Entire industries have been built around Google rankings, and search optimization can seem daunting for a n00b entering the game. If you’re one of those n00bs, this stat might make you nervous: at the end of 2012, the Internet housed more than 252 million domain names. That’s 252 million results that your website has to compete with to reach the front page of Google.
Now, any self-respecting SEO would’ve paused after that sentence and made the argument that if you have the right keywords and title tags, websites are technically only competing with other pages that produce similar content. But walk with me here.
Verisign, the registry for Top-Level Domains (TLDs), provided an overview for the growth and popularity of various TLDs in a recent report. In 2012, Internet domains increased by 11.8 percent, or 26.6 million names. The top domain is still .com with 106.2 million names with .net following in the non-Country Code category with a sad 14.9 million names.
Other than the mainstream .com, .net and .org domains, the other types that topped Verisign’s report were ccTLDs, or Country Codes. The top five were .de (Germany), .tk (Tokelau), .uk (United Kingdom), .cn (China) and .nl (Netherlands). It appears that the Internet is becoming more geographical, and this can help or hurt your SEO.
When Google crawlers read a ccTLD they use that information to identify your website rather than reading the server’s information. This is great if you use a .de domain but use servers in the UK. Joey’s Pizza in Berlin doesn’t have to compete for a spot at the front page with Joey’s Pizza in Colorado Springs or Joey’s Pizza in Las Vegas. It also means that the best title tags and meta descriptions can’t save your SEO if your domain is attached to a country that you’re not based in.
If Google’s crawlers take geographical information into consideration, the 252 million domains are starting to seem a little less daunting, right? So let’s look into where the future of domains is heading: Generic Top-Level Domains or gTLDs, which can be anything from .seo to .chicago.
SEOs: be afraid, be very afraid. At this point, the effect of gTLDs on search is purely speculation. Will joeys.pizza rank higher or joeyspizza.berlin? Will the tried and true .coms rank higher than .marketings? Will domain names as a whole plummet in importance and will Google rely solely on website content to determine value? The effects are still unknown.
The report created by Verisign shows a picturesque view of the Internet. Domain registrations are increasing across the board and retention rates from renewed webpages are at a consistent 72%. The Internet is growing predictably and people are staying there. Let’s enjoy this peaceful Internet era before there are too many .domains for anyone to simply order a pizza.