Google's latest algorithm change has an impact for ccTLD owners

The domain name industry always sits up and takes note when Google’s head of search spam Matt Cutts give us the latest changes to the complex algorithms that drives search results. This week, his updated featured news on how Google will redefine their search results for websites using ccTLDs (country code Top Level Domains). He provided an answer to a specific question raised about the growing trend of using ccTLDs instead of gTLDs (generic Top Level Domains):

“As memorable .COM domains become more expensive, more developers are choosing alternative new domains like .IO and .IM – which Google geo-targets to small areas. Do you discourage this activity?”

Cutts explained that most domains at a country level contains content specific to that country. When a site uses a ccTLD instead of a gTLD, Google is now going to assume that the website’s content applies to the region/country specified by the domain. So for instance, Google will expect to see content related to Denmark if a .dk domain name is used. If the content is not relevant to the ccTLD, then Google may penalize the website in the search algorithm for providing unrelated content on the domain name.

So this change could be bad news to some companies who, not being able to secure the relevant gTLDs, have adopted a ccTLD. But the good news is that Google have recently widened the number of domain names it classes as gTLDs.  Vanity domain name suffixes such as .dj, .fm, .gg, .nu, .tv and .co are included on that list, so webmasters using a .fm perhaps for a radio station website will not have to suddenly start translating their content into French.

Stuart Fuller, Director of Commercial Operations and Communications, NetNames

31 July 2013

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