Once again, Google’s Search Engineer Matt Cutts has come forward, asking webmasters to use straightforward best practices instead of strategies that cut corners to get ahead. In his latest Webmaster Help Channel video, Cutts advises companies to consider the risks of creating sites on alternative domains.
Some webmasters are inclined to launch sites on .io and .it domains because .com addresses come with greater competition and cost. Cutts says novelty domains like “Google.it” may not perform as well in search results because crawlers and readers assume the web content is targeted toward the country that’s associated with that particular domain. In that case, the “Google.it” domain may be categorized with Italian search results, but punished because its online content is not relevant to users’ queries.
“If you change the intent and you make it about a region – like .[li for] Long Island – you’re sort of doing a disservice to that country code top level domain,” he adds.
However, there is a list of alternative domains that Google considers generic enough to apply to a global audience. In the video, Cutts points out that .io pertains to the Indian Ocean, and because there isn’t a vast user or site population using domains for that particular area, it’s acceptable to use the domain internationally.
Other generic top level domains (gTLDs) that Google considers acceptable include: .aero, .biz, .cat, .info, .mobi, .museum, .name as well as others that are more familiar like .edu, .gov, .net and .org.
Brafton previously reported that a list of new domains were proposed this spring, including .google, .apple, .nyc and .book. Some have supposed these alternatives would give smaller companies a chance to secure domains that are closely related to their businesses for better visibility on the web.
Cutts’ advice is to approach with caution. A new domain might provide some results, but the best way to win online will always be to create compelling branded content and use SEO best practices that provide internet users with excellent experiences.