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What Domain Extensions Should be Used for Niche Websites?

What Domain Extensions Should be Used for Niche Websites?

After someone finds a great keyword with low competition, they are then faced with the task of finding a great domain name.  As I explained in my previous post about exact match domains, there are a lot of options. Of course its always best if you can get the exact match domain of your keyword and the .com is certainly preferred!  However, for most of us that don’t have money to buy premium domains or are simply not lucky enough to find keywords that have exact match domains available, we need to resort to other options.

One of those potential options is looking at alternative domain extensions; such as .info, .co, .us, etc.  I have had tremendous success with the 3 primary domain extensions of .com, .net, and .org – so I recommend using one of these if they are available.  But today I want to dig a little deeper on the domain extension discussion.

A Keyword Example

To make this point a little more realistic, I am going to pick a random keyword to give a real life example.  Lets say for example that I have decided to target the keyword “Pictures of Birds”. Now to clarify, this keyword does NOT meet my criteria – its doesn’t pay enough, and I haven’t looked at the competition, but I would suspect that its too high. So, just for a hypothetical example, lets say I want to target “Pictures of Birds”.  If you go to GoDaddy.com, you will see that the .com, .net, and .org are taken.  So, now I have the choice of getting the exact match keyword with these extensions:

  • .info
  • .us
  • .co
  • .ca
  • .biz
  • .tv

Or, I can just add a prefix or a suffix and get a .com.  So, what do I do?  What would you do?

I Stick with the .Com, .Net, and .Org

Well, for all of my niche websites I only register a .com, .net, or .org.  I never register any other domain extensions, even if the exact match is available in .info, .co, .us, etc.  Why do I do that?  Well, I don’t have any solid evidence that shows that other domains extensions don’t work, this is just what I have always done.  I have built a couple of niche websites with a .info, but they didn’t do very well – but I can’t definitely pin this down on the domain name.  So, my advice is that you can certainly experiment with other domain extensions if you would like to – they might be just fine!

However, for me personally, I have found success sticking with the .com, .net, and .org – so I don’t plan on changing that.  So, in this example I would simply add a suffix or prefix and go with that.  Perhaps I would buy the domain “bestpicturesofbirds.com” or “picturesofbirdsgallery.com” or something similar.  I want to keep the keyword density in the domain high, but it doesn’t always have to be the exact match.

What About Dashes?

The final question that comes up with domain names is whether or not to use dashes ( – ).  So, in this case pictures-of-birds.com.  I don’t do this.  I have tried a couple of times with dashes, but never had great results.  But again, I can’t pin the failure of those couple of niche sites on the dashes in the domain – it could have been other factors.  So, please feel free to do your own testing to see if dashes in the domains works for you.  It might work fine!  However, for me I have found a formula that works, so I am sticking with it.  And that formula does not include using dashes in the domain.  But who knows, maybe I a missing out here.

So, that in a nutshell is my experience and recommendations with alternative domain extensions.  I would prefer registering the domain “picturesofbirdsgallery.com” over “picturesofbirdsgallery.us” – even though the .us extension is an exact match domain.  Call me crazy, but that’s just what I do.

Your Thoughts?

So, what are your thoughts on the subject?  How do you feel about my recommendation to not try domain extensions outside of the .com, .net, and .org?  If you have any experiences that you would like to share in regards to this subject, I would love to hear them!

45 Comments for this Post

  1. Niche Websites Hub | Niche Pursuits

    Niche Websites Hub | Niche Pursuits

    […] What Domain Extensions Should be Used for Niche Websites? (Posted June 29th, 2011) […]

  2. Justin | AdSense Flippers

    Justin | AdSense Flippers

    Hey Spencer,

    Kind of a wishy-washy post!…but your point is well taken…exact match com/net/org is what you mostly do and it’s been effective. We’ve found the same exact thing.

    We’ve tested .info’s and dashes. We’ve had sites that were successful, even. But, when we look across the board at all of our attempts, we found them to under-perform overall. in the example you listed above, here’s what we’d do: Start with another root keyword and try again!

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Yep, I guess I leave a few decisions up in the air! I just stick with what works for me, but never rule out what might work for other people. I agree, I would go for a different keyword as well… :)

  3. Kristi Hines

    Kristi Hines

    I have only tried one .info domain, but since the competition was relatively low, it only took about a year and now that domain is #1 for it’s keyword, in my area at least. Just Google dofollow. :)

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      That’s awesome Kristi! Great example of a .info working out well!

