Google advises against inexpensive top-level domains (TLDs) due to spam risks, says TLD keywords do not enhance SEO.
In a recent podcast, Google’s Search Relations Team discussed how website owners should approach choosing a top-level domain (TLD).
The discussion weighed the dilemmas of expensive .com domains versus affordable alternatives like .xyz, emphasizing the need to balance cost, credibility, and spam risks.
Team members John Mueller, Gary Illyes, and Martin Splitt advised against going for the cheapest TLD options, warning that spammers tend to target free and low-cost domains, which can negatively impact search rankings.
Additionally, they debunked the myth that TLD keywords provide SEO benefits, stating matching keywords in the TLD does not directly improve rankings.
This article delves into Google’s Search Relations team’s guidance on choosing the right TLD to boost your brand’s visibility and reputation.
The Perils Of Cheap TLDs
Illyes made it clear during the discussion that he advises against opting for cheap TLDs.
In response to Mueller’s question about whether to use a more affordable domain like .xyz or invest in a more common one like .com, Illyes stated:
“My gut reaction is people should stay away from the cheapest TLDs, especially if they are free.”
The reason behind this advice? Spammers.
Illyes explained that cheaper and free TLDs attract more spam, potentially impacting your legitimate site’s visibility on search engines.
“Because of spammers… if the TLD is filled with spam, search engines might have trouble finding your content.”
The danger lies in search engines associating your site with the predominant spam presence in that TLD.
Illyes further elaborated:
“[If a TLD] is overrun by spam, and over 99% of the content there is spam, we might not want to pick up sitemaps from those domain names because the chances of leading to spam is way too high.”
Illyes advises spending more on a TLD that isn’t overrun with spam.
However, he added that making a heavy investment in a .com domain name should be a business decision focused on branding and marketing rather than SEO.
No SEO Advantage For TLD Keywords
Google’s Search Relations team debunked the misconception that having a TLD matching your keywords provides an inherent SEO advantage.
When Splitt asked if owning a domain like fantastic.coffee could offer any SEO benefits for a coffee shop, Illyes responded with a definitive “No.”
When selecting a domain, resist the temptation of cheap or free TLDs, as these are prone to spam, which can hurt your search ranking and reputation.
Concentrate on picking a reputable TLD within your budget, considering that keyword-matching your TLD doesn’t directly improve SEO.
For more on website domain best practices, check out the full episode of Google’s podcast.
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