There’s always a heated debate in SEO circles as to whether or not domain name extensions carry any weight in terms of SEO. Often, the debate circles around whether backlinks from certain domain extensions (usually ones such as.edu or.gov) are worth more than backlinks from other, more common, extensions. Sometimes, the debate will revolve around which domain extension to buy.
There’s no doubt that some backlinks to your website are more valuable than others. But there’s no automatic boost that Google give to a particular domain extension when their algorithm is deciding how important a link is.
Amongst a number of other factors, the algorithm takes into account the strength of the links pointing to the page. This fact is often used to justify claims for extra emphasis being placed on an educational or government domains because the main page on any given site is often quite powerful in the search results purely because lots of people link back to it for reference purposes.
But exactly the same happens to any other high authority website such as Wikipedia or CNN or even the site you’re reading this article on. This site gets lots of links because people are encouraged to re-use the articles on it and are encouraged to include a link back here – a very effective way to get more links pointing to any site and one that’s well worth remembering when you create content for your own site.
The other factor that’s often claimed to help SEO is the domain extension.
A lot of SEO “experts” claim that the less popular domain extensions such as.info and.biz are less favoured in the search results because pages from such sites don’t show up as often when people perform searches.
In reality, the mix of pages shown in the search results pretty much matches the mix of sites available.
The.com domain extension is the most popular in the world and this is reflected in the search results – there are more results from.com domains. But that’s almost totally due to the fact that there are more results to choose from for that extension.
The only time that the extension really comes into play is for national domains, with the exception of the USA where the national domain is.us but everyone tends to assume it’s.com.
Elsewhere in the world, people tend to expect local companies to have the extension applicable to their country.
For instance, French companies will typically have a domain that ends in.fr and most French people would expect that to be the case.
In the UK, domain names usually end in.uk but there are a number of extra things that can appear before that, the most common of which is the one that was first available,.co.uk. More recent extensions like.ltd.uk are much less likely to be encountered.
Some people suggest that a country domain extension helps Google to decide whether or not to return that particular site if you’re searching from the country specific version of their search engine but, it it does, that will only be one of a large number of factors that are used to decide the placements.