  4. Muzi Mohale

    Muzi Mohale

    Being based in South Africa, I’m finding it easy to target my country tld .co.za when opting for exact keyword domains. Normally within a few months I’m able to hit the front page of google search results. Am currently busy testing exact keywords with dashes and will see the kind of results the deliver…

  5. Kenny @ SiteBurbia.com

    Kenny @ SiteBurbia.com

    I’ve always stuck with .com .net or .org’s and have always had success in ranking them. Of course, if the keyword research isn’t done right, doesn’t always make for a profit. I have a site now that is ranked for 2 keywords on the front page, without an exact match, gets over 3000 unique visits a month… makes absolutely no money. Your keyword research posts (and those of Adsense Flippers) have really helped me pick profitable keywords, so, thanks for that!

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      3000 visitors and no money? Sorry to hear that! But I’m glad that perhaps some of what I have shared here can help you make better keyword choices in the future…best of luck!

      • Kenny @ SiteBurbia.com

        Kenny @ SiteBurbia.com

        I know right? I was certain I’d be getting all sorts of money. It’s a movie keyword. I’ve tried Adsense, affilliate programs… I even added an optin from with Aweber. Nada. Just lots of traffic and a really high bounce rate!

        • Spencer

          Spencer

          Bummer. Time to move on to the next one then :(

  6. Victor

    Victor

    My experience with the dashes has also been poor. Although my experience with other extensions have been great, but only in the right circumstances.

    For example, using a .ca domain is a Canadian extension and I have noticed that if targeting a Canadian specific demographic it is best to use that extension. But where it really made a difference for me was when I paired the .ca extension with Canadian located hosting. The jump was almost overnight and the site received PR appreciation monthly until capping at PR4.

    I cant speak for .us or .co.uk but I can say that .com in Canadian SERP are still the heavy weights, and .ca is only the heavy weight in the instance that it is extremely targeted to the Canadian audience. EX: Canadian real estate

    Great post Spencer :)

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Great example! Thanks for sharing, I think this is especially relevant for those in other countries wondering how to target their local visitor…thanks!

      • andres

        andres

        Good sharing Victor.

        I do some test. After find a good keyword (and targeted UK or Australia) I open and do some search in google.co.uk and google.com.au. Mostly, 10 pages are coming from local domain co.uk or com.au. Another result also found when I search on google.com.sg (singapore), more pages are coming from singapore.

    • Greg

      Greg

      It’s fascinating that a hosting service based in the country had an impact.

  7. aldo

    aldo

    The 3 best are the .com. net and .org , but .info still rank if you build a bigger site and also with more backlinks.

    For example search on google for :

    blackfriday

    You will notice that the site is an Top 2 (USA Search) is blackfriday.info but behind it is blackfriday.com . There we have a good example that both rank well on google but .info will need more effort to be ranked higher.

    Also i have good feeling about the .co domain , i think it could rank higher on Global but to make it sure i have to test it.

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Great example Aldo…thanks for sharing!

  8. Piotr

    Piotr

    Hey Spencer,

    Thanks for all the cool info you’re sharing!

    I have a question: I want to register a domain and the exact keyword is taken; however, there is a grammar mistake in it like in the example: mengadgets.com. Let’s suppose that mensgadgets.com is free but the google keyword tool says it has 0 searches per month wheras the first one has 1600. Is it ok to register the second one but target the first keyword or is it better to go for something like mengadgetstoday.com?

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Go with the version that matches your keyword exactly. So if you are targeting “men gadgets” go with mengadgetstoday.com

  9. Jay Dee

    Jay Dee

    Hey Spencer,
    I also share your preference of no ‘Dashes’ or ‘non .com, .net or .org’ domains.
    Having said that, at least 30% of my domains DO have Dashes in them. In fact, my #1 niche has Dashes in it, and outranks it’s exact competitor (ie. the matching domain without the dashes). It’s clear though, that reason I outrank my competitor in this instance is purely because my superior content.

    Cheers,
    Jay

    • aldo

      aldo

      Jay Dee , Content is King for Google

      If you mix good content with Backlinks “Game Over For the Competitors”

      I fact Its all about Content because the best Backlinks are does with unique content and high PR

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Great point. I agree that simply having a dash in your domain doesn’t make it a loser – there are just a ton of other factors that matter as you have shown here.

  10. Ritsos

    Ritsos

    I’ve noticed using MS that also using the exact keyword in the extension seems to help eg fredbloggs.com/mens_gadgets.html or whatever.

    On another note .. content farms like hubpages got hit but one of my sites doesn’t cover a single niche and I use it for random articles that I don’t feel I can spin a site out of .. think that will be viewed as a content farm if it’s just me posting?

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Its possible that it could be viewed as a content farm or sorts. Although I doubt you have enough articles to trigger the penalty like it did for Hubpages. Although, in my opinion a site focused on a theme/niche will always do better than random articles.

  11. Ritsos

    Ritsos

    thanks … have done 3 niche sites so far with no success .. still, it’s a learning curve and I’m sure I’ll get there in the end

    • aldo

      aldo

      Just dont quit, keep pushing and learning.

