Monday, 21 December 2015: For many businesses pondering the switch from a .com to a domain name under a new Top-Level Domain (TLD), one of the common barriers is the fear of losing or damaging the search ranking of their existing website.

In the past, Google has been notoriously tight-lipped about the search performance of new TLDs, stating only that they will “not be treated any differently” than legacy TLDs such as .com and .net. This is despite independent research that has demonstrated some search benefits of new extensions and reports from businesses which have seen an increase in customers because of their new domain name.

In a recent blog post however, the search giant’s tone has shifted as it details the benefits of new TLDs and suggests the example of www.coffee.club as an illustration of how “domain names with new endings are shown in search just like any other domain name.”

When searching for the term ‘coffee club’ in the US, the website www.coffee.club ranks highly, despite the fact that the phrase ‘coffee club’ does not feature on the website. The phrase ‘coffee.club’ does appear however, which prompted European Domain Centre to report that “Google reads coffee.club as coffee club.”

The Google blog references this website in the blog, and in addressing the common question; “If I move my website to a new domain name ending, will my customers still be able to find my site on Google?” the blog’s response is “Yes, of course!”

Google also provides four steps for ensuring your new TLD website address can be easily found and indexed by the search engine, such as conducting thorough testing on the new site and setting up redirects from old URLs to new ones.

Some of the advantages of new TLDs listed in the Google blog include brand identity, brand protection and promotions, explaining that “new domain name endings like .photography and .accountant help businesses tell the world who they are and what they do.”

This latest advice from Google follows comments from the search giant’s Chief Information Officer, Ben Fried, when he presented on new TLDs at the Google I/O conference in June 2014. He said:

“At Google we pride ourselves on helping people find things on the Internet and making search work. We’re really committed to making sure Google search works fantastically well across the whole 1400 new Top-Level Domains that are going to come out…”

“I think we’re all going to see how this plays out as these domains get adopted and used. Google search isn’t about favouring one Top-Level Domain over the other. It’s about allowing people to find things on the Internet. We hope that the new Top-Level Domains makes those things more memorable, makes then more meaningful, gives people better naming choices. But we don’t intend to have that have a negative effect on search ability…”

If you’re an education or training business looking to target your audience and ensure customers can easily find you online, Google’s latest information shows that a highly relevant domain name with a .courses extension won’t cause any damage to search rankings and provides some significant brand benefits.

Image: ‘Our Mountain View, Calif. Headquarters’, via News from Google: Images and B-roll