Bill Hartzer

Are New gTLD Domain Names Losing Traffic to Dot COM?

One of the main arguments that I keep being presented with by those who don’t like the New gTLD domain endings is this: New gTLD domain name owners lose traffic to .COM domain names. For example, if I own www.billhartzer.horse, then I will lose traffic to someone mistyping my domain name, and adding .COM to the end like this: billhartzer.horse.com. Many who are not fans of the New gTLD domain extensions (endings) claim that you should NOT buy a New gTLD domain name because you’ll lose traffic to .COM.

Well, being that it could be a valid argument, I wanted to test it. Let’s find some proof that buying a .AGENCY domain will result in you losing traffic to someone trying to go to yourdomain.agency.com.

I wanted to know how many .COM site owners are taking advantage of the possible typo (or appending of .COM) to New gTLD domain names. I have tested (crawled) a sample subdomain on the equivalent .COM domain for every New gTLD domain extension that is currently in GA (General Availability) status. GA status means that the domain extension is live, and people buy those domain names or set up websites on a domain using that extension.

I chose a fictitious character string. This way there’s no way the subdomain could exist currently on the .COM domain, and there’s no possible way that someone has already registered that New gTLD domain. I chose the keyword string of “124bh45a”, as in 124bh45a.agency or 124bh45a.agency.com. I then created a URL such as http://124bh45a.agency.com, and used a crawler to crawl every single one of the equivalent domain names in .COM. It was something like this:

http://124bh45a.cars.com/
http://124bh45a.money.com/
http://124bh45a.rio.com/
http://124bh45a.academy.com/
http://124bh45a.theater.com/

When I crawled all of these URLs, I grabbed important data, such as the URL, the status code of the header, the title tag of the website (if I came across one), and whether or not it redirected to another URL.

Here’s the results:

464 New gTLDs tested, all under GA Status
297 domains DNS lookup failed
3 domains have 403 errors
6 domains have 404 Not Found errors
1 domain has 500 server error
18 domains have 302 redirects to another URL
45 domains have 301 redirects to another URL
92 domains have 200 OK in header (they’re serving up content)

66.16% of New gTLD domain extensions will not resolve to a URL if .COM is appended to the end of their domain.

Total, 307 of the eqivalent .COM domain names won’t resolve, or they will error out for the regular visitor. There is nothing to worry about, a New gTLD domain owner will not lose any potential mistyped traffic. For example, if you own billhartzer.horse, and someone types in billhartzer.horse.com, they won’t be able to get to a website, and nothing will show up in their browser. 66.16 percent of New gTLD domain extensions will not resolve to a URL if .COM is appended to the end of their domain.

Here are some more details about what this test crawl involved, and my thinking behind it.

I created a “fictitious” domain name for every New gTLD that’s currently in GA (General Availability) status. This fictitious domain name was 124bh45a dot something, like 124bh45a.horse. Dot horse (.horse) is a New gTLD domain name extension. You can buy billhartzer.horse, for example.

I then appended .COM to the end of every one of these new domain names. For example, I came up with the URL http://124bh45a.horse.com. I wanted to see how many of the New gTLDs could be potentially losing traffic to their “equivalent” .COM domain names. If you have 124bh45a.horse, then is it even possible that you are losing potential traffic to someone mistyping your .horse domain name? Is it possible that someone would type in 124bh45a.horse.com mistakenly and then end up at a .COM domain name/website instead of YOUR website? That’s what I wanted to know.

How many of the New gTLD’s equivalent .COM domains are taking advantage of the potential typo or type-in traffic, as a result of the New gTLDs?

My research shows that the majority of the equivalent .COM domain names are NOT taking advantage of the New gTLD domain names’ typo traffic where someone accidentally appends “.COM” to the end of a New gTLD. In fact, this is really good news to those who are buying New gTLD domain names. This means that in most cases you will NOT be losing traffic if someone mistakenly mistypes or adds a “.COM” to the end of your domain name.

What’s interesting to note is that the owner of XYZ.com, the equivalent to the New gTLD with the most domain name registrations, .XYZ, is NOT taking advantage of the .XYZ typos. So, if you buy a .XYZ, and someone mistakenly adds .COM to the end of your domain name (like going to 124bh45a.xyz.com, then the domain name will NOT resolve to anything (or an error will be displayed). This is as of August 14, 2016, when I crawled all of these sites.

