Google has been discussing how it deals with the new top-level domains, or TLDs. John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst with Google, took to the Google Webmaster Blog in response to what he said were questions and misconceptions among members of the webmaster community regarding the issue of TLDs.
Google’s move to clarify issues pertaining to TLDs comes ahead of the 29th July deadline for .brand TLDs to sign the Registry Agreement with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the non-profit organisation with responsibility for the allocation of IP addresses as well as domain name and root server system management.
Mueller’s post makes it clear that Google does not give preferential treatment to any TLDs compared to others. A number of geo-specific TLDs will be defaulted by Google to a particular country and that will indicate that the website is seen as being more important in respect of a particular geographic region. However, for the purposes of rankings, all TLDs are treated equally.
Google stressed that keywords within a TLD do not confer any advantage when it comes to a search. Nor do they act as a disadvantage. Googlebot will be able to both crawl and index International Domain Name TLDs so that they can be used for search purposes.
In support of SEO strategies for moving domain registrations from .com to a new TLD, Google has prepared documentation and published it in its Help Centre. Google says that it treats such moves in the same way as it would treat any type of site move. Nonetheless, site owners or webmasters concerned about losing search ranking or history should be aware that it can be some time before domain changes are processed for search purposes and that email addresses can be expected to remain valid for an even longer period of time. Google generally recommends, therefore, that those considering a domain name change select one that will suit long-term needs.
Google has invested a lot of money to buy the rights to particular domain names. In February, for example, it spent $25 million on the rights for the .app top-level web domain name.