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New Domain Names Help Dealership’s Search Rankings

Getting our industry to take a good look at new domain names (also known as TLDs or top level domains) comes with its challenges, including the “business as usual” resistance: “My website works just fine as is – and I’ve spent a good amount of marketing dollars towards it!” While it’s true that many dealers have worked hard to build and market their .com websites, new auto-specific TLDs (.Cars / .Car / .Auto) are opening up the doors to a wide range of opportunities to improve online marketing in this ever evolving internet landscape. 

Other industries, including legal, entertainment and finance are already seeing positive benefits from new TLDs like .Attorney, .Movie, .Bank. Think of it this way: If you were a real estate developer, would you ignore an opportunity to buy a prime piece of property in a great neighborhood?

Not surprisingly, one of the biggest concerns from dealers is the potential impact a new TLD could have on Google search: “My website already appears at the top of Google search results – why should I switch?”  

It’s worth looking at a recent case study, conducted by independent SEO experts, Globe Runner, which looked at a St. Louis car dealership’s move from STLMotorcars.com to STL.Cars. Some of the ‘before’ and ‘after’ data that was analyzed consisted of engagement, organic search traffic, website rankings in Google, and whether or not visitors were confused by the move. The study found an improvement in over 50% of keywords that were tested, an increase in conversions from organic search, an increase in new sessions by nearly 8%, and a 34% increase in referral traffic.

Not only will the new STL.Cars url be easier for customers to remember and type into their mobile device, but it also helps solidify the STL brand on an authoritative, industry-specific domain.

Another example is a website from Scholfield Automotive, who moved from wichitacars.com (a 15-year-old domain) to Wichita.Cars. Wichita.Cars now ranks number one for the search term “wichita cars” everywhere in the world: see for yourself – visit google.de and search for “wichita cars” - you’ll see the site as the top result.

Once you start looking at the opportunities around the new TLDs – from shortening your current URL making it more mobile-friendly to establishing regional URLs to expand your marketing reach – I think you’ll find that this worldwide web thing is just getting started!

 

 

 

Alex Lau

No they don't. It’s a bunch of fluff. It will cause a bunch of headaches.

Unfortunately, there are TLD vendors out there pitching the world to dealers and are good at it and dealers fall prey to this stuff. They get talked into spending thousands on a new domain.

.com’s aren’t going anywhere and anytime soon. 

http://www.nichepursuits.com/goodbye-exact-match-domains-hello-brandable-websites, etc.

The last I checked Exact Keyword Domains mean very little to SEO. It’s a lot more about branded domains. If changes to domain extensions assist in branding (I don’t think they do) in terms of helping customers remember dealers better, ok. I don’t think these are cheap, so the ROI is limited for dealers. In other words, not a good investment for them. Dealers don't necessarily need an automotive keyword in their domain name. Websites without them in there rank just fine = updated / fresh, relevant or expert content matters.

Additionally, steps would be needed to create 301 redirects. Changing successful domain names will just cause confusion. If anything it hurts SEO (albeit, according to most SEO experts domain age means nothing now).

I’ve no idea of Car Registry (3rd party, trying to attack this). They seem a little bit dodgy to me pushing these TLDs.

There are similar initiatives for .hotels, .pizza, .diamonds, .homes, etc. It seems the powers that be ICANN release them on different dates for some reason.

http://searchengineland.com/google-explains-how-they-handle-the-new-top-level-domains-tlds-225671, etc.

Google, Bing, etc. do some strange things (mostly for their own benefit), but I don't see them classifying TLDs with any additional value. Google has a lot of experience in returning relevant web pages, regardless of the top-level domain (TLD). Google will attempt to rank new TLDs appropriately, but I don't expect a new TLD to get any kind of initial preference over .com, and I wouldn't bet on that happening in the long-term either. If you want to register an entirely new TLD for other reasons, that's your choice, but you shouldn't register a TLD in the mistaken belief that you'll get some sort of boost in search engine rankings.

It just does not seem like it's worth it, but there's always a chance the search engines might give it some added juice.

  1. What does Google want? They want relevant, real content on the internet that people want to read and tell other people about. If Google doesn’t bring you the most relevant content when you search, they aren’t doing their job. So by definition, even the word Search Engine Optimization (SEO) means to “game” the Google search engines (and others) to get your valuable content ranked higher than it would be if left alone to the forces of the Web. The bottom line is that all external SEO efforts are counterfeit other than: Writing, designing, recording, or videoing real and relevant content that benefits those who search.
  2. SEO of any kind is pursued by gaming the system.There is nothing “natural” about any form of SEO.The fundamental concept of SEO is exploiting a flaw in a search engine’s ranking algorithm. The difference between white and black hat tactics is merely a function of where Google decides to draw a line, and this line is at least somewhat arbitrary. Google's goal is to confuse search engine optimization (SEO) efforts and to uncover aggressive SEO techniques through delaying, or obfuscating results from SEO changes being made.

Apologies to anyone in the SEO business. :-)

Did The Move Help Organic Search Engine Rankings?
Here's the problem with that study, they do not disclose what other SEO variables might have been updated or changed and there are plenty.
http://backlinko.com/google-ranking-factors.

I call total BS on the metrics below.


How many other factors (traditional or digital marketing wise) could have caused this increase, if the increase is even legit? It was not the switch to a new TLD. It the switch to the new TLD along with the ADDITIONAL marketing processes around it (again, if this is real).

