Some companies sell bags, some sell guitars, some sell phones, some sell shoes, and others sell everything from antiques to zippers. Just about all companies today sell “something” – and themselves — online.
As the Internet has grown over the past two decades we’ve seen more and more participation by businesses online to the point of ubiquity. Businesses that started small, perhaps with a simple, one-page website have expanded their online presence to hundreds of sites with many thousands of webpages. How content on these sites is organized and how the architecture that enables Internet users to find (either directly or via search) the content they are looking for seems like magic at times.
In some instances you’ll see a URL such as http://www.hilton.com/boston and in other cases you’ll see hiltonboston.roomstays.com. Both have information about Hilton hotel properties in the Boston metro area. The difference in the URL structure is based upon how the websites are set up.
Now the web is a-flutter with news – delivered by Google’s Matt Cutts in a recent blog titled “What to Expect in SEO in the Coming Months” – that the search engine giant is changing its algorithm in a way that will almost certainly affect most companies, and specifically those that use subdomain names.
Let’s take a quick look at how and some possible reasons why – especially why your company should take notice.
It all comes down, as so many changes and decisions related to the Internet do, to Search Engine Optimization (SEO). As SearchEngineWatch explained in its breakdown of Cutts’ video, “If you’re doing deep searches in Google … you can see the same site popping up with a cluster of results on those deep pages. Google is looking into a change where once you have seen a cluster of results from the same site, you will be less likely to see more and more from that same site as you go deeper. Cutts mentioned this as being something that came specifically from user feedback.”
Cutts explains that this is going to clean up and improve search results. But why now? Could it be because new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) are coming soon and with them a massive expansion of the number of domain names and websites? Will this make it easier for users and search providers alike to connect with the most relevant content? Or maybe not, but like most things coming from Cutts, it has many of us wondering.
As we’ve explained before, new gTLDs will change behavior. It’s just not clear exactly how or if their impact will be felt in search yet.
BUT REALLY, WHY SHOULD I CARE?
You should care because your company – large or small, private or public a) is probably on the Internet using subdomains and/or subdirectories, and b) may have applied for its own new top-level domain.
How your company decides to build its presence in the new gTLD landscape – whether it owns the gTLD or whether it registers in another gTLD – will impact how your company appears in customer search results and, therefore, how much search-driven revenue it gains, maintains, or loses.
Everything a company does online, from launching websites for specific campaigns to maintaining a comprehensive corporate homepage, is going to have to be translated into the new world of new gTLDs, which could begin launching this fall at a rate of 20 per week.
The architecture of existing websites as well as the architecture of a company’s new gTLD strategy will need to be carefully designed or “renovated” if the company determines that its domain name structure is no longer “SEO stable.”