The .Info Domain Issue - Your Thoughts?

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Within your domain portfolio, there might be a few .info domains. If that's the case, do you find that owning .info's (in relation to the success of your search engine optimization campaign) are positive, negative or that it's just downright not important?

That's exactly what one of our readers wants to know - so let's help him find out.

From my perspective, .info domains have some inherent problems - namely that thanks to ongoing abuse, the "brand" value is severely diminished. Several years ago, Dotster was giving away .info domain names in order to spur some interest in the top level domain. The problem with giving things away free is that people begin to feel that they can throw it away. The other problem is that many registrars (for example GoDaddy) are currently selling .info TLD's for far less than other .com or .net domains. This again gives spammers an opportunity to save a few dollars on their domains and increase the money they could potentially make - even if it's only a few dollars.

The other downside (and perhaps the most important negative) is that Google has in the past removed .info's from the search results (albeit temporarily) to protect the integrity of their search results pages (directly related in my opinion to how spammers use .info domains). While many SEO's consider the temporary removal nothing more than a glitch, it's difficult to argue that there is a stigma attached to .info - and that this bias may extend behind the algorithmic curtain at Google.

What are your thoughts on the .info domain issue? Share your insights in the Website magazine forum.

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Dante Monteverde 09-08-2008 11:09 AM

I'll post this in the Forum Discussion as well... But to get this started:

From a SEO perspective .info domains are negative. Google tends to NOT rank these domains high on their results page when compared to a similar .com domain. Almost like .info domains have a slight penalty and appear "spammy" in the eyes of Google. Good SEO involves doing a doing a bunch on and off page techniques just a little better than your competition so you rank higher on the Search Engine Result Pages. If your .info domain is going to give you a slight penalty you are already at a disadvantage. So it's just not worth it to use an .info domain for SEO purposes.

However, that doesn't mean you shouldn't purchase an .info domain. There are far more .info domains available than .com or any other TLD's. One strategy could be to purchase an .info domain because it's shorter and easier to remember and the .com is unavailable. Use this .info domain for branding, on a print ad, or the radio. When someone enters your .info domain into your browsers address bar implement a 301 redirect to your main non .info domain that you are actively promoting and implementing SEO to.

So use an .info because a domain name you may like is available that isn't available with any other TLD's (like .com). But I would NOT recommending spending all your efforts implementing SEO on this domain b/c you may already be at a competitive disadvantage before you even begin your SEO campaign. This also holds true for SEM (PPC).

caddyalan 09-08-2008 3:30 PM

I can't name any domain names including .info (or .biz, or .us, or...) which seemed like spam. But I'm not sure why domain names ending in .com would be less prone to spam... Is it just because the .com extension has existed longer?

Arsen 09-08-2008 8:40 PM

Large-scale spammers often purchase thousands of inexpensive domain names and use them to influence search engine ranking algorithms such as PageRank.

.info domains are usually much cheaper than .com's, and are therefore, more prone to be used by spammers.

For example, today GoDayddy sells a .com for $9.99/yr and an equivalent .info for $1.99/yr.

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