"Hey, look everybody. Look at what happened when we SWITCHED our domain name! Ohhhhh... we didn't disclose the fact that we ran radio, TV, newspaper and direct marketing ads and additional PR stunts (with STL.cars) which would obviously increase our organic direct traffic numbers. We didn't care to track it, uniquely. No, we failed to let you know of that part... sorry guys. Move along like good lemmings, thanks!"

There is a long conversation about this over at http://forum.dealerrefresh.com/threads/will-you-buy-a-car-cars-or-auto-extension.4672/

Alex Lau

Retargeting ads, they're following me on Twitter and I see this mumbo jumbo. I really can't believe they're using a story like this to promote their product (to be honest with you).

http://www.drivingsales.com/sammy-q...ains-edgy-like-sushi-but-better-for-marketing

Automotive Domains: Edgy like Sushi, but Better for Marketing
We’re very excited about the possibilities these new domains offer our dealership – and believe they will also have a great impact on our SEO. I have already migrated my website to www.brilliance.auto, which ranks #1 on Google for terms like “brilliance auto,” “brilliantly certified,” and “brilliance NJ.” I will come back and report on our progress once my new websites have launched.

Until then, it would be great to hear if any others of you have acquired a taste for this brand of sushi!

---------------------------

Car buyers in his demographic searching for the word "Brilliance Auto" and "Brilliantly Certified" and "Brilliance NJ" might find his location, but the search traffic volume on those keywords is extremely low and searchers should have already been able to find their group for those keywords (previously) because of on-site content (nothing to do with domain name changes). 

This is not helping any dealer's SEO. I would have left this alone, but they are chasing me with ads.

Alex Lau

https://plus.google.com/+MattCutts/posts/4VaWg4TMM5F

I read a post by someone offering new top-level domain (TLDs). They made this claim: "Will a new TLD web address automatically be favoured by Google over a .com equivalent? Quite simply, yes it will."

Sorry, but that's just not true, and as an engineer in the search quality team at Google, I feel the need to debunk this misconception. Google has a lot of experience in returning relevant web pages, regardless of the top-level domain (TLD). Google will attempt to rank new TLDs appropriately, but I don't expect a new TLD to get any kind of initial preference over .com, and I wouldn't bet on that happening in the long-term either. If you want to register an entirely new TLD for other reasons, that's your choice, but you shouldn't register a TLD in the mistaken belief that you'll get some sort of boost in search engine rankings.

Alex Lau

Google reiterates how new TLDs are handled in search results
http://domainnamewire.com/2015/07/21/google-reiterates-how-new-tlds-are-handled-in-search-results

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.

https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2015/07/googles-handling-of-new-top-level.html

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.

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.

Alex Lau

https://www.neustar.biz/resources/faqs/new-tld-faqs

I'm incredulous.

Of course if you've the same content or adding relevant content, the TLD switch isn't going to hurt you. Without positively affecting the two hundred or so algorithmic / SEO factors (variables), no one has witnessed a massive impact (drastic increase) in their organic rankings. The examples below are isolated with no real verifiable data to prove their cases. Instead Lauren Kelley debunks them (*see bold).

------------------------------------------------------------

Will a new TLD hurt my SEO?
A top-level domain is just one of hundreds of elements in a search algorithm. Early use cases indicate no negative search impact, and even potential benefits.

A website’s TLD is just one of many pieces in the algorithms that power search engines such as Google.

“If and when there is enough information that [.brands] should be a signal [in search], it would become one,” says Google strategic .brand partner manager, Lauren Kelley.

New TLD holders should (as now) focus on building highly relevant content on their .brand and .generic to earn search visibility.

“If Nike launches lots of .nike domains with highly relevant content, for example, over time [.nike] may surface higher for Nike searches,” says Kelley.

For now, applicants can see how Google is reacting to newly launched TLDs on the web with a simple site parameter search of “site:. brand” or “site:.generic.”

Initial observations from our own research include:

  • In a search for VDI guru, VDI.guru ranks higher than VDIguru.com.
  • For Monash University, the first organization in the world to go live with a .brand, monash.edu.au continues to lead results over .monash.

It’s safe to say that there are no negative impacts. “If you’re building new content complementary to your .com, it won’t hurt,” says Kelley.

Recent TLD history confirms this notion. Cartier now uses Cartier.us as its primary web address in the United States. As shown below, a search for “Cartier,” Cartier.us ranks #1 in search results, with its .com counterpart ranking second.

Popular start-up tech publication Tech Cocktail recently switched from using its keyword inclusive URL techcocktail.com to a shorter name: tech.co. As shown below, it sustained all of its original search rankings with the new .co extension, and it continues to rank #1 for “Tech Cocktail” in search.

LeWeb, the #1 Internet event in Europe, with over 3,500 participants from 76 countries, also saw positive results in SEO when they transitioned from Leweb.net to Leweb.co:

  • Prior to the switch, Leweb.net was not the single #1 listing for branded “Leweb” terms and not in top 150 listings for competitive terms such as “2012 web conference.”
  • After a smooth transition and content optimization in May 2012, Leweb.co experienced ranking increases of over 50 spots for more competitive terms such as “2012 web conference,” and a 123% increase in monthly organic visits.

“The same rules that apply today will apply tomorrow: content and relevancy,” says Kelley.

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