Last month, when we commented on a change to the mystical Google Algorithm that would pave the way for new gTLDs to receive the same search index score as a regular com, net and org, people raised an eyebrow or two over their motives. However, it was clear that the changes would be in line with Google’s their universal mission to provide the most relevant search results to every single user. Well now they appear to be ready to take another step that will make the adoption of the new gTLDs more and more attractive to brand and trademark owners.
Google currently apply a criteria on their search results called “Domain Clustering”; which essentially is a way of limiting the number of search results that are returned for any one particular domain name to two. This was deemed slightly unfair, so Google expanded the relevant links under a particular domain name on the first page of the search results. This meant that a search for NetNames for example, would return a positive hit on NetNames.com with a brief description and then underneath it, a short summary of the pages within the NetNames website, such as About Us, Domain Name Management and so on.
External webmasters then came up with a cunning plan that bypassed this restriction. By placing content on subdomains, multiple sources for the same website would appear higher up in search results. So should we have wanted to expand our prominence on the front page of Google, we would have put content on pages such as aboutus.netnames.com, domainmanagement.netnames.com and so on. This was a strategy many webmasters were planning on deploying, instead of investing in a new gTLD because Google treated a subdomain, and an actual domain name, separately.
Last week Google’s expert on all search matters, Matt Cutts* outlined a change that will eliminate the distinction between subdomains and domains being treated differently. Cutts explained that Google would soon be launching a new change that will make it less likely to see results from the same domain name, if the domain name had already appeared in previous results three or four times before within that search. In addition, once you’ve seen a cluster of about four results from a specific domain name, the subsequent pages are going to be less likely to show you results from that domain name.
The goal here is to strike the right balance between offering diverse results but at the same time return the most relevant results for each search. The new gTLDs give us the opportunity to do so. The ability for a brand to own a new gTLD and execute its domain presence with strategic direction that delivers relevancy for customers searching online will definitely look favorable in Google’s eyes.
So webmasters be aware – subdomains are no longer the flavor of the month with Google. The future is the new TLD.
*Watch the Matt Cutts video:
Written by Stuart Fuller, Director of Communication and Commercial Operations, NetNames