This week we learned more about the ranking power of domain extensions, received new information on HTTPS as a ranking signal, and learned that Google doesn’t like app download pages.
More details on each of these top stories in this week’s SEO news roundup.
Latest SEO News – Week Ending 7/24/2015
Any Difference in How Domain Extensions Are Ranked?
Is it true that .com is the best domain extension for SEO? Do any of the new domain extensions, like .rules and .expert, come with any kind of rankings boost?
These are legitimate questions any site owner might have when registering their domain name — and the answer is there’s no difference at all.
Google confirmed that all domain extensions are weighted equally. So one of those crazy new domain extensions like .pizza could potentially rank as well as a .com.
However, it is also important to keep in mind that the age of a domain is a ranking signal. So a new domain does not have as strong of a ranking signal as an old domain by virtue of the fact that it has not been online as long.
With all else being equal, domain extensions provide no advantage or disadvantage in search.
HTTPS is a Dealbreaker in Search
Speaking of all things being equal, which is an extremely difficult assessment to make in the SEO world, we do know of something that will give your site an advantage.
HTTPS was announced as a ranking signal back in August 2014, but few details were revealed at the time.
We knew that it was a “lightweight” ranking signal, but didn’t know to what extent HTTPS was being valued in terms of search rankings.
Now we know it’s a “dealbreaker” — that’s how Google’s Gary Illyes referred to it when I asked him about HTTPS on Twitter this week:
@MattSouthern more like a dealbreaker. All other signals being more or less equal, it gives a page the edge needed to top the other result
— Gary Illyes (@methode) July 21, 2015
So if two sites with similar ranking signals were competing against each other in search, the site using HTTPS would be ranked higher than the other.
Whether or not that’s enough to persuade you to move your site over to a secure server is completely up to you to decide.
By the sounds of it, it’s probably most beneficial for sites in a tightly competitive niche that have been struggling to find that extra oomph to put them ahead of competitors.
Google Doesn’t Like App Download Pages
Ever try to visit a mobile site and land on a page where they ask you to download their app instead?
That’s called an app download interstitial page, and Google has come out against using them. In fact, the company is leading by example by removing the app download interstitial from Google+.
Previously, when visiting a Google+ page on your mobile device you would have been prompted to download the app. The company found this led to few new app downloads, and turned away roughly 68% of visitors.
Based on the fact that the app download interstitial was turning away more people than it was converting, Google has removed it and recommends other site owners do the same:
“We believe that the increase in users on our product makes this a net positive change, and we are sharing this with the hope that you will reconsider the use of promotional interstitials. Let’s remove friction and make the mobile web more useful and usable!
It’s too early to say what this means, but when Google says it doesn’t like something you usually shouldn’t ignore it.
Wrapping it Up
Now we know domain extensions mean nothing when it comes to search rankings, HTTPS may give you the edge you need to outrank competitors, and app download pages are a Google no-no.
If you have any questions or concerns about any of this week’s updates, please leave a comment below and I will be sure to respond.