NEW YORK – I’ll have an interesting new gTLD case study coming in the next few days to a week or so. It’s going to be great, because I think it’s going to work. I think the position of the website in Google is going to improve greatly by doing nothing else but changing the URL to a new keyword rich gTLD. If I’m wrong I will have wasted another $150 on gTLDs, but either way I will learn and so will you.
Now if you follow my updates you will be aware that I am usually more of a bashing-type of domainer when it comes to new gTLDs because I feel they are confusing to average Internet users compounding onto other negatives I’ve found, so if this change does not help the website, you can rest assured that I am going to tell you just that; it did nothing to improve the sites positioning in search.
But if it does help the site move to the top of the results, you can trust that I am also going to tell you the truth about that too, because also, if you read my updates you’ll know that good or bad, positive or negative, I’m going to let you have it, and from what I’ve heard, most people who read this site appreciate that straight talk very much, so I eagerly await these results, not only for my own curiosity, but to share the details which are only a week or so away, tops.
What’s best of all, is that this case study is going to take me very little time and effort to produce, because I am going to do nothing as far as work. In fact, all the work is already done. It’ll take some time, but very little effort as I’m not changing the site at all. I’m not changing the meta tags and not even updating any links to the site.
I’m simply changing the URL of the website to a keyword rich URL and keyword rich gTLD which two thirds of the keywords are in the URL itself to the left, and the remaining keyword is in the extension, to the right.
That’s it. Nothing else will change. It took me all of 5 minuets to change the site. I simply downloaded the site, set up the new URL and hosting account, change the URL in all of the source code, uploaded the site, and implemented a 301 redirect from the old site to the new one.
I’m now waiting a few days to a week or so for Google to recognize the name change and start using it in its search engine to list the sites address and watch to see if it re-positions it in the SERPS based on the keywords in the URL and keyword in the extension. And I’ve already got my nifty little screen-shot of the site on Page 7 ready to be compared with wherever the site winds up moving.
I’ll give you the good, the bad, or the ugly in a week or so when the dust settles. I’m going to let it all happen naturally; no changes in webmaster tools, no new links, nothing. I have a feeling it is going to work and that the site will rank better but I can surely be wrong…..
Here is a little bit about the website I am using:
- The website used to rank very well for the term but has not been marketed in years.
- It’s been online as-is since at least 2009 and was originally put online in 2001 with a different address.
- It’s a legitimate business in New York and has very few natural back-links with no funny business.
- The site is only updated when the client makes a specific request which is every couple of years.
- There should be nothing else to get in the way of this test as the URL is the only thing changing.
- Best of all, this will not be sponsored, supported or in anyway influenced by any registry.
UPDATE 3/29/2018 – For those looking for updates on this, today is the third day of this test and it will likely take about two more weeks. So far, day three, Google is aware of the new address as it is displaying the new address for the homepage in search results, but not the internal pages (too weak and too new still). The site seems a bit weaker then I thought as the rankings have gotten worse, but this is too soon to judge anything at all because Google is still indexing the majority of the site with the old address and this has clearly not come full circle as of yet. In fact, what I see appears to me as Google is uncomfortable and unsure if this change is really permanent as of now and more dust needs to settle. There is no webmaster tools account for this site so Google has no other insight on what is happening other then relying on the 301, which is still extremely new. Hopefully a change in Webmaster tools will not become required for this to work properly and how I would expect. The site, which will be provided when the test concludes, used to rank very well long ago in the old Google, and now as the term has become majorly commercialized, it does not rank well anymore and is dominated by most major player and heavy hitter marketers, but I am expecting this change to increase the rankings of the site, but as of today, it has made it worse (went from page 7 to somewhere beyond page 10), but at this point, it’s just way too soon to even attempt to reflect on it or figure it out in anyway. This is what I would call natural flux while Google examines the change and continues to visit and then revisit the site to see if the URL change is reliable, permanent. This is probably going to take a little longer then it would if I did use Webmaster Tools, but if I do not get the desired results I might have to include that process other wise the results will never be accepted, but I do feel it should work without it, from a non-SEO motivated basis (just naturally).
UPDATE 4/04/2018 – Today is the ninth day of this test and interesting things are beginning to happen. Although I am a bit let down by the amount of time this is taking for Google and Bing, I’m pleased to report that this test seems to be working, but only on the Yahoo search engine (the weakest deliverer of web traffic). On Google and Bing the site has vanished (unless actual business name is searched), way beyond page 10 and even page 20 (Before the start of this test it was sitting on page 7 for Google and miraculously the same for Bing – rarely do they match that closely). BUT, on Yahoo, the site is on page 3 (and I feel confident it was not there before because it is a highly competitive term – I’ve only began checking Yahoo out of boredom I had not checked it previously due to how little traffic Yahoo delivers. This test is primarily for Google with Bing as a secondary target and benefit), it is likely to move closer in the coming days, potentially to page 1. What is discouraging, is that the site has vanished on Google and Bing and I now feel even more confident that if I were to have used the Bing and Google webmaster tools panel (pathetic Yahoo does not have a panel of its own), this would be moving along faster in both of those search engines, but I strongly feel that doing so would interfere with the very nature of this test. I specifically do not want any outside influence in any way or in any “Quote Un-Quote” ‘SEO’ capacity. For the most part, the only people who use those panels are SEO people or people interested in rankings, and I specifically want to see this happen on its own without any other changes, so I will have to accept that it will take longer. Even a tweet of the URL, or a link of any kind could probably speed this up, but I do not want that (and it is indeed very tempting). Yet I want to see this happen without any other changes but the URL change, so the htaccess 301 redirect will have to do by itself, but there is some activity, in very small part, it is working and I will need to be more patient. I do not see this test lasting longer then 30 days and the reason I have not yet revealed the URL is that by not doing so, there is no way for anyone to interfere with the test. So as a final wrap up, day nine, Yahoo rankings looking good, Google and Bing looking terrible, URL beginning to show stably in search results, but still not all the internal pages. It is only a 5 page site, so it’s half way there. We’re waiting for it to not show the old URL at all anymore, and for the site to reappear on Google and Bing.
