Matt Cutts Discusses New Top-Level Domains and Google’s Treatment of Them

Want to know how Google will see the hundreds of new domain extensions coming in 2013? In Matt Cutts’ recent live Q&A session, he discusses new TLDs and Google’s treatment of them. Go to 36:26 in the video below to see what he says:

Summary Points

1. Google will not have predisposed bias against new TLDs

Matt makes it clear multiple times that Google strives to return good relevant results regardless of the TLD of the domain. He even made a point to indicate that Google has no bias against the recently released .XXX.

What I think: Matt has said before they do not take TLD into account, but many studies have shown that to not be true. The truth is, they may not directly bias against TLDs, but factors like domain and site age are factored into their algorithm. New TLDs have disadvantages in both compared to established sites/domains in other extensions.

2. If a TLD is spammy, Google may not rank it well

Matt indicated if a TLD is “very very spammy”, Google may not rank your results on that TLD very well. This falls in line with Google’s recent banning of spam-filled extensions like .co.cc.

What I think: If Google will outright ban an entire TLD, they could certainly go the less severe route and simply penalize the TLD if they see spam trends. Cheap extensions are a lightning rod for spammy sites, so new TLDs that offer domains for a couple bucks or less per year could run into these sorts of penalties.

3. Matt recognizes new TLDs may pose issues for existing companies

After someone called the new TLDs “brand blackmail by ICANN”, Matt did give some thoughts on the new TLD controversy. He does see issues like consumer confusion and phishing attacks for banks as viable concerns. Then, as stated throughout, he said we’ll have to see how everything pans out.

What I think: It was interesting to see him share SOME thoughts on this. I think most arguments against the new TLDs have been paranoia-based at best, but Matt’s take was right. Banks actually did come out with concerns over a potential .bank extension and security issues. Defensive registrations for trademark protection will go through the roof and that is worrying a lot of companies as well.

4. Should you buy your company name in a new TLD? Matt’s thoughts

Matt did indicate a lot of people ask him about whether they should buy their company name in new TLDs. He said it depends, but did share thoughts on how the TLD registry comes into play. He indicated how the registry respects trademarks and the dispute process may help determine the choice.

What I think: I think it depends more on the extension and its potential size than the registry. .brand extensions will likely not see many defensive registrations as any .brand will be extremely trademark protective. Based on history of generic extensions, a small percentage of the new ones will succeed enough to warrant concerns about your trademark being squatted.

Like Matt says, we’ll have to see how everything pans out. We in the domain industry may have more educated speculation than most, but in the end it’s still speculation. There’s a possibility given the serious opposition to ICANN’s new TLD program that it may not even see the light of day.

I do believe that largely thanks to social media and how common many alternative extensions are in it already, Matt is speaking the truth on the no-bias side. That said, don’t forget about the humans you’re trying to attract to your site. New extensions are always a risk up against extensions people are familiar and comfortable with.


One Comment on “Matt Cutts Discusses New Top-Level Domains and Google’s Treatment of Them”

  1. Sharon Hayes says:

    Reblogged this on Sharon Hayes Dot Com.


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