Site icon Bill Hartzer

Is .Com Better than a New gTLD Domain Name?

new gtld market share
New gTLD market share courtesy ntldstats.com

As you may be aware, if you read my blog regularly, you probably know by now that I’ve been a fan of the new gTLD domain names, especially keyword rich ones, since they were first introduced. It seems as though you either really love the new gTLD domain names and see the opportunities they provide, or you don’t like them. I’ve run across quite a few people who just don’t like the new gTLD domain names. Some say that their value is limited, and others have event told me that they will fail.

Recently, I decided to do some real-world tests to see if the new gTLD domain names are “good enough” to use for online marketing efforts, and, more specifically, search engine marketing. I decided to set up a series of tests to see the results.

After seeing the research, Joe Alagna, from 101Domain.com, had the following to say:

“Wow – What fun reading. Anyone interested in new gTLDs will like seeing this research. I’m happy to see some real non-biased study on it. The unfounded hype that’s been out there so far doesn’t help IMHO.”

In the first test, I was able to secure two keyword rich domain names: one with the keyword in the domain name, and the other with the keyword in the domain name and in the new gTLD.

I chose these domain names for the primary test:

www.3CaratDiamonds.com
www.3Carat.Diamonds

and I chose brand-related keywords for the second test. I chose these domain names for the second test:

www.MattitosMenu.com
www.Mattitos.menu

I set up two separate landing pages. One landing page for the “diamonds” test and another landing page for the “menu” test. In this case, I wanted to make sure that everything was the same for each test. So, everything was exactly the same, including the ad copy used, the landing page, and even the conversions. The only change between each test was the domain name being used.

My tests ran on Google AdWords, since there was a better chance of getting specific results that we could track. And since Google’s organic search engine rankings depend on having unique content on each site, narrowing it down to only the domain name having an effect on results was not possible or feasible.

As for the organic search engine rankings for the new gTLDs, keep in mind what Google’s Matt Cutts said about the subject:

“Google has a lot of experience in returning relevant web pages, regardless of the top-level domain (TLD). Google will attempt to rank new TLDs appropriately, but I don’t expect a new TLD to get any kind of initial preference over .com, and I wouldn’t bet on that happening in the long-term either. If you want to register an entirely new TLD for other reasons, that’s your choice, but you shouldn’t register a TLD in the mistaken belief that you’ll get some sort of boost in search engine rankings.”

According to Matt Cutts, buying a keyword-rich new gTLD domain name apparently does not carry any extra weight when it comes to actual search engine rankings, at least not in Google’s organic search results. But what about actual real-world search engine marketing (PPC)? What if we were to see what real consumers desired?

This is exactly why I set up these Google AdWords tests. So, let’s take a quick look at some of the results of my tests.

The Results
After I ran our Google AdWords campaigns, it was clear to me that the .Com outperformed the .Diamonds domain name in certain key areas. However, in other key areas, the .Diamonds domain name performed much better.

Based on the results of my “diamonds” test, it ultimately cost us more to use the .Com in a Google AdWords campaign than it did a .Diamonds domain name. The overall cost was $.43 cents more (the .Com was more expensive).

We also looked at the results for the test on MattitosMenu.com versus Mattitos.Menu. These results were, in fact, quite different than what happened on the first test. Let’s take a look at the test results first for the .Com versus the .Diamonds doman name, and then the results of the test for MattitosMenu.com versus Mattitos.Menu.

It cost less per click for a .Diamonds domain than to run the same keywords on a .Com domain name, and the total campaign cost was lower. With a higher CTR on the .Com domain name, it appears that end users may favor the .Com domain name over the .Diamonds domain name. The .Diamonds domain name, however, was given quite a few more impressions than the .Com domain name, giving the .Diamonds domain name more visibility. In fact, it appears that Google AdWords actually favors use of the .Diamonds domain name, giving it more impressions and even better positioning. The average position for the .Diamonds domain name was better.

Another of the data points I looked at is the effective CPM for the keywords. I calculated the effective CPM for each of the .Com and .Diamonds campaigns, and they are as follows:

3Carat.Diamonds
Effective CPM (cost per thousand impressions): $4.02 per thousand views

3CaratDiamonds.com
Effective CPM (cost per thousand impressions): $7.24 per thousand views

Based on the “Effective CPM”, it cost nearly twice as much to advertise a .COM domain name than it did a .DIAMONDS domain name. So, it appears that Google AdWords favors the .Diamonds domain name over the .Com domain name.

What About Conversions?
Where it really gets interesting is when I look at the conversions. I set up two different goals for the “diamonds” test. One was the download of a PDF file, and the other was a “Shop Diamond Rings” button located at the bottom of the landing page.

There were more conversions on the .com domain name for both the download of the PDF file and for clicks on the “Shop Diamond Rings” button on the site, and the total conversion rate was higher on the .Com domain name than it is on the .Diamonds domain name. So while the Google AdWords tends to favor the new gTLD domain name, consumers appear to favor the .Com (we saw nearly a 20 percent better conversion rate on the .Com domain name).

Bottom Line
My overall goal when setting up these tests was ultimately to determine whether using a .Com domain name or a new gTLD domain name is better when it comes to search engine marketing and Google AdWords. I am not totally convinced that one is necessarily “better” than the other.

What I did see, though, is that Google AdWords tends to favor the new gTLDs, as they served up more impressions, for less cost, and a better average position then the .Com domain names I used. At the same time, though, when it came to conversions, the public appeared to favor the .Com domain names.

I wanted to be totally transparent when it comes to my testing and the tests that I performed. I have compiled all of the data, including the actual CTR, CPC, budget, and even the keywords that I used during the tests. Contact me and I can give you information about the specific tests from research “Search Engine Marketing Study: .Com Vs. New gTLDs” and my 27 page white paper that has all of the results and data.

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