In 2015, Google added a myriad of new generic top-level domains. Since then, there have been concerns as to whether these staggering numbers are an SEO blessing or a curse. Some argue that popular TLDs like .com and .org are the best for SEO while others claim that using niche specific TLDs like .travel or .mobi is the way to go.

How does Google rank top-level domains?

According to Google, all TLDs are created equal. None is given preferential treatment over others as far as ranking is concerned. This may be technically true, but it’s also true that some TLDs have more authority than others. Some TLDs are associated with trusted sites and others with spammy sites. Geo-specific TLDs such as country code top-level domains make a website more important in a specific geographic region giving it a higher rank. This proves that the choice of TLD matters, regardless of whether Google actively ranks them differently or not.

Tips about

Choosing a TLD

In the early days of the internet, there were only a handful of TLDs. The many choices now available make it more difficult to find a suitable domain name. In terms of value, TLDs can be divided into three tiers.

  • The High Tier

These are domains like .edu, .com and .gov. The .com TLD, which stands for commercial, is the most popular TLD in the world. Cognitive fluency dictates that .com is the best TLD choice since internet users have a strong association with it. .gov and .edu TLDs, which are used for government sites and educational sites respectively, are restricted domains. Before registering your domain with these TLDs, you have to prove that you are who you claim to be and that your site content is correct and relevant. This gives the restricted TLDs credibility, which translates to high Google ranking.

  • The middle tier

These constitute the bulk of the available TLDS. Most generic TLDs fall into this category. They are perfectly functional, but they do not give you a competitive edge. This is because they have the same authority. They only differ in flavor and branding.

  • The bottom tier

 hese are actively detrimental TLDs. Using them creates negative associations to your brand. Google may not rank your site poorly if you use a stereotypically bad domain extension but users might not take your legitimate site seriously. Additionally, in the event you stray outside the typical white hat SEO rules and build a site of questionable quality, Google will use your spammy TLD against you.