This is a big test because if it works it could represent the easiest and cheapest way to increase your website rankings. However, if it does not work, all other case studies could be nonsense and/or they were influenced by other factors not disclosed, either positively or negatively, accidental, or purposefully.
UPDATE 4/08/2017 – I’m adding this for clarification as some numskull thinks I’m doing to the test wrong. Just for the record, I’ve done this a thousand times. Usually I use the webmaster tools change of address tool (in addition to the 301). This time, I didn’t use it (purposely) as I want to see how Google honors the rankings of the new address without it – I can always add it later. At this time, thirteen days into the test, the web site ranks perfectly for its new changed URL or the name of the individual the entire site is about (ranks #1 with map and info box to the right). However, Google has changed how it is treating it for where the site ranked for its commercial keyword phrase/term (the money term, the one that now matches the URL for that ‘so-called’ added “right of the dot benefit”, the term has two words on the left and one word – right of the dot, a ‘three word money term’ – the key-phrase people are fighting for – (the term which reflects where this old, rarely changed site was sitting – on the seventh page of Google before I implanted this test). This is what the test it all about. No manipulation. No key changes, No new links. Just a rankings benefit if there even is one, by having this added URL in place. The site pops up beautifully for the attorneys name, with the new web address and all (in other words, the 301 redirect process was a technical success). Now the rankings for the specific keyword benefit by the added gTLD dot, is what is specifically being measured, not the URL address change – as that has completed properly.
UPDATE 4/16/2017 – Today, I am going to add the addition of using the change of address option in Bing and Google’s webmaster tools panels. While Bing has worked enough to the point where I would consider this a success (site is now on Page 3) Google has not worked at all and for some reason it just seems that for the commercial term I am looking for, this has done nothing but make the site vanish, so I am going to cave to the Google God and entire the old URL into the webmaster tools panel, verify it, and then use the change URL options and verify the new URL to let Google know both addresses are under my control and that the site has moved and hopefully, if it is waiting to truly transfer the little bit of link popularity the site has, to the new URL, it can now do that. The test has not worked as well as I thought it would, so now I will add this [webmaster tools] to the mix and the only other thing would be to start finding links on the web that are pointing at the old address and update them to the new one as at this time, the new URL would have no links of its own. Beyond adding some new links to freshen things up, waiting for all of this to happen on its own has not been a good or quick strategy.
An owner of the Search Console property ……………com has requested a site address change to ……………lawyer. This helps Google to index your new URLs at the new address, while minimizing impact to your current ranking in Google Search results. Additionally, all Google search results for your site will now be redirected to the new domain automatically for 180 days. You must still update any resources in your site such as tags or headers that refer to the old domain.
UPDATE 4/21/2017 – I have to admit, as this starts to work, it becomes a very exciting test to carry out. Well, if you have been following this test hoping that nGTLDs will help you move to the top in search engines, you’re going to love what I am about to tell you. They do! Now that I have used the webmaster tools panels, Bing.com and Yahoo.com now rank the site #5 on desktop AND mobile searches, smack in the middle of the first page of results (SERPS). This is a ‘really’ ‘good’ ‘position’ as the term is highly sought after, and the site, for the most part, is crap. It’s only 5 pages of basic information about the firm and it needs to be made mobile friendly – and – it really should have an SSL installed, which it doesn’t, so for it to be ranking on the first page of both mobile and desktop searches at #5 is fantastic. These rankings have now stuck since yesterday, 24 hours, and if this sticks, plenty worth the effort.
A new gTLD, if keyword rich on the left and the right of the dot, will indeed help you rank better in both Yahoo.com and Bing.com – doing nothing else but changing the URL. In fact, from what I can see, as expected, it can move you right to the first page of results.
I’m feeling really good about this; very clear, its the only thing I changed; the URL. I didn’t even update any of the links the site already has on other sites, I just left them pointing to the old URL, and to me, the most significant changes took place after verifying the old site, in Webmaster Tools, and using the change of address tool. It seems to me that using a 301 redirect only will get you a portion of your old back-link profile, but using the change of address tool, improves this, or provides a more reliable and higher percentage of back-link credit, maybe even all of the back-link credit. This test worked on these two search engines. The site is #5 on the first page for Yahoo and Bing, and it was on page 7 (practically nowhere to be found – no one chooses listing 75).
Google on the other hand is not working as expected and I don’t have a good reason for why as of yet. However, everyone knows that Google in an entirely different game, and there is likely a lot more analysis involved, especially for commercially sought-after terms. The site is appearing great if searching for the URL or the lawyers name, but that commercial term I wanted, the one way back on page 7, it’s completely gone. Vanished, Disappeared; still beyond page 20 if it even appears at all. I did not expect this. I figured after changing the URL worst case senario it would return to about the same place it was before, or maybe a page or two closer, but Google’s spitting it out completely for some reason. Odd reaction this far. Yet, I have seen other scenarios where sites you would expect to appear just don’t for some unknown reason, so I am not ready to write off Google potential yet. The URL changing by itself may not be enough for Google.
Google results: Still pending….
About The Author: John Colascione is CEO of Long Island Media Inc., an Internet ad agency and publisher of the largest group of Long Island New York based websites and one print newspaper collectively reaching over one million people per month. He specializes in Website Monetization, authored a ‘how to’ book called ‘‘Mastering Your Website’, and is a key player in several Internet related businesses through his holding company Searchen Networks®