Should You Use a gTLD Domain Name for Your Website? A Study into .CARS
Since the beginning of the internet, Americans have primarily used three main Top Level Domains (TLDs) for our websites: .COM, .NET, and .ORG. There are other TLDs that have been introduced that we’re all familiar with, such as .EDU and .GOV.
Understanding Top Level Domains
It’s been fairly easy for us to register .COM, .NET, and .ORG domain names, but you have to be associated with an educational institution or a government entity to secure a .EDU or a .GOV domain name. And then there’s the others that have been available for quite some time now, such as .INFO, .BIZ, and .TV. But still, most consumers in the USA are used to .COM, .NET, and .ORG.
In countries outside of the USA, the Country Code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs) are widely accepted, and in fact often the default option. Country codes include .de (Germany), .co.uk (United Kingdom), .es (Spain), .com.au (Australia), .ca (Canada), and .it (Italy). Depending on the location of your business, a ccTLD makes perfect sense as an alternative to .COM.
Since January 2014, hundreds of new Generic Top Level Domains (New gTLDs) have become available for registration, giving consumers greater choice. Examples of such New gTLDs that focus on the automotive industry include .CARS, .CAR and .AUTO. Some of the best domain names in this gTLD are still available for registration.
A Study into a Geo .CARS Domain Name
When we refer to the word “Geo” in the domain name industry, a Geo domain name would be one that includes a city name. An example of Geo keywords would be “Dallas Cars,” “Chicago Cars,” “Atlanta Used Cars,” and “Miami New Cars.” Each of those are Geo keywords, and a Geo domain name would be something like DallasCars.com, Miami.Car, or NewYork.Cars.
Since .CARS domain names have been available for registration for over two years, I decided to evaluate how these domain names are being accepted in the market, how they are performing online, and how these domain names are being used by businesses today. I was also curious to know if they are being accepted and recognized by consumers. Lastly, I decided to evaluate if the required investment into .CARS, .CAR and .AUTO domains would be worth it for the businesses using them.
To analyze the data for Wichita.Cars, I wanted to see what happened in the past two years with the .CARS TLD and websites actually using a .CARS domain. I decided to evaluate if a .CARS domain name is worth the $3,000 purchase price, since this can be considered a premium compared to other TLDs not focused on the automotive industry. To find the answer to these questions, I was given unprecedented access to the statistics for these domain names. After viewing all of the data from rankings and analytics, there were some interesting findings—which I’ll detail here.
Scholfield Hyundai Buick GMC, back in 2016, originally launched Wichita.Cars and initially created a brand new single-page website on Wichita.Cars, which essentially allowed visitors to click through to another website. Without a considerable amount of content on the website and only “click through” functionality, the search engines had no incentive to rank this website in the top search results based on the website alone. Google specifically does not tend to rank “thin content” websites very well. This is one of the reasons why the results I found in my analysis below are all the more astonishing.
Traffic and Traffic Value
Wichita.Cars received a good amount of visitors right after it launched in 2016. The amount of visitors grew even further when the car dealership launched a new version of the website in 2017.
Average Cost per Click (CPC) for the “Wichita Cars” keyword, according to SEMrush.com.
17,191 total visitors to Wichita.Cars website during 2016, according to Google Analytics.
The Wichita.Cars website has been live on the Wichita.Cars domain name for just over two years. This is a decent amount of data to draw solid conclusions, based on data collected from Google Analytics along with search engine ranking data from SEMrush.com.
The Wichita.Cars website and domain name is doing better than other similar websites on other TLDs, such as .COM, .NET, or .ORG.
- Cars received 5,518 organic visitors from Google in 2016 and 6,390 total organic search visitors in 2016, just by having a basic website on the Wichita.Cars domain name.
- The average CPC (cost per click) for the “Wichita Cars” keyword is $2.50 per click. If we multiply the average CPC by the number of visitors Wichita.Cars received from organic search during 2016, we get to a value of organic search traffic totaling $15,975.
- The dealership received about $16,000 of value from organic search engine visitors in 2016.
- The direct type-in traffic value the dealership received was $24,280 during 2016, based on 9,712 direct clicks or type-ins to the website.
Based on my analysis of the Wichita.Cars website and domain name being used for over two years and not having been promoted (other than through organic, free search results), we believe the Wichita.Cars domain name and website have been a great success. I expect that this dealership will continue benefiting from using a highly relevant Geo .CARS domain name.
In the first year that the Wichita.Cars website and domain name were live, the car dealership saw about $40,000 of value through direct type-in traffic, as well as traffic from organic search.
The .CARS Top Level Domain (TLD) is just one TLD of 1,200+ new TLDs that have become available in the past several years. Many industries now have their own related TLD, whether it’s the legal, loan, retail, accounting, photography, or wedding industry.
Considering a Switch to a gTLD Domain Name?
Just like the .CARS TLD, many website owners are benefiting from the increased organic search visibility, better Google Adwords quality scores, and better conversions from switching to a better, shorter, more memorable domain name.
If your website uses a domain name that’s long, doesn’t describe the business you’re in, or has a hyphen in it, then consider your options for a better domain name.
New gTLD Stats keeps an updated list (https://ntldstats.com/tld) of all the New gTLDs, and a count of how many domain names are currently registered in that TLD.
What TLD is your website currently? Thinking about a switch? Share your thoughts in the comments.