Google has recently announced that it does not plan to give higher weighting to the Dot Brand compared to other top level domains. This should not be surprising, but nor should it be a reason to write off the benefits of that particular top level domain for organic search.
Google is always revisiting and revising its ranking algorithms, and Matt Cutts said that the new extension will see a transition period while the search engine tries to learn, or identify, which top level domains are valid, and which ones offer the most relevant results for each user. They went through this with .coms versus country-specific top level domains, and they will go through it again as new extensions are added.
Search is Always Evolving
There was a time when keyword stuffing worked, but the Penguin algorithm stopped that. The Pigeon algorithm helped to add weight to locally focused, mobile-friendly results, and Hummingbird helped the search engine to cope with the increasing demand from users for high quality, dynamic content. As user demands change, algorithms change too.
Google’s current plan is, quite reasonably, to watch and wait. It wouldn’t make sense for it to give weighting to the Dot Brand at the moment, because it’s unclear how the brand will be used, and what users expect to see from it. Why would the search engine weight something that neither it, nor its users, completely understand?
In a year or two, when the Dot Brand is established, we may see some changes to the algorithm to reflect the way that the top level domain is being used. It’s unlikely that any spammers or squatters are going to be able to exploit this delay, since anyone who wants a Dot Brand will have to wait until the next round of gTLD applications open. It’s unlikely that ICANN will do another round of applications in the next couple of years, so legitimate brand owners who got in on round one will have a nice head start.
Dot Brands are just starting to take off. Amazon, Google and Microsoft are working on their Dot Brand presence right now, but it will take some time before consumers recognise, trust and understand the idea of not having to type dot com at the end of every domain. The next few years could see a big shift in SEO.