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What is the effect of the new Dot London domain on search rankings?

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As companies are tasked with finding new routes to revenue every marketing department is looking for ways of working smarter and more strategically. 

Digital marketing has been high on most people’s agenda for some time now, and strategic communications is being awarded more credibility from senior business people who are willing to invest where they’re confident there’ll be a return.

Over the last couple of years thousands of new Top Level Domains (nTLDs) have been released into the mass marketplace. 

These domains represent a valuable way of distinguishing brands from competitors using location and keywords. 

It’s true that these domains coupled with the right content, can trigger all the right signals in search algorithms and can be considered a goldmine. But to truly achieve success it’s important to consider an nTLD part of the search / content marketing tool box rather than a single, invincible line of attack.

Implementing the new top-level domains successfully

With so little written about how to implement the nTLDs successfully, it’s easy to make mistakes that could cost businesses their hard earned position in search results. One of the new top-level domains that has exploded in popularity is the Dot London domain.

Simply, the right way to use the domains is to create new content and ideally host it on its own site. This makes the decision really easy if you’re a startup but not so easy if you’re an established business that just wanted a more relevant web address. 

Choosing to build a standalone site, or even re-brand or move your present website to a Dot London domain, doesn’t have to be a scary process. There will always be a short-term impact in search rankings if you decide to change your web address but there are ways of minimising the risk. 

All you need to do is follow Google’s easy three step process for changing your address:

  • Create your new site first and set up re-directs to migrate your content over
  • Use Search Console to add and verify your new site so search engines can crawl and index the new site
  • Submit an address change via Search Console

Completing this manual process updates Google’s index, so you won’t notice a huge drop in search positions while waiting for Googlebot to crawl and index the pages. And don’t worry; it’s a very safe process because only verified page owners can use the tool.

Some brands have been using their Dot London domain to re-direct to a page on their existing website in an attempt to benefit from keyword relevancy in search, but without any solid guidance on how to do this properly. 

It’s important to understand that if you have registered a domain but are using it in this way, you won’t be benefiting from any additional SEO value. 

Worse still, if you have created a doorway page – a page that is stuffed full of keywords and created just to convince search engines that you’re relevant for a particular term – but then you drive visitors to another page on your site, this would actually be considered keyword trickery, bad practice and in most cases worthy of a Google penalty.

Jonny Ross, SEO and social media speaker and owner of Jonny Ross Consultancy is quick to back the domain, explaining: “The Dot London domain will legitimately act as a keyword in search engines but consumers need to make sure they are using it correctly.

“The domains need to link to content that is new, unique and relevant to London – ssentially you need to have the confidence and bravery to re-brand or build a new microsite. If your company or services aren’t local or don’t have a strong connection to London, this isn’t the domain for you. Algorithms are sophisticated, if you’re trying to capitalise with quick wins without investing time in your content, you’re turning your back on a significant opportunity for online growth.”

For all those who already have or are considering committing to the Dot London domain, or another gTLD, the key to success is really in combining a relevant domain with a solid investment in regular, unique, high quality and innovative content.

Simon Yeoman is UK general manager of Fasthosts Internet.

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