Search Engine Optimization (SEO): how do domain names influence your ranking?

Generic extensions, country-code, reputation, technical, what are the levers to optimize a site?

The number of sites registered each year is constantly growing. Facing this proliferation, it is not always easy to find what you are looking for. This is the role of search engines, which organize and classify sites according to users’ requests. It is essential for these search engines to offer consistent results that meet the expectations of Internet users. This is what we call SEO, and it is the keystone of many aspects of digital marketing. Indeed, creating a website is the first step, but it is still necessary to have traffic on it, whether to sell products, to communicate about one’s services, in short: to convert an Internet user into a customer.

Newly arrived at Netim, Moreen joins the team as Traffic Manager and will be our SEO referent during this article in order to allow us to make the link between theory and practice.

The goal will be to understand the stakes of SEO and what can influence it, especially the role of extensions.


What is SEO? Why is this indicator so important today?


SEO, SEA, what are the differences?

When we talk about SEO, it implies the ranking made by search engines on a query. It is important to understand that referencing is always done in relation to a word, a group of words, a place, etc… These are the settings that allow you to target a particular audience.

For example, in order to stand out on the query “Register a domain name”, I have two options:

  • I can “buy” this query: in reality, this is an auction system. If I win, I get a place at the top of the page for a certain period of time. Thus, I will be guaranteed to be on the first page and thus to be particularly visible for the Internet users having typed the request “Register a domain name”.
  • Otherwise, I can work on the titles of my pages, the contents of my site, the titles of my images, the internal and external links, in short: optimize my website. This work is, of course, tedious, but has the merit of not being limited in time.

We speak of natural referencing or SEO (Search Engine Optimization), that is to say, that nobody “forced” the ranking by buying keywords. It is the optimization of the site that makes it consistent with the requests of users. When we go through a purchase of keywords, we talk about paid search or SEA (Search Engine Advertising). These pages are positioned at the top or bottom of the search engine results and have the sign “Ad” attached.

In this article, we will focus on natural referencing (SEO).

What affects SEO or how to improve your natural referencing?

Ah, the famous question…

There are as many different answers as there are SEO experts. But, to understand the logic, let’s say that three parameters are common to many theories:

1. The technique

This is the technical optimization of your site. Indeed, when Google’s robots come to probe your site, they will initially give it a score that will be more or less high depending on the technical errors they encounter.
In other words, if one of your pages is in 404 error, you risk a malus. If your metadata is not up to date, you may also go down in the ranking, etc.

Above all, you need a solid site that is capable of welcoming Internet users and is increasingly efficient (especially with the Core Web Vitals, Google is becoming more demanding on the page’s response speed).

Optimization includes a clear and coherent tree structure and architecture, both for Internet users and for search engines, title tags, hn tags, canonicals, Alt attributes, etc. Without forgetting to integrate keywords that relate to the page! This data will allow you to go up more easily on the targeted requests.

Tools to crawl your site like Google’s robots and detect possible problems: Botify, Oncrawl, Screaming Frog

2. The content

Let’s go back to our keywords, queries on which we rank.
You have to understand that the most important thing for Google (or any other search engine) is to provide their users with a list of site pages that meet their expectations. So, if I search for “Register a domain name” I want to click on a page that answers my request and allows me to either learn more about this action, or to perform it, or both.
To do this, we will have to position ourselves on this request by creating content around this theme. This is what we call semantic search. The content will be enriched with a certain number of keywords that will correspond to the requests of Internet users.

Each page must be unique with unique content that will answer a request and its lexical field. Therefore, before creating a page, we must think about the main query we want to answer. Of course, Google is becoming more and more intelligent and understands natural language better than ever.

The content must therefore be high-quality! No need to fill your page with the same keyword in each line… It is also necessary to avoid duplicate content, meaning 2 pages that deal with the same subject, in this case, we cannibalize ourselves.

Tools to find out what people are looking for: Semrush, Conductor Searchlight, Google’s keyword planning tool, Google Trend to know the trends, or Answer the public which will give you additional ideas for your writing.


3. The popularity

To satisfy their users, search engines have to be sure of their sources. Once the robots have probed the technique and the content, they are now in a position to affirm that the site works correctly and that the content is relevant to a given query.
The next step is to establish whether or not the content of the site can be trusted. This is where the popularity rating comes in. And to judge this, the robots will look at the links made to this page (backlink). Indeed, they believe that if a significant number of external sites link to this site, it is considered as a reference and that it will be unlikely to disclose false information.

This also depends on the expertise and “age of the site”, we can refer to the EAT:
  • Expertise: we know what we are talking about with quality content
  • Authority: pop, backlink, etc.
  • Trust: to inspire confidence by having a secure site, especially for financial transactions, notices, etc.


The influence of the domain name on natural referencing


An influence between myth and reality

Often exaggerated, sometimes invented, the role of domain names on natural referencing is not completely proven. One thing is sure, Google makes a distinction between :

How? By favoring certain results according to the geographical zones induced by certain geographical extensions. In other words, it is true that a site in .fr would be more likely to appear on French requests than a site in .doctor.
Nevertheless, this general rule should be put into perspective. Google’s robots are smart enough to understand the “nationality” of the site even though it is not a country code top-level domain. This means that a .com website written in French, with a contact address in France and the euro as currency, will have as much chance to appear on French queries as a .fr.
It is also possible to integrate tags within the code to indicate the location.

Google makes the difference between generic and country-code extensions. It is interesting to note that city extensions (geoTLDs) are considered generic extensions. Thus, a site in .paris is, according to Google, considered as a site in .com for SEO!


Extensions with bad reputations


Some extensions do not have a good image. They host many fraudulent sites and their trust indicator is not green. Why are some extensions more likely than others to have such sites in their base?
Price is a good indicator. Most free or very cheap extensions often host a lot of fraudulent sites. However, the volume of registrations is significant on these extensions if we believe the report on the domain name sector.

So, should you register your domain on dubious extensions or not?
The answer is: it depends!
Of course, these extensions have their advantages, and their role in the referencing is not essential. Nevertheless, we advise you to use these extensions for tests, or as a personal site, in short, a site where you do not place all your hopes. Because the reputation of a site plays an important role in the final referencing and, considering the variety of extensions available, it would be a shame to limit yourself!

If you want to get an idea of the worst-rated extensions, you can consult this site for statistics of the worst TLDs.



As you can see, the subject of SEO is infinite and there are many recommendations. What is sure is that its influence on the traffic of sites is huge. It is therefore inevitable for many companies to look into the matter. However, SEO works, and it works in the long run.

Many settings influence the ranking of sites on search engines. And, even if the extensions do not play a primary role, it remains a parameter to be taken into account when registering a domain name.

Are you having problems registering your domain name? Are you having trouble deciding? Why not take a look at our 15 professional tips for choosing your domain name. You will be able to take into account many parameters to register THE domain name made for you.

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