Google issues details on how new top level domain names affect search engine results. (In short, they don’t.)
Google has posted to its Webmaster Central Blog about how it handles new top level domain names in search. Because of the importance of this issue to the industry, I have republished the questions answered in the post along with my commentary.
Q: How will new gTLDs affect search? Is Google changing the search algorithm to favor these TLDs? How important are they really in search?
A: Overall, our systems treat new gTLDs like other gTLDs (like .com & .org). Keywords in a TLD do not give any advantage or disadvantage in search.
DNW: This answer leaves a lot open. Google highlights the keywords searched that are in the domain name, and it will highlight the top level domain name if there’s a match. I think what Google is saying is that, as of right now, it doesn’t matter if “photography” is to the left or right of the dot in the domain name.
Q: What about IDN TLDs such as .みんな? Can Googlebot crawl and index them, so that they can be used in search?
A: Yes. These TLDs can be used the same as other TLDs (it’s easy to check with a query like [site:みんな]). Google treats the Punycode version of a hostname as being equivalent to the unencoded version, so you don’t need to redirect or canonicalize them separately. For the rest of the URL, remember to use UTF-8 for the path & query-string in the URL, when using non-ASCII characters.
DNW: I think this was fairly well known.
Q: Will a .BRAND TLD be given any more or less weight than a .com?
A: No. Those TLDs will be treated the same as a other gTLDs. They will require the same geotargeting settings and configuration, and they won’t have more weight or influence in the way we crawl, index, or rank URLs.
DNW: What will be more interesting to see on this issue in the future is how rankings of multiple SLDs under the same .brand TLD will work. Will it help companies to have a separate shop.brand and customerservice.brand domain name? Or will these not rank as highly as the existing .com or .de website?
Q: How are the new region or city TLDs (like .london or .bayern) handled?
A: Even if they look region-specific, we will treat them as gTLDs. This is consistent with our handling of regional TLDs like .eu and .asia. There may be exceptions at some point down the line, as we see how they’re used in practice.
DNW: This is a big deal for domains such as .London and .NYC. As of right now, Google is saying a .NYC domain name won’t give you a boost to searchers in New York. I suspect this will change over time, as it could improve the search experience.
Q: What about real ccTLDs (country code top-level domains) : will Google favor ccTLDs (like .uk, .ae, etc.) as a local domain for people searching in those countries?
A: By default, most ccTLDs (with exceptions) result in Google using these to geotarget the website; it tells us that the website is probably more relevant in the appropriate country.
DNW: This is well known.
Q: Will Google support my SEO efforts to move my domain from .com to a new TLD? How do I move my website without losing any search ranking or history?
A: We have extensive site move documentation in our Help Center. We treat these moves the same as any other site move. That said, domain changes can take time to be processed for search (and outside of search, users expect email addresses to remain valid over a longer period of time), so it’s generally best to choose a domain that will fit your long-term needs.
DNW: Google is admitting that it’s still really hard to switch a website’s domain name. This is particularly relevant to companies switching to a .brand domain. I’ve noted before that Google could give a huge boost to new top level domain names if it made the transition process easier.