On April 25th, the DNA publicly announced the results of a commissioned study titled “Hidden Advantages of a Relevant Domain Name” to understand the impact top-level domain name extensions (TLDs) may have on organic search engine results. Below is a Q&A with the lead researcher of the study, Chris Boggs of Web Traffic Advisors, who brings nearly two decades of search and domain name expertise.

Q. What was this study all about?

The Hidden Advantages of a Relevant Domain Name study is one of the deeper studies that I know of which investigates the case for domain name extensions and their ability to influence SEO rankings. There have been other studies that have come out in the last six months on a single domain name case study, but this is the first study of multiple domain names across different industries. The study looks at the organic search engine ranking performance of certain websites using customized or newer domain name extensions like .Diamonds and .Jewelry for example. In short, this is the most recent study that, in some regards, sets the record straight in terms of the ability for specific domain name extensions — especially newer or customized domain name extensions that became more recently available – to have similar or relatively better SEO results as the far more common and often well-entrenched.Com, .Edu or .Org domain name extensions.

Q. What was the key takeaway from the study?

The number one key takeaway from the Hidden Advantages of a Relevant Domain Name study is that it takes less link authority, based on most of the examples we studied, to rank well and be competitive with a new or custom domain name extension. This is significant from an SEO perspective because there have been years of speculation and even research around the idea that having the keyword in the URL itself is helpful. That is: if the word you want to rank for is anywhere in the web address of the page, it can help to rank for that keyword. Although, there was a lot of evidence that pointed in this direction it was a bit of a leap to say that having a keyword in your domain name extension had SEO value. There was no real research to show whether or not having a root domain such as healthinsurance.com helps more versus a domain name extension like .Insurance. This study is one of the first of its kind to show evidence of the value of having a keyword within a domain name extension.

Q. Who and why should anyone read this study?

This Hidden Advantages of a Relevant Domain Name study indicates that having a domain name extension may be another marketing strategy to consider in competitive markets to further optimize search engine results. The data clearly shows that domain name extensions can do well in SEO rankings if they include keywords within them.

Marketers would benefit from reading this study and the related blog and infographic. It provides them a great deal of data and suggests new ways to think about and execute their SEO. I also think the level of detail in the study will satisfy SEO and domain name professionals.

Q. Any suggestions for further reading on SEO?

SEM Post, Search Engine Land Blog, and Search Engine Journal are respected leaders for this type of content. For those of us that are “geekier,” I suggest WebmasterWorld Forums. I learn regularly from the discussions across SEO and digital marketing topics, and there even is a specific section of WebmasterWorld Forum for domain names as well as many other categories. It really helps you to understand how SEO geeks speak and think.

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