Do Domain Extensions Really Matter in SEO?

Before owning or managing a website, you probably never thought much about the latter half of a domain name. You call the website Bing or Yahoo, and then ignore what comes next. Occasionally the second half of the domain name matters, such as when you’re looking for a government document or educational website, but your general surfing-the-web needs don’t usually pay attention to the three little letters tacked onto the real name of the website.

For those who are unfamiliar, the second half of a domain is called the “domain extension.” There are several different domain extensions; all of which mean something slightly different. Below is a list of some of the most popular domain extensions that you might see in the U.S.:

  • .gov – Only government run websites hold this domain extension.
  • .edu – This is used for educational websites.
  • .org – Generally used for non-profit organizations/non-commercial entities.
  • .com – This is the #1 choice for most webmasters. It is typically used for any type of website that is “commercial” in nature.
  • .net – This stands for “network” and is typically used for many online operations. This is probably the second most popular extension used.
  • .info – This isn’t a very popular extension and was once heavily used by spammers, but many companies full of information use this extension.

When starting a website, you are going to have to decide which domain extension to use. If you’re a government run website, a website run by an educational institute, or a non-profit organization, the domain extension is clear. However, it isn’t so clear for other types of general websites. This led me to wonder: Does domain extension really matter:

Why Domain Extensions Do Not Matter from an SEO Perspective

As it turns out, your domain extension should have nothing to do with your SEO efforts. These domain extensions only exist to help categorize different information on the web. People question domain extensions because they feel like they often see certain domain extensions popping up on their search engine pages. For example, you don’t typically see a .info coming up when searching on Google; however you often see .com websites because this is the most widely used extension.

For this reason, people have come to assume that these domain extensions rank higher on a search engine results page. Unfortunately, this misconception is the reason that less-known extensions appear to not rank as highly as well-known extensions. People generally link back to .com sites and .edu sites because they feel they offer the most value, but this isn’t true! The domain extension has absolutely nothing to do with the type of information that is being put out onto a website. Other SEO must-haves—unique content, backlinks, etc.—determine whether or not a site is quality, and search engines follow these rules.

Domain Extensions That Do Matter

The only type of extension that matters is a country code extensions (such as .us in the U.S). Country extensions will not rank as highly on search engines in foreign countries, so if your primary audience is overseas you may want to stay away from a .us extension.

When it comes to choosing an extension, do not worry about SEO. People may be more apt to click on popular extensions, so it’s something to think about, but the actual search engines do not care. They want website that can offer quality to readers. This should be your priority.

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