How New gTLDs Fare in Search Marketing [Research]

We’re all used to generic top-level domains (gTLD) like .com, .org and .net, but did you know new gTLDs are hitting the market and ICANN states that “over 1,300 new names or ‘strings’ could become available in the next few years”?

How this new wave of gTLDs will affect click-through rate and domain trust is anyone’s guess, but the folks at online marketing agency Globe Runner wanted to figure out if the new gTLDs fare better or worse than — or the same as — .coms.

The agency explored this idea by running a test on a handful of paid search campaigns. The tests consisted of AdWords campaigns where all else was equal, including the keywords bid on, the ad copy, the landing pages and so forth — the only piece that was different was the gTLD. 

The test was run against two pairs of domains:

www.3caratdiamonds.com versus www.3carat.diamonds

and

www.mattitosmenu.com versus www.mattitos.menu

On the .com versus .diamonds test, Globe Runner found that when it came to ad impressions, .diamonds was a clear winner, and even showed more clicks, but still a lower click-through rate (CTR) than .com:

diamond-v-com-results

Interestingly, the conversion rate was higher on the .diamonds gTLD – even when the landing pages and call-to-actions (CTA) were the same for both domains in the test (note that each landing page had two different CTAs). Ultimately, the .diamonds campaign cost less.

diamond-domain-test-results

On the alternative test with the .com versus .menu domain extension, the result showed more impressions for .com, but a higher CTR for .menu and lower cost per click; in fact, the .menu campaign cost less overall.

menu-domain-test-results

Once a user clicked through to the landing page, it appears that those who went to the .com version spent more time on the site than those who went to the .menu version (even though the pages were the same).

menu-domain-kpi-results

The report states that at least one of the takeaways is that the new gTLDs are able to compete well in the paid search channel:  

When using Google AdWords, the gTLD domain names are ultimately “up to par” with a .com domain name. Whether or not you choose to use a .com domain name or a new gTLD domain name, if you use Google AdWords, there’s no clear “bias” when it comes to the end users and consumer buyers.

Globe Runner Senior Strategist Bill Hartzer authored the report and echoed that statement in a quote, saying, “Based on the results of our testing, it appears that the new gTLD domain names are definitely here to stay.”

He added that there may be some benefits to using a newer gTLD domain name over a .com domain name in certain cases.

“So don’t be so quick to dismiss using a new gTLD for your website or search engine marketing efforts,” Hartzer said.

For more information on the test and to access the full report, go here. 

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