Aug 212013

A few days ago ICANN approved 95 new generic top-level domains (gTLDs). Among these were the first ever city-name TLDs - .hamburg and .cologne. I initially read about this in an article by Dennis Tippe (in German), which made me think seriously about the implications these TLDs could potentially have on local SEO.

It is well-known that one of the main ways for search engines to determine the relevancy of particular website to particular country is by looking at the TLD. For instance, it is relatively certain that the domain is owned by a Canadian person/business and most probably caters to Canadian audience. Here is an interesting video of what Matt Cutts says about TLDs and how they help Google understand the relevancy of the domain to particular language or region:

Here is another video answer by Matt Cutts on how Google would be treating the new TLDs:

Additionally, Google themselves have been applying for a number of TLDs and one of the main reasons (in their own words) is improving user experience.

Therefore, it is fair to think that Geo-TLDs, and specifically city-name TLDs might have major effect on a site’s rankings in future. Why in future? Because as Matt says in the second video above, Google will have to first learn how to treat these TLDs, which might take some time.

An interesting check in the current application status database of new gTLDs of ICANN shows that there are a number of other city-name TLDs pending approval, such as:

and others.

  7 Responses to “City-Name TLD and Local SEO”

Comments (7)
  1. Hi Nyagoslav,

    Thanks for the mention, but i wasn’t the author of the articel, i just put a longer comment below it and shared it afterwards…

    it will be interestig to see, if and how people will adopt these new TLDs and if/how the search rankings might be influenced.

    Me personally, i don’t like those domains…


    • Hey Sebastian,

      I updated the article. Thanks for letting me know! I think the adoption would be relatively slow after the beginning (which might be booming, especially if the .nyc or .london TLDs get approved).

  2. Great catch, gentlemen - and thanks for posting, Nyagoslav.

    I think those TLDs are just a money-grab by ICANN. My understanding has been that those TLDs cost a lot to register. Big companies will hoard them. Google will probably give a slight rankings advantage to them as a result. Cities with long or hard-to-spell names won’t even get them, I would guess. Most significantly, most people are used to .com, and I don’t think this will change that, other than to make the Web a slightly more confusing place.

    My semi-educated guess is most “local” businesses won’t have the means or desire to get a GTLD, and that they won’t really matter to local search in the long run.

    • Thanks for weighing in, Phil!

      Regarding long and “tough” names, there is already one such case within the city-name TLD applications - the one for Barcelona. The TLD they have applied for is .bcn . However, I do see your point and I am far from thinking that even in the very distant future there will be a TLD for the likes of North Attleboro, for instance ;)

      • Boy, do I hope we never get a TLD…for 126 years we’ve flip-flopped on when to use the “ugh” at the end of “North Attleborough,” which is a vestige from the Colonial days of the 1600s.

        But if we ever do get a TLD, I call first dibs :)

  3. I’ve been following this topic very closely since it was announced. I think this will have huge implications on local for 1st and 2nd level domains like restraunts.NYC , travel.Paris etc… I think we are still a long ways away from this happening as the popular city name tlds are pretty far down on the prioritization list.
    @phil, I believe it is now $200,000 for a new tld application

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