Search Marketing Study: How New gTLDs are Beating .COM

Since May 2014, Globe Runner has been actively researching and studying the Search Engine Marketing (PPC) effects that the New gTLD domain name extensions are having on the industry. The results of our first initial deep dive into real-world data was released back in September 2014. We then provided an update 8 months later. Originally, the .COM beat out a new gTLD domain name when it came to quality traffic: but .COM traffic was more expensive. However, one year and four months later, the tide has changed.

New gTLDs convert much higher than .COM. Conversions on .COM continue to deteriorate.

Back in May 2014, we found that domains of new extensions were converting at about 34 percent, and .COMs were converting at about 52 percent. It cost more to advertise using a .COM than a new domain extension. However, over a year and a half later, that has all changed. New domain extensions are converting at about the same rate–but .COM domains are converting now at a record low, of nearly 20 percent. It still costs more to advertise using a .COM domain name than using a new domain extension. Here are some quick stats from our updated research:

Results: Average CPC
3Carat.Diamonds: $.77 Sept. 2015 vs $.69 in Jan 2015 vs. $.77 in May 2014 $.83 Sept 2015 vs $.82 (vs. $.81 in May 2014)

23% Conversion Rate on .COM, 35% on .Diamonds in September 2015.
Previously, January 2015: 31.76% Conversion Rate on .COM, 29.11% on .Diamonds
Previously, May 2014: 52% Conversion Rate on .COM, 36% on .Diamonds

New gTLDs convert much higher than .COM. Conversions on .COM continue to deteriorate.

domain name conversion rate

According to our re-running of the testing during January 2015, the conversion rate of the .COM was very close to what the conversion rate on the .diamonds was–only a 2 percent difference between the two. Back in May 2014 the .COM converted a lot better. But that wasn’t the case in January 2015. The New gTLD domain name was converting the same as a comparable .COM domain name.

In September 2015, however, the conversion rate of the .COM has continued to go down. It’s now at an all-time low. Yet the conversion rate on the .Diamonds domain name has remained about the same (it’s actually up 2 percent over May 2014’s data).

Our overall goal when setting up these tests was ultimately to determine whether using a .Com domain name or a new gTLD domain name is better when it comes to search engine marketing and Google AdWords. Back in January 2015 we were not totally convinced that one is necessarily “better” than the other. However, our view of this, after over a year and a half of looking at the data and running test, we have changed our tune.

Ultimately, if we had to decide whether to use a New gTLD domain name extension or a .COM domain name for our Google AdWords campaigns, we would choose to use a New gTLD domain. The prices for clicks (CPC) haven’t changed much over time. They remain fairly consistent. However, it appears that the overall relevance for the .Diamonds TLD has gotten better: we’re seeing a better Average Position than what we did back in May 2014: an 18 percent increase! This could be because Google has ‘tweaked’ something in the back-end that makes .Diamonds domains more relevant because the keyword is in the domain name extension, but we can only speculate.

Globe Runner’s goal is to be totally transparent with the results our Search Engine Marketing research, so we have included all of the data, as well as our detailed analysis, in a white paper. Use the form below to download the latest results of our testing.

Comments 5

  1. Thanks for this post on new gTLDs, Bill. Many marketers are tracking this issue. While this is an interesting comparison between one new gTLD string and a comparable .com domain name, there have been multiple other search engine ranking studies by Searchmetrics and Interbrand that show .com generally beats new gTLDs in search results.

    Disclosure: I work for Weber Shandwick, the PR firm for Verisign.

    1. Post

      Deepthi, thanks for your comment. Let me remind you that this has been an SEM study that we have been doing for the past 16 months, not an SEO or “search engine rankings” study.

      Our SEO study will be coming out soon.

  2. Interesting post and comments. Just downloaded the WP for review. I have also read some preliminary opinions and Google’s position that they won’t treat the new gTLD’s any differently. We are in discussions with a client that was granted a .bank TLD and concerned about making the switch. If you’ve read Verisign’s tome on the subject, it’s a basic marketing primer- virtually nothing on the strategy of when or how to switch or what the expected effect might be. Once we decided which variant to implement for brand reasons, the recommendation was to get it live now as a landing page/redirect to trudge through the “new listing” period, and launch their new web site next year using the new domain. We’ll see.

    Of course, to qualify for .bank, you have to be one, and prove it. It’s probably not like that for .diamonds- we did nothing to secure .agency, for instance. But I can’t help but think that domains that require a qualification and vetting process to secure would eventually be associated with greater relevance and credibility on the web, and therefore should eventually come out on top in natural search. And SEM works better with sites that do well in natural search. It’s not scientific, but your findings make sense. Now I’ll go read the paper.

    1. Post

      Hi Bill,
      From an SEO perspective, I personally think that .bank may be different than the other TLDs since it’s a closed TLD (only banks can get approved). That said, the search engines will need to decide if and when they give .bank domains any bias, just as we’ve historically seen with .gov and .edu sites.

      I wouldn’t worry too much about moving to a new domain (even if it’s a .bank), websites have been moving to new domain names for years now without any major problems. As long as the migration is done properly, there shouldn’t be any issues at all. It’s when sites have duplicates (mirrors) of their site and when they don’t set up the redirects properly that causes issues.

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