Improving SEO with context and a .design domain name
Karen and Dave Rose are the owners of Fraser Valley Website Design, now found at fvwebsite.design. The business has grown considerably as they’ve expanded from SEO to graphic design, photography, drone imaging, car wraps, oh, and they also happened to get married in the process!
If Karen’s path from dairy farmer to SEO guru wasn’t already non-traditional, it seems that the recent switch from a .com domain to a keyword heavy .design name, fvwebsite.design, has created a noticeable uptick in their Google ranking, especially as displayed on Google Maps.
“My mind is always thinking ‘relevance, relevance, relevance’ and the .design domain made perfect sense to me,” said Karen. “I said to Dave, let’s try this domain ‘.design,’ and the website.design part of the domain has just worked out fantastic. The technical benefit I saw was that we moved right up, right away, on the keyword search on ‘graphic design’ and ‘website design’.”
Despite what some media outlets, and Google themselves, have said, the Roses have definitely noticed that their domain has benefited their ranking. Google claims to remain domain agnostic, which is a safe statement coming from a company that applied to run 101 new top-level domains (as part of the post .com era, new options include .design). “Overall, our systems treat new gTLDs like other TLDs (like .com and .org),” they claimed in an article in Webmaster Central Blog, “keywords in a TLD do not give any advantage or disadvantage in search.”
The fvwebsite.design story isn’t just anecdotal information, this is a report coming from an SEO expert. Karen has been in the SEO business for the past 15 years. That’s pretty much since the birth of SEO. She spent much of that time leading a team of 5 global algorithm analysts for Microsoft through large corporate developments, including the Bing and Yahoo merger. Karen eventually moved on from the Microsoft contract to found Fraser Valley Website Design and has never looked back.
However, their success has not been without its hiccups. In 2012, when Google implemented Penguin (an updated search algorithm) and later versions, Fraser Valley Website Design took a hit. They lost their top placement.
“It was the Penguin algorithm, which was followed up by 3 version updates, the latest one was October 2014 that dropped our ranking due to many issues,” Karen told us, “such as old CMS codes, broken links back to other sites, and content relevancy for SEO metas.”
Something had to change and that change came in the form of a new domain. Tapping her entrepreneurial spirit and her SEO expertise, Karen followed a hunch and moved the company’s domain name from fvwebs.ca to fvwebsite.design.
fvwebsite.design currently retains the top positions for “web design” and “graphic design” within a 80 mile radius of their base of operations (60 miles out of Vancouver, BC).
“It used to be that you’d build a company and then find a domain name,” Dave told us, “Now, you get the domain first and build the company second.” Availability and inventory are some of the great benefits of new TLDs, especially new TLDs with a professional edge, such as .design.
The Rose’s story contradicts previous statements made by Google that adopting a new TLD will neither benefit nor hurt your SEO. While we have a clear counterexample in Fraser Valley Website Design’s SEO success with .design, we can also conclude that a relevant domain will always give your site greater context and make it more clickable. Perhaps the results are due to the fact that the new domain was just more appealing to those searching for local web design help in the B.C. area. Maybe it was this interest that caused their rise to #1 in local search. fvwebsite.design’s story is only one datapoint, but it points to the value of .design for SEO and is part of a larger success story. We look forward to following along and learning from these entrepreneurs and others like them.
Have you experienced an SEO breakthrough with a new TLD? Tell us your story!