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Google’s John Mueller explains the impact of domain extensions on SEO

January 17, 2022 0 comments

Certain domain extensions — for example, .com, .net, .org, etc. — have always had the perception of being more important than other domain extensions.

The question is, how do domain extensions affect a website’s search engine optimisation and rankings. 

In a recent episode of the Ask Googlebot video series on YouTube, Google’s John Mueller answered this question.

.com domains vs. Other extensions

A most commonly asked question concerning domains is if .com domains are somehow superior as compared to most other extensions? 

The first question answered by Mueller was covering this very query where the user hints if they can use .space, which is a newer extension.  Mueller recommended to “go for it.”

According to John:

“The newer top-level domains (TLDs) are equivalent to other generic top-level domains like .com when it comes to SEO. Pick something you like, there are lots of options out there now.”

A non-www or www domain? 

The next question was from a user working on their blog and wanted to know if they should go with a www domain or a non-www one, and whether either option can affect SEO.

Mueller straight up clears that Google holds no specific preference as to which one you’re using, so it all comes down to you at the end. You are allowed to work through the one you prefer. He hints that yes, there can be some technical issues that sometimes interfere, but otherwise, it is your own choice. 

Using rel-canonical Tag 

The next query was about rel-canonical tag element and if it can be used across different domains, such as generic top-level domains (gTLDs) or country-code top-level domains (ccTLDs).

Mueller confirms that this could be done, as the rel=canonical link element is not limited to the same domain name.

A global website with a ccTLD extension

The last question was about ccTLDs extensions (country-code top-level domain extensions) and whether they work for a global website without having a negative impact on search rankings?

John Mueller confirmed that this can be done.

“The answer is yes. While a country-code domain name helps our systems to geo-target for that country, it still allows for global visibility.

The only limitation is that you can’t specify other countries for geotargeting. For example, if you have a .fr website for France, you could use that globally. But you wouldn’t be able to explicitly geotarget users in Brazil.”

Summary

To summarize:

  • It is totally acceptable to use a newer domain extension that isn’t a .com,
  • Google has no preference for www or non-www domains,
  • Rel=canonical link element isn’t limited to the same domain name, and
  • Country-specific domain extensions can have global visibility.

You can watch the full video here.

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