Case study: Conducted an experiment on domain TLDs for search engine performance

.Store Domains is a leading domain provider specialising in selling .store domains (as the name suggests). With the aim of telling search engines and users more about the site they’re visiting, this newer domain TLD is growing in popularity, especially within the eCommerce industry.

The Challenge

No public data to properly answer customer questions and back up brand messaging

As a business that sells .store domain TLDs, .Store Domains are often asked if domain TLDs make a difference when it comes to search engine performance. And the only answer they were able to give was Google’s official stance that TLDs are treated equally. But with no data publicly available on this, they wanted to know for sure so they could give their customers a definite answer.

The Solution

Conduct an experiment on the SEO performance of domain TLDs

To find an answer for .Store Domains and their customers, we conducted a 12 month experiment. We set up two fully functional eCommerce websites - one with the TLD .store and one with the TLD .com.

Although .Store Domains was hoping for .store to come up triumphant in order to back up their brand messaging, they wanted to do the experiment as scientifically as possible to get a true answer. So that’s what we did.

The experiment was made as scientific as possible by reducing the number of variables between the sites. For example, the sites sold the same products, had the same layout, and the same number of pages etc. But due to the nature of search engines, the sites couldn’t be fully identical otherwise Google would identify the duplicated sites and respond negatively, creating false results. So we made just enough changes between the two sites that Google wouldn’t identify them as identical. For example, we used slightly different brand colours, reworded written content, and used different fonts.

Over the 12 month experiment, we undertook a range of strategies. For example, we wrote blog posts (that were reworded between the two sites) to see if search engines favoured one TLD over the other when it comes to organic content. We also ran paid search and shopping ads to see if search engines would favour one TLD over the other when it comes to paid media.

The Result

The result Improved customer communications and rebranding

After 12 months of running the experiment, we had our results. Although the .com TLD started out strong by performing better when it came to indexing, the overall winner was .store with better performance from a PPC and SEO perspective.

These results were momentous to .Store Domains as they could now give a definite answer to their customers, and the answer provided concrete data to back up their brand messaging of why customers should buy a .store TLD.

The results of this experiment were so important to .Store Domains that following the experiment they decided to rebrand and include the experiment data in their site-wide communications.

Arjun Pande

Arjun Pande Director

We approached Contrast with a clear goal in mind: to conclusively determine whether the choice of domain extension (.com vs .store) impacts SEO performance. While Google’s official stance is that all domain extensions are treated equally, we wanted to provide a definitive answer backed by solid data.

Contrast was our partner for this experiment due to their extensive eCommerce and SEO expertise, which gave us confidence that they could effectively manage and lead this research. Throughout the experiment, the team at Contrast was highly accessible, promptly addressing any queries we had and keeping us regularly informed about the study’s progress. Their commitment to delivering accurate and in-depth results was evident and appreciated.

The findings from this controlled experiment provided us with valuable statistical data, demonstrating that selling on a .store domain can significantly reduce Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) and enhance visibility and clicks from an SEO perspective for an eCommerce business. We have looped these insights into our marketing communication for .Store Domains. We are excited about how this research indicates that eCommerce businesses using .Store Domains have an edge over other generic domain extensions.

We look forward to working with Contrast again for more such unique projects in the future.

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