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Can a Domain Name Boost SEO Rankings?

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When choosing your domain, does it matter which extension you choose? Does Google rank certain domains, like .com domains, over others?
We know that search engine optimization (SEO) is important to your business. Let’s take a look at how Google considers domains when deciding how to rank your site.

Anatomy of a Domain

Every domain name you register at Namecheap has two parts: the part you create at the left of the dot and the options you have at the right of the dot (e.g. .com or .net).

For the extension, or ‘top-level domain’, you have a number of options. These include generic options like .com TLD and .net, as well as more descriptive choices like .accountant and .contractors.

Does my choice of a top-level domain name affect my Google rankings?

Google has answered this question unequivocally: your choice of a top-level domain name doesn’t affect or improve your search rankings.
As of right now, Google doesn’t pay attention to what’s right of the dot unless it’s a country code domain name (more on that in a second).

So if you want to set up a site for your guitar shop, your choice of a .com domain name or .guitars domain name won’t affect your search rankings. A charity choosing between a .org domain and .help doesn’t have to worry about the choice when it comes to search results.

The Exception: Country Code Domain Extensions

The one caveat to the rule about Google and search rankings involves country-code domain names.

Country-code domain names have two letters to the right of the dot, such as .ca TLD for Canada.

Google considers the country code domain name when it’s determining if a website’s content is targeted to a particular region. Certain top-level domains, such as Canada’s, will affect search results and rankings, with the sites prioritized for people who are browsing in those countries.

So if your audience is in Canada, a domain ending with .ca might be a good choice.

Generic Country Code Domains

Not all country code domains are created equal.

As we explored in a previous post, Google treats some country domain names as generic, or universal. This means they work exactly the same as a .com domain. Check out Google’s list of the country domain names they treat as generic.

Get Creative with Domains

When it comes to choosing a domain name, Google is okay with you using domains in interesting ways. At Namecheap you can find hundreds of available top-level domain names, so you’re sure to find one that works for your site!


Andrew Allemann is editor of Domain Name Wire, the longest-running blog covering the business of domain names. Domain Name Wire has covered the business of domain name investing for over ten years.

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Andrew Allemann avatar

Andrew Allemann

Andrew is the founder and editor of Domain Name Wire, a publication that has been covering domain names since 2005. He has personally written over 10,000 posts covering domain name sales, policy, and strategies for domain name owners. Andrew has been quoted in stories about domain names in The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times and Fortune. More articles written by Andrew.

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