTLD bring that your doesn’t? @robgarner
  10. 10. Spammy gTLDs: Can a whole registry be seenas a “bad neighborhood”? • The way the gTLD operator manages the registry will be a key influence on how well that TLD performs in search as a whole • Qualities of successful gTLD SEO: • Well-managed TLDs that discourage spam • Proprietary closed gTLDs • Sites with significant and engaging content resources and utilities • Sites within gTLD have good content, linkage, and buzz around the social graph @robgarner
  11. 11. Spammy gTLDs: Can a whole registry be seenas a “bad neighborhood”? • Closed and trusted: .Mil and .Gov are generally highly trusted TLDs with the search engines, because they are carefully managed, and contain authoritative content, with little or no possibly for spam to gain visibility. • Trusted, but open: .Edu was previously given high marks by Google due to the high percentage of authoritative academic content, but this trust was eventually diluted by student pages, and commercialism on university news sites • Open TLDs that have had a sketchy past with Google: .Info was not managed very well for search, and at one point the registry gave away hundreds of thousands of free domains, and thus the signal for the .Info gTLD as a whole was weakened greatly, to the point that may be somewhat of a search liability to build a new site on this extension. .Info is still a good extension, but high performing sites in search must still have a solid content play behind them. @robgarner
  12. 12. The birth of the search-optimized gTLD • There must be a solid content play behind the URL, and gTLD • Standard SEO signals and optimization still required for it to perform well in search across a wide variety of terms • Quality of sites residing on gTLD may be a signal to search engines, in terms of the overall TLD quality • Generic gTLD keywords do not guarantee top search visibility • Search engines view of TLDs have changed over the years – nothing is set in stone • Ex. .Edu links, Tweaking of .info, banning of entire subdomains and hosts • Hints from Google that exact match domains may not have the same boost they used to have @robgarner
  13. 13. Considerations for migrating from to domain.brand @robgarner
  14. 14. It’s the same as any other site migration @robgarner
  15. 15. What could be lost in a site migration without SEO(moving to site.brand) Natural traffic: Estimate potential traffic loss or gain, and multiply times the media value, or actual conversion rate of this traffic. Ex. 25,000 new visits from search X $3.50 CPC value is $87,000 worth of traffic per month Link equity: Time is money. Changing domains could shed 15 years of link development that is almost priceless. Also quote how much it would cost to build up 1,000-1,000,000 quality links on a new site, and use this estimate as a value for saving money. Natural search equity and history: For sites with positive equity, there is a price on trust and authority. The cost is in years of waiting and rebuilding. Most often, this is priceless because it can’t be reproduced. Costs for fixing technical mistakes: If your developers find too many dependencies on an existing legacy URL, consider the potential cost to correct. @robgarner
  16. 16. What could be lost in a site migration without SEO(moving to site.brand) Sales, actual monetary returns. Look at conversions in aggregate from the natural search channel, and calculate the risk or gain by percentage points. So if you are getting $1,000,000 a year in sales from natural search, and 50% of the content is removed, expect sales to decrease by 30-50% as well. Trophy rankings: Think of the costs involved when your boss’s pet trophy ranking “Tulsa Oklahoma widgets” goes away. Sum of long tail rankings (and subsequent traffic, media value, and conversions) @RobGarner 214.676.2089 VP Strategy, iCrossing @robgarner
  17. 17. Defining the elements of domain equity The Domain is the axis point for ALL of the traffic to your site. @RobGarner 214.676.2089 VP Strategy, iCrossing @robgarner
  18. 18. Understanding the impact of a site migrationImpact and cost to marketer when URLs change ● Spiders can’t find new pages as quickly ● Engines can’t apply pre-existing backlink history ● Visitors can’t find what they are looking for ● Bookmarks rendered useless ● Bandwidth wasted ● Traffic is gone ● Conversions and sales are lost @RobGarner 214.676.2089 VP Strategy, iCrossing @robgarner
  19. 19. Understanding the impact of a site migrationImpact and cost to marketer when URLs change CASE STUDY Site relaunch on renamed URLs, with no redirection plan Site relaunched with new URLs in mid-month 404 errors spiked, and the site never fully recovered @RobGarner 214.676.2089 VP Strategy, iCrossing @robgarner
  20. 20. Understanding the impact of a site migration Questions your web and marketing team should ask before starting a site migration: 1. How can I help mitigate the risks of migration by addressing the issue in the 2. How much search equity project’s business and is established in my current technical requirements? site structure? 3. How do we approach a redirection plan and 4.What value does a gTLD add to content strategy? your marketing and branding efforts? @RobGarner 214.676.2089 @robgarner VP Strategy, iCrossing
  21. 21. Assessing URL equity and value before a major migration • Use proper redirection techniques for URLs that must change • Utilize 301 redirects for pages that are permanently moved • Assess quality of inbound home page and deep site links • Authority sites? .Gov’s, .Edu’s? $299 Y! Dir links? • Assess the age and history of domain and URLs • Site’s with a positive URL history can be at a distinct advantage • Estimate URL liabilities • Read log files • Are internal pages pulling high volume search traffic? • Why are these pages performing well? @RobGarner 214.676.2089 • Does the long tail of the site refer substantial traffic? VP Strategy, iCrossing @robgarner
  22. 22. Final note • Each decision to pursue a gTLD (or not) is highly subjective • Each situation should be evaluated individually before decided whether or not obtain a gTLD • Consider the brand protection and TM implications • Consider the implications of site migration if a site moves to a new gTLD @RobGarner 214.676.2089 VP Strategy, iCrossing @robgarner
  23. 23. Thank You Rob Garner 214.676.2089 @robgarner VP Strategy iCrossing @RobGarner 214.676.2089 VP Strategy, iCrossing @robgarner