Analysis For the third time in three years, Google has reiterated its position that it will not give a search ranking advantage to domain names with new internet top-level domains.
In a post to its Webmaster Central Blog, the search engine giant has posted and answered six questions over how it handles top-level domains.
Most of the questions reiterate widely known policies, such as the fact that "country code" top-level domains like .uk or .de are used in "geo-targeting," i.e., when you are based in a specific country, domains with that country's code are given a higher ranking.
However three questions address the introduction of new dot-word domains, in particular generic words like .pizza, brand names like .microsoft, and city names like .london.
In each case, Google claims that the ending provides no inherent advantage over other domain names, although it does note that it may revisit the city names issue in time.
Haven't we been here before?
The post follows two previous posts on personal Google+ accounts by the company's leading SEO people, which themselves were both sparked by posts from people claiming an SEO advantage.
Back in April 2012, the CEO of one company running several new top-level domains claimed in Marketing magazine that the as-yet-unlaunched top-level domains were going to "shake-up search engine land" and dot-coms would "face possible relegation down the rankings."
That post led to a response from Google's webspam head Matt Cutts, who denied that any such connections would happen. "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," he wrote.
However, when internet domains with the new endings launched, a number of SEO specialists claimed to have identified advantages to having the new endings. German company Searchmetrics claimed a 1.18 position improvement in dot-berlin domains when web users were searching for information while physically located in Berlin.
Then Texas-based Total Websites said it has found Google was using a domain ending as a factor in assessing its value. It took screengrabs that appeared to show how an internet address with the ending "company" would do better than an equivalent dot-com domain if someone used the term "company" in their search.
These findings led to the domain industry writing and posting a series of articles to get the word out. With search engine ranking, especially with Google's system, such a hugely important component of traffic to websites, if new gTLD operators could claim an actual SEO benefit to their domains, it would be sure to drive business to them.
However, cold water was poured on this idea a second time by Google in December 2014, this time by its trends analyst John Mueller. "It feels like it’s time to reshare this again," Mueller noted before relinking to Cutts' earlier post from 2012, adding, "there still is no inherent ranking advantage to using the new TLDs."
It was Mueller that was the author of this latest blog post, effectively saying the same thing for a third time: there is no advantage to new internet top-level domains.