Wildcard DNS is not turned on at the majority of these .COM websites. When I tested (crawled) the .COM equivalent of all of the New gTLD domain names currently in GA (General Availability status), I found that the .COM owners have not set up wildcard DNS, which means that they would redirect to or display content when someone went to a subdomain (i.e., subdomain.domain.com) on their domain. If they turned this feature on, they would have additional traffic–from those who mistyped or added .COM to the end of a New gTLD domain name.

When I crawled all of the fictitious domain names that I created and tested, I saved all of the data (I exported the results) to a spreadsheet, and have made this spreadsheet available via Google Docs so you can view it. Here’s the URL to view the results of my crawl on August 14, 2016: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1kpGNNHXCJhDdJkJOHDYByVRj5s9phhXS6SwyHXuGxEY/edit?usp=sharing

The data looks like this:

Address
http://124bh45a.academy.com

Content
text/html; charset=UTF-8

Status Code
200

Status
OK

Title Tag
Title tag of web page found

Redirect URI
Url this fictitious URL redirected to

Like I’ve mentioned before, the majority of these fictitious Urls that I crawled (well over 300 of the 464 total), had an error or actually resulted in a “DNS lookup failed” error. The subdomain just doesn’t exist.

So, what’s the bottom line here? What does all of this mean? I think it shows several important things. First off, or most importantly, is the fact that New gTLD domain name owners are generally not losing traffic to the equivalent “.COM” domain name owners. If you buy a .AGENCY domain name, you’re not going to lose any traffic to someone mistyping yourdomain.agency.com because they’ll just get an error, and they’ll then use some other means to find your website.

There are some New gTLD domains that, if you use, you could potentially lose some traffic to someone mistyping your domain name. For example, accountant.com, news.com, berlin.com, dental.com, and gallery.com are a few that will potentially syphon off mistyped and typo traffic to their site. If you type in 124bh45a.gallery.com, thinking you’re going to 124bh45a.gallery, you’ll end up at www.shutterfly.com, as Shutterfly owns Gallery.com and redirects all traffic over to their site.

Finally, there is an opportunity for those who own domain names equivalent to the New gTLD domain names to potentially gain more traffic to their sites. I haven’t studied (yet) how much traffic this means for these .COM owners, and there’s currently about 300 of them that aren’t taking advantage of it. Keep in mind, though, that depending on the domain name and the industry, they just might not want that traffic, and it could mean additional load on their servers, costing them more money in the long run.

Update:
Since posting this, I’ve received some comments. Here’s the comments that I’ve received:

Elena:
In your latest post you said “One of the main arguments that I keep being presented with by those who don’t like the New gTLD domain endings is this: New gTLD domain name owners lose traffic to .COM domain names. For example, if I own www.billhartzer.horse, then I will lose traffic to someone mistyping my domain name, and adding .COM to the end like this: billhartzer.horse.com.”.

No clue why you did this test with subdomains (billhartzer.horse.com). I don’t think anyone is claiming that a gTLD will lose traffic to some subdomain in .com. What some people are claiming is that someone who owns billhartzer.horse may lose traffic to the owner of billhartzerhorse.com (notice that this is not a subdomain).

I didn’t read the whole post but if your subdomain theory was your complete argument it is flawed.

Elena, one of the reasons that I did this particular crawl “test” was to see which of the .COM domains have wildcard DNS turned on and which ones don’t. I did this particular test because people (who love .COM domains and don’t like the New gTLDs) really do tell me that they (think) people DO add .COM to the New gTLD, thus making the domain a subdomain. So, the New gTLD would then lose traffic. Now that you bring up something like billhartzerhorse.com, then that may, in fact, be a good next test for me to do. I’ll have to figure out how to test it properly.

Keep in mind, though, that if someone types in billhartzerhorse.com, there’s most likely not going to be a domain that’s registered…so again the New gTLD wouldn’t lose any traffic. So maybe New gTLD owners need to go ahead and purchase that version, too, and redirect it to their New gTLD?

Another comment from Benoit:


.com can also lose traffic to new gtld

ex. publicaffairsnews.com vs publicaffairs.news

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