The range of generic top-level domains (gTLDs) is expanding to include new options such as .Hotel, .RealEstate and .Berlin.

Will they help you rank higher in searches?

Of course, Google has categorically denied that there would be any rankings benefit from using the new domain extensions.

And this seems to align with its strategy of reducing the impact of keywords in domain names which was very clearly demonstrated with the roll out of the EMD algorithm update in October 2012 (this downgraded the positive impact on rankings of having domain names which included keywords that exactly matched search queries when the site itself did not provide quality relevant content).

But it is still intriguing to speculate whether the new gTLDs might provide a ranking benefit.

After all, doesn’t it make sense to show domains ending with .hotel higher up in searches relating to hotels? Or for city specific searches (eg ‘hotels in Berlin’) to place hotel sites with the .Berlin extension above others?

To investigate, we analysed the rankings of .Berlin domains both in the local (Location: Berlin) area and in non-local Google searches. 

We used a specific keyword set and compared the outcomes with the equivalent search results for .de and .com domains.

The analysis shows that .Berlin domains perform better in local searches than in non-local searches in 42% of cases. For comparison, websites using the .de national domain ending perform better locally in only about 28% of cases.

In fact we found that domains with the .Berlin extension are ranked 1.18x higher on average in local searches than .com and .de domains (in many cases it was as much as four positions higher).

So back to the original question: can the new gTLDs become a ranking factor that has a positive impact?

The early evidence from our study indicates that there obviously is a difference and gTLDs rank better, at least for local searches.

It should be noted that this was a rather limited ad hoc analysis; partly because the number of.Berlin domains is still relatively small and because very few of the new gTLDs are currently represented in search results.

But there is at least the beginning of a trend which can be investigated by further analysis.

In general, I think Google will treat the new gTLDs less as a keyword and more as a category. In recent years, Google has tended towards favouring pages in search results that cover the topics relevant to search queries in a comprehensive, holistic way with unique added value information.

So it remains to be seen whether Google will make an exception and convey rankings benefits to specific TLDs.

Marcus Tober

Published 1 December, 2014 by Marcus Tober

Marcus Tober is CTO at Searchmetrics GmbH and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

19 more posts from this author

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Comments (2)

David Green

David Green, Head of Global Digital Marketing at KPMG

gTLDs can provide a contributory boost to SEO rankings in that they provide signals on semantic relevance and geographical association (the subject of your comparison study). I covered this topic as part of a webinar on gTLDs last week - you can view the slides on the KPMG SlideShare account:

Google themselves view the introduction of gTLDs as a fundamental change to the internet (which they are) and also plan to be very aggressive in rolling out the gTLDs which they applied for. Operating a secure brand gTLD registry system at the world root of the Internet is very different to simply registering a new domain name of course, and those 600 brands which did apply to ICANN to operate a gTLD registry system may also enjoy a speed benefit (web page resolves faster as domain lookup is against their own registry as part of their own Internet infrastructure) - and faster page loads are also a contributing technical signal to SEO.

over 3 years ago

Simone Kurtzke

Simone Kurtzke, Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Robert Gordon University

Very interesting topic and close to my own heart - I recently bought a new gTLD ( for these exact reasons (semantic relevance / geographical association). My post on the potential value of buying .scot can be found here: - I think this may be an excellent move for businesses in Scotland as it could generate competitive advantage in the SERPs.

over 3 years ago

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