Domains vs. pay per click: Do new TLDs work?

As a registry, we’re often asked how new TLDs affect SEO. Google itself has stated that sites using generic top-level domains receive no inherent disadvantage in their search rankings’ algorithm. At the same time, we’ve been more than happy to point to Jacksonville.Attorney—a site which has reached the top of Google’s search results—as a great success story for nTLDs.

To get a better idea of what was behind Jacksonville.Attorney’s results, Rightside sponsored a report from Globe Runner, a respected SEO consulting firm, to look deeper at the TLD’s actual effect. What they found was good news for nTLDs: The domain extension likely contributed to Jacksonville.Attorney’s high search ranking.

This is a major finding in the ever-shifting world of SEO. With competition in both organic and Pay Per Click (PPC) search results growing fierce, the costs associated with marketing a website are rising rapidly, particularly in the legal industry. A recent study found that 78 of the 100 most expensive Google keyword phrases were related to legal services. In some locations, the bidding for paid search results has soared into the hundreds of dollars per click.

Businesses and the marketers that work with them shouldn’t be discouraged by these costs. Instead, they should look to get creative with their online marketing. In March of 2015, attorney Eric Block did exactly that by forgoing the PPC-heavy approach of his competitors. Instead, he made a move from EricBlockLaw.com, to his current Jacksonville.Attorney domain. Within months, Eric was seeing huge gains in traffic and search rankings.

The relaunched website under a .ATTORNEY domain name
The relaunched website at Jacksonville.Attorney

Today, Eric’s site ranks as high as the first overall search result for keywords like “Jacksonville attorney.” Eric himself was very pleased with the turnaround: “It’s helping us build brand awareness, increase traffic, and make it easier for customers past, present and future to find us online.”

Globe Runner estimates that since the switch, Jacksonville.Attorney is generating the free, organic equivalent of $6,400 per month in paid traffic on 333 Google keyword phrases. Just look at the dramatic difference in search result traffic to Eric’s websites before and after the March 2015 rebranding.

Bar graph of the traffic to Eric's site before and after the domain rebranding
Before and after the launch of Jacksonville.Attorney (March 2015)

Not every business is going to see the cost per click rates that the legal industry does, but that doesn’t necessarily make search engine marketing the most effective option. The main takeaway for companies of any kind is to work smarter, not harder. Many may find that an innovative domain strategy can get the same results as a PPC campaign without the massive monthly spends.

Globe Runner’s full report makes the best case yet for domains’ positive impact on SEO. To see all of the Jacksonville.Attorney data and results for yourself, download the case study below.

Download the SEO Case Study for Free

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