TLDs, or top-level domains, are an important decision for your attorney brand. The type of TLD influences how consumers perceive you and your firm. In the past few years, just fewer than 1,000 new gTLDs (or branded TLDs) have been released for use among consumers and businesses. For the legal industry, these gTLDs include the .attorney and .lawyer marketing TLDs.
What Are Branded TLDs?
Branded TLDs have an extension that is named after an industry or profession. In the legal vertical, common branded TLDs include .attorney, .lawyer, and .legal. Branded TLDs do not help a site rank better in search; their benefits are related to marketing.
Google Says All Domains Are Created Equal
In response to a lot of questions the company received about new gTLDs, Google published a post on the topic on its Webmaster blog. John Mueller (a webmaster trends analyst at Google) did a Q&A for the post about how Google will handle new gTLDs.
The third answer in the video gives some insight as to how Google values branded domains as they relate to SEO. Even though gTLDs won’t directly impact your SEO, they can improve a consumer’s perception of your brand (which can indirectly help increase click-through rates in SERPs).
Technical Considerations of New gTLDs
Branded domains can be a good digital marketing tactic, but there are some important technical considerations before you sign up:
• Changing your domain name is always risky: Whenever you change the URLs indexed in search, you run the risk of losing rankings. Make sure you have a plan in place to redirect old URLs when you go to change your domain name.
• Directory submission sites may have trouble handling new gTLDs: Directories and other websites where you may list your site might not be set up to handle new gTLDs. For a long time, nearly every website had a .com or some other common TLD. If a directory is not set up to handle .attorney or another branded domain, you may be excluded from joining.
A Case Study on Branded Domains
We recently helped EricBrockLaw.com move to Jacksonville.attorney in an experimental effort to increase rankings. In a post detailed on Search Engine Land, ranking data on Eric Brock Law’s domain experienced an increase in traffic after the gTLD change.
This isn’t solid proof that changing the TLD caused the site to rank higher (other SEO tasks were being performed on the site). It does, however, show that a gTLD change in concert with a holistic SEO campaign can prove successful when it comes to increasing rankings.
Trust and Recognition
People already trust .com, .org, .net and other popular TLDs, and branded domains are gaining ground. Trust is a big thing online. Numerous studies on aesthetic and cognitive judgments of websites have been performed.
People are known to generate opinions of whether they trust a website very quickly (within seconds). In Google search results, where there are many choices to pick from, users may opt for domains they perceive as being heavily related to the legal industry.
Branded domains won’t (by themselves) improve your search rankings, but they can have a positive impact on your digital marketing. They also play a major role in comprehensive SEO campaigns. With any domain name change, it’s important to consult an experienced SEO company to ensure the process goes smoothly.