Google’s Matt Cutts responds to our opinion piece

Published on March 15th, 2012

By Adrian Kinderis

Today, Matt Cutts, an engineer in the search quality team at Google, published a response to my article on the impact new Top-Level Domains might have on the search results produced by Google and other search engines.

Mr Cutts wrote:

I read a post by someone offering new top-level domain (TLDs). They made this claim: “Will a new TLD web address automatically be favoured by Google over a .com equivalent? Quite simply, yes it will.” Sorry, but that’s just not true, and as an engineer in the search quality team at Google, I feel the need to debunk this misconception. 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.

In response, I would like to thank Matt Cutts for contributing to the debate on this important topic.  I welcome the discussion as the aim of my opinion piece was to get people talking and I encourage a healthy and vigorous conversation on this topic.

I will be the first to admit there were some controversial statements included in the article to spark discussion and raise awareness of the overall debate on how new Top-Level Domains will be treated by Google.

One point that concerns me though is that some people may form a view of my opinion without reading the entire article. It is therefore important to highlight that Matt has commented on one sentence within a 1200 word article where the intention was that the article is read and reviewed in the context of every point and argument put forward, rather than simply one sentence in isolation.

For instance, if you read my article, you will note that I discuss how search engines like Google handle information contained to the right of the dot. I also explain the impact of domain name bias and I sought the views of three industry experts. To conclude the article, I specifically address the importance of creating a relevant TLD that is a signpost for good, trusted and authoritative content – something that Matt identified as being important.

If someone was going to pull out one quote from my article, I think it should be my conclusion:

“It’s here I remind marketers that buying a new TLD isn’t just about buying a key word to the right of the dot – it is about buying an entire slice of the internet. So whilst a new TLD provides clear Google ranking benefits and domain name bias, a first class content strategy to underpin a new TLD will help even more. Define a target market, create credible content for your new TLD community and the Google results will follow.”

This is my personal opinion and I stand by it. Ultimately, we’ll all have to wait and see what policies will be adopted by certain TLDs and how TLD owners will build value and relevant content into their namespaces. Only then will we be able to accurately judge the true impact.

I appreciate the views of Matt and other industry experts. As far as I’m aware, this is the first written statement from Google on this topic and follows a brief web chat by Matt last year. I urge Google and Matt to further expand upon this discussion as the new TLD program develops.

Adrian Kinderis, CEO of ARI Registry Services

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