  12. Ritsos

    Ritsos

    yep .. got a couple more to do and if they don’t pan out, I think I’ll try one with around 500 monthly local searches .. something a bit easier to get ranked for .. might boost morale if not my bank account ;-)

  13. Duane

    Duane

    Thanks for a ton of great info, Spencer! So just to be clear, you would still use a keyword as a .com that requires 3-5 additional letters over a .info?

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Yes. That’s how I do it, others may do it differently though.

  14. Ritsos

    Ritsos

    I’m amazed at the number of top level domains I’ve tried to buy that aren’t being used :(

    • Victor

      Victor

      Iv come across the same thing, if you are referring to all the parked domains that is.

      This is precisely why prefixes and suffixes can be our best friends :)

  15. hajro

    hajro

    I have .US domain , it’s mainly targeted to United States peoples , I have a really good results there , so don’t worry you can use it too .. sorry for grammar mistakes ;)

  16. Ritsos

    Ritsos

    just a note here .. while researching a keyword (which I think I’m going to go with). The keyword.com site is on page 2 of google.com and it’s a holding page that simply says

    Coming Soon. For more information, visit (keyword here). Thank you for your patience.

    this word gets around 15000 local US searches and around $4 cpc ..

    This would indicate the worth of a .com domain methinks

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Possibly, or just the fact that its probably a somewhat low competition niche. Usually if I see a parked domain ranking well, its a sign that the niche is less competitive.

  17. Ritsos

    Ritsos

    true .. though I’m increasingly coming to the conclusion that an exact match domain name gives you a BIG bump up the rankings. I’ve just done an exact match .org.uk domain site (aimed at the UK market of course). There were no 0 rank domains in the top ten though there were a few directories and medium to low link backs to the pages. Normally I wouldn’t go for this but as there was an exact match domain and the other ones were parked pages I thought it would be a good one to experiment with as it’ was also a high cpc … Will be interesting to see how it pans out and will let you know

  18. Ritsos

    Ritsos

    found this through some other work I do

    http://www.tldh.org

    Looks like they are dedicated to buying up all top level domains .. wonder if they hold a lot of those parked domains for .coms etc … I’m amazed how many are aquired but not built !!

  19. Aaron

    Aaron

    Hey Spencer I listen to music often and have always been pretty good with keeping up with new artists, so I found a keyword (a music artist) who has no competition yet has over a million searches locally, should I go for it or is that going to be a short lived result?

    • Aaron

      Aaron

      correction thats over 800,000 locally but still pretty good!

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Aaron:
      Might be worth a shot! Could indeed be short lived, but its hard to say as popularity can rise or wane quickly. I’ve never targeted a keyword like that, so its hard to say if it would be profitable. My guess is that there is not many advertisers for keywords like this.

  20. Baby Freebies

    Baby Freebies

    I just purchased a high value, low competition domain that has the exact match keywords. Problem is that it’s a .us domain extension. I think I’m going to do a little test and put it up against a .com that also contains the keywords plus a filler. If either one of them work out I’m looking at some big bucks.

  21. Dan

    Dan

    What about international domain extensions? I’d google says that there are 100k searches for a term but the .com extension is taken, would it be best to buy the domain with an international extension? For example foriegn language terms would go well with international domain ext. anybody have experience with this???

    Thanks!

  22. Sonia

    Sonia

    I respect your personal experience but I am totally disagree with you spencer that .info domain can’t be ranked higher or it needs more effort than .com/net/org. it is top gtld. and I have so any experiences with .info domains and even with .biz domain example search “seo company” and .biz domain in top5.

  23. Sarah

    Sarah

    I see a lot of hyphenated domains of .info and .biz on page one for my category.

    .Biz domains were purged, like .info, by Google. But, now they are not penalizing them. It is the same as with the .co domains. Google said they would treat the .co the same as a .com. I bought several of them and they would not rank for anything. After a year, magically they popped up.

    Of course, all the domainers had let their .co domains drop by then. I think that was Google’s plan all along.

    The problem with the .co domains is they are so expensive to renew. $25 a year or so. But, it is worth it to rank pretty easily. It saves that much time backlinking.

  24. link exchange directory still up and running

    link exchange directory still up and running

    Well you are right! Even in the post penguin era, your strategy proves to be very accurare. I was searching for reasons why a .net exact match domain has stepped over my exact-dashed .es domain in just weeks from registration! Now I know why tanks to your article. The .net has 2 phrases in total, aged 20 nov 2012, 0 backlinks, #3 in google. My domain has 4 months, lots of contents, 30 backlinks, page #5 :-(. So I think I will follow your advise.

  25. Jeff

    Jeff

    It will be interesting to see how all of these new extensions play out that are coming available soon, from a niche site perspective.

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