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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.

HOW

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.”

WHY

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.”

The Google Question

FairWinds Partners —  August 7, 2012

It has remained a mystery, an object of sometimes intense speculation, basically since new gTLDs first entered into conversations about digital strategy. “Talk all you want about their potential for online branding,” many digital marketers would say. “I want to know how Google is going to treat these new domains.” Continue Reading…

Any business that has undergone a domain name migration can tell you, there are some significant headaches involved. One of the biggest worries when switching to a new domain is preserving search engine rankings. There is an entire industry devoted to Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, and many companies invest significantly in the tools and tricks to make sure that their sites appear at the top of search engine query results.

With new gTLDs taking the stage over the next few years, businesses will be faced with the decision of whether to simply use new gTLD domains (dot brand or others) as vanity or marketing URLs for specific campaigns, or to sell the proverbial farm and migrate their sites completely from their old .COM or ccTLD domains to their new gTLD domains. Continue Reading…

While ICANN’s New gTLD Program is likely to be the largest expansion of the top-level domain name space to date, it is certainly not the first. Before ICANN was created, the Internet had eight gTLDs, including .COM, .NET and .ORG. Between 2000 and 2004, ICANN approved a total of 14 new gTLDs in two separate batches. These include .BIZ, .MOBI, .TRAVEL and others. Many regard these gTLDs as unsuccessful because of their low amounts of second-level domain registrations (.MOBI has a little over 1 million registrations, as compared to .COM, which has over 80 million), but also because of their low rates of adoption by Internet users. This has led many people to believe that new gTLDs will only succeed if they are widely adopted and Internet users begin typing them into their browsers. Continue Reading…