.COM Versus New gTLD Domain Names: 8 Months Later

Back in September 2014, we released the results of a search engine marketing study that we did to find out which are better for online marketing: a .COM domain name or a New gTLD domain name. The results revealed a lot of interesting data, which really caused us to want to look into the use of keyword rich New gTLD domain names for landing pages, micro-sites, and for fully developed websites. Those results from our Google AdWords testing, which we disclosed in our last white paper, showed us that:

– A .COM outperformed a .Diamonds domain name in certain key areas. However, in other key areas, the .Diamonds domain name performed much better.

– It cost less per click for a .Diamonds domain than to run the same keywords on a .COM domain name, and the total campaign cost was lower.

– Google AdWords appeared to favor use of the .Diamonds domain name, giving it more impressions and even better positioning. The average position for the .Diamonds domain name was better then the .COM domain name.

– Based on the Effective CPM, it cost nearly twice as much to advertise a .COM domain name than it did a .DIAMONDS domain name.

We compiled all of the data, even the keywords, bid prices, CTR, number of clicks, and even the number of conversions we got into an extensive 27 page white paper, which you can download here on this page. But we weren’t done. Several months later, we wanted to know if anything had changed after about 7 months. So, during January 2015, we run the tests all over again.

What Changed After 8 Months?

We ran the previous Google AdWords campaigns again, using the same keywords, the same ad copy, the same domain names, and even the same landing pages. Again, the only difference between the campaigns was the domain name. We focused our testing efforts this time on refreshing the previous test, which was www.3CaratDiamonds.com versus www.3Carat.Diamonds. And boy did we get some interesting data this time. Here’s a quick outline of what we learned from our updated testing:

The first testing was done in May 2014. The 2nd testing was done in January 2015.

January 2015 Results:
Average CPC
3Carat.Diamonds: $.69 (vs. $.77 in May 2014)
3CaratDiamonds.com: $.82 (vs. $.81 in May 2014)

31.76% Conversion Rate on .COM, 29.11% on .Diamonds
Previously: 52% Conversion Rate on .COM, 36% on .Diamonds
New gTLD converting just as well now as the .COM
Effective CPM: Still costs 2x as much to advertise a .COM

What we learned from running our testing again is that the price to run ads using Google AdWords on a .diamonds domain name went down. It got cheaper. But to run ads on the .COM domain name, the price virtually stayed the same (within one cent per click). But what’s even more significant is the fact that the conversion rate on the .COM domain name got worse–it went down. And now, the conversion rate of the .COM is very close to what the conversion rate on the .diamonds is–there’s only a 2 percent difference between the two. Back in May 2014 the .COM converted a lot better. But that’s not the case anymore. The New gTLD domain name is converting the same as a comparable .COM domain name.

We analyzed what has happened to the conversions between the first testing we did in May 2014 and the second round of testing we did in January 2015. The graphic below shows the changes:

450w-com-vs-gtld-8-months-later-conversions copy

As you can see, we are seeing a significant change to the .COM domain, as the downloads of the PDF file and the total conversions are way down for the .COM domain, and the .Diamonds domain’s downloads of the PDF file are actually UP since the last time we run these tests. The total conversions of the .Diamonds domain was down, but not as much as the .COM domain name. We’re definitely seeing changes here.

Conclusion: .COM Versus New gTLD Domain Names

So, which would you rather use for a Google AdWords campaign? A .COM domain name that costs more, or use a New gTLD domain name that costs less to use, and converts just as well as a .COM domain name?

Don’t just take our word for it. We’ve updated all of the test results, and, like in our previous white paper, we want to be totally transparent: we’ve published all of the results and included the data we gathered from the updated Google AdWords campaign in a new, updated white paper.

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