Weekly SEO news: 28 July 2015
Welcome to the latest issue of the Search Engine Facts newsletter.

In a post on Google's Webmaster Central blog, Google's John Mueller explained how Google handles new top level domains (TLDs) such as .guru or .how. This week's article has all of the details.

In the news: Google Panda 4.2, HTTPS is a deal-breaker in a ranking tie, hidden content has less value, Bing has an analytics issue, and more.

Table of contents:

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1. Official: how Google handles new top level domains (TLDs)

In a post on Google's Webmaster Central blog, Google's John Mueller explained how Google handles new top level domains (TLDs) such as .guru or .how. Here are the details:

1. Google does not favor any TLD

Google's systems treat new gTLDs (generic top level domains) like other gTLDs (like .com & .org). Keywords in a TLD do not give any advantage or disadvantage in search.

2. Googlebot can crawl and index IDN TLDs

Internationalized domain names (IDN) TLDs such as .みんな can be used the same as other TLDs. Google treats the Punycode version of a hostname as being equivalent to the unencoded version, so you don't need to redirect or canonicalize them separately. For the rest of the URL, remember to use UTF-8 for the path and query-string in the URL, when using non-ASCII characters.

3. A .brand TLD has the same weight as a .com domain

Those TLDs will be treated the same as a other gTLDs. They will require the same geotargeting settings and configuration, and they won’t have more weight or influence in the way Google crawls, indexes, or ranks URLs.

4. Region or city TLDs like .london or .bayern are treated as gTLDs

Even if they look region-specific, Google will treat these TLDs as gTLDs (generic top level domains). This is consistent with Google's handling of regional TLDs like .eu and .asia. There may be exceptions at some point down the line, as Google sees how they're used in practice.

5. Country code TLDs will be used for geo-targeting

By default, most ccTLDs  (country code top-level domains) result in Google using these to geotarget the website (with some exceptions); it tells Google that the website is probably more relevant in the appropriate country. For example, a .de domain is probably more relevant than a .com domain in Germany.

6. Moving your site to a new TLD is the same as moving your site to a new domain name

Google treats moves to a new TLD the same as any other site move. Domain changes can take time to be processed for search (and outside of search, users expect email addresses to remain valid over a longer period of time), so it's generally best to choose a domain that will fit your long-term needs.

Summary: you can choose the domain that works best for your website

Google does not find any TLD better than others. All TLDs are treated equally. For particular countries, geo-specific TLDs have an advantage as they are an indicator that the website is more relevant to the particular geographic region.

According to John Mueller: "If you spot a domain name on a new TLD that you really like, you're keen on using it for longer, and understand there's no magical SEO bonus, then go for it :-)."

There are many different things that influence the positions of your web pages in Google's search results. SEOprofiler, the popular SEO tool that many professionals use, works with all top level domains and it helps you to improve the search engine performance of all of your pages. If you haven't done it yet, try SEOprofiler now:

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2. Search engine news and articles of the week
Google Panda 4.2 is here; slowly rolling out after waiting almost 10 months

"Many of you may not have noticed because this rollout is happening incredibly slowly. In fact, Google says the update can take months to fully roll out. That means that although the Panda algorithm is still site-wide, some of your Web pages might not see a change immediately. [...]

The rollout means anyone who was penalized by Panda in the last update has a chance to emerge if they made the right changes. So if you were hit by Panda, you unfortunately won’t notice the full impact immediately but you should see changes in your organic rankings gradually over time."

GoogleGoogle: HTTPS can be a dealbreaker

"The HTTPS ranking signal that was announced by Google some weeks ago has not been very significant to many webmasters. Google’s Gary Illyes commented on that on Twitter."

Patent: is an improved version of Agent Rank returning to Google?

"These patents may indicate a second attempt to present something like Agent Rank, but Google seems to be not presenting too much of the processes behind the scenes. The kind of reputation scoring found in the original agent rank patent provided a way to rank content based upon reputation scores that might be associated with writers, and their expertise on topics. "

GoogleGoogle: content with CSS display:none has less value

"There are a lot of legitimate reasons to use ‘display:none‘ in the CSS of a web page. However, you should be aware that Google gives hidden content less weight. Google’s Gary Illyes has explained this in an online discussion."

Bing search algorithm update? Nope, analytics tracking issue

"I saw as much as a 25% decrease in organic traffic this past week to the week before. But at the same, I saw a 200%+ increase in referral traffic from Bing. [...]

It seems that our hit in Bing traffic may be an analytics issue. For some reason our Bing traffic is being reported/segmented into 'Bing / referral' and 'Bing / organic'."

Search engine newslets

  • Google: rich snippets are not for your home page.
  • Bing Ads adding title tag from ad’s landing page to ad copy.
  • Bing Ads testing ads with images in search results.
  • Google's Gary Illyes tells webmaster to stop keyword stuffing.
  • Yahoo reports second quarter 2015 results.
  • Don’t go looking for a mobile phone store on Google.
  • Google to shut down orphaned Google+ pages.
  • Google: App download interstitials don't work.
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