Product Development August 2, 2020

Why are indie hackers using uncommon TLD domains? .xyz? .so?

Dinakar @Dinakar

Indie hackers using uncommon TLD domains, can you explain why you are using domains such as .click .review .so and even .xyz?

TL;DR

  • .xyz .click .me and similar, avoid unless you really need and your project can't survive without it eg: linkin.bio
  • No hyphens
  • No numbers

Are you not aware that most search engines and ISP block several requests from these TLDs? .click and .xyz are topping with the highest number of shady sites. And yes, Google is looking into that matter and generally lowers your ranking until you gain some credibility. Edit: I see everyone focusing only on this para, this is just what I read before. Please read the next para, it's the reason I wrote this post.

Second thing is, I see a lot of numbers (t4sk4me) and hyphens (photo-graphy). I/we come across different sites each day, it's hard to remember "hyphens" and "numbers". Most of the time, I'll forget these low-level TLD domains and the ones with hyphens and numbers. Sometimes I forget it but try searching in my history with the leftovers I remember.

If I really need such a problem solver and if I unfortunately cleared my history, I'll try looking what I remember on Google. But hey, remember? Google just punished you for using a low-level TLD with all the "-" and "675"

Conclusion
Don't use .xyz and other very uncommon ones. If you can't find a name you're looking on a .com, then try .net. org .co even .me .ly and most country domains are Google safe.

You have my wishes for your next project. And current low-level TLD domain owners with hyphens and numbers, switch to good ones. For those thinking about costs, Porkbun has a $4 offer! If you look closer you can find a $1 domain elsewhere. Also, most hosting sites offer a free domain for the first year and even free-for-life domains throughout your hosting time with them.

Worth noting: Domains are an integral part of your online presence. Without a domain, you're no longer exist digitally! Give it a thought?

  1. 9

    This is quite a statement to come on and make without citing any data or facts.

    My product is on a .rocks domain and my organic search is awesome.

    Also let’s not forget that the company that OWNS google is on a .xyz

    I’d need to see substantiating evidence to take this post at its word.

    1. -3

      This comment has been voted down. Click to show.

      1. 10

        Hi. I’m sorry that it seems I’ve incensed you. I’ve no wish to argue so this will be my last post in this thread:

        1. “ anyone running a search engine business will reduce their ranking” - this is 100% conjecture.

        2. “ if I run Google” - you don’t. Therefore this is also a completely moot point.

        3. “ Also, I personally never click...” - good for you. It still doesn’t mean anything.

        4. “ chances are there are.....” - more opinion and conjecture.

        In this world we live in today where opinion is stated as fact all over the place and worse than that, deliberate misinformation is abound. I find threads like this really disheartening.

        Anyway. Good luck to you sir.

        Over and out.

        1. 1

          Please read

          I would suggest you to read more on this topic. I hope you're not expecting me to do all the research for you and present the data here. This post for people who are not aware of such things and not for the ones looking for evidence.

          Thanks for wishing luck to me!

  2. 2

    To answer your question:

    The reason many up and coming Indie Hackers use "uncommon" TLD domains is that they want a one word domain name, which is virtually impossible to find searching among unclaimed .coms or these domain names are too expensive to buy on the secondary market.

    As to your unsubstantiated claim "most search engines and ISP block several requests from these TLDs," this is simply not true.

    As Google’s Matt Cutts explained, they will continue to rank the most relevant results regardless of the domain name and extension. The key is to have a domain name that will strongly represent what your blog or company is all about.

    It is all about establishing a brand that users can trust — an authority that people would go to for relevant and useful information.

    If you select any weird domain name (i.e. Rabble.zip or BuyRabbleNowRabble.com), this will influence the audience’s perception of a brand — therefore affecting the brand’s click-through rate.

  3. 1

    I'm not quite sure what you are saying about the hyphens, but they do not get penalized... https://daily-dev-tips.com/

    My blog has zero downside effect from having them and look at css-tricks the biggest site you'll find and using hyphens?

    But maybe i'm misreading your article here.

  4. 1

    i used groupninja.web.app (.web.app) for my latest chrome extension why? because its free and makes sense

  5. 1

    I work in the TLD space and I have answers for you.

    For the most part, Google does not treat TLDs differently. A .com will not outrank a .xyz purely for being a .com. However, there are some TLDs that behave differently. You need to know that 2 character TLDs are called ccTLDs, which is short for "Country Code Top Level Domains". These are specific to a country or region, like .ca, .de, .ai, .io, .vc, .es. Google may expect a .es website to be in Spanish.

    The other "fun" TLDs, are equal when it comes to SEO. These are called gTLDs (Generic Top Level Domains). When it comes to ranking, Google has said several times that it does not have a preference for .com, .org, or .net over gTLDs.

    We must also consider RankBrain. This is a new ML-based algorithm for ranking. It takes into consideration things such as CTR from the home page for ranking. For example, if website A ranks #3 for a search result and gets a lot more clicks than website B ranking #2, RankBrain will place A higher than B. This being said, people can see your TLD on the search page, and if for some reason they don't trust .xyz, you will have a lower CTR and ultimately a lower rank.

    So as far as SEO goes, it doesn't make a direct impact. However, if a TLD has a subconscious impact of people's willingness to click or link to your site, then it will indirectly impact your SEO.

    People mainly go with gTLDs because their .com is taken and some squatter wants $25,000 for it. Paul Graham believes if you don't acquire your .com, you're not serious about your business. This was 5 years ago, he may have changed his mind by now http://paulgraham.com/name.html

    1. 1

      Thanks for throwing light on that and education me and others reading this. It's just I personally don't click on some of the extensions mentioned here and I once read having an extension such as .biz really lowers your business reputation even though you bought it for your business.

      And I also don't remember these extensions and the domains with hyphens and numbers. So I felt fellow IHers should know about it and you've done an excellent writing on this topic.

  6. 1

    It's getting very hard to find .com domains that are relevant, short, pronounceable, etc. I've been using alternative TLDs recently and I think its ok. Most people click links or bookmarks, or search for them by brand name. I dont think there are a lot of customers typing the URL in by hand that would also mistake the TLD. I could be wrong. To avoid this typo issue, I recently purchased the wordier .com version of my domain (https://www.darkpattern.games is the website, but https://www.darkpatterngames.com redirects there). So, thats a decent option.

    1. 1

      Add a UTM for that .com version and track how many visits you're getting from there. Will help you analyze if you have made a good investment.

  7. 1

    I always try to find name that have free .com. It just looks better in my opinion, but for one site I used .news.

    1. 1

      This is the case with most of us. I would also search for a .com first and then rethink other extension ideas. I haven't read much about .news but it's not common and you should consider how well it'll be remembered by your audience.

      1. 1

        News is good so far because website is about news :D

  8. 1

    I made the choice to go with FourthWaveStudios.com instead of fourthWaveStud.io 😎
    If you're planning on getting your organic traffic from google and stuff I guess making choices to be ranked higher is better. But for me I don't mind using fun TLDs because the traffic if coming from posts and sharing and connections.

    1. 2

      You did make a good choice and given the .com is available, I don't think it's worth it to go for the .io. Down the road maybe you can plan on acquiring the .io for a bolder online presence.

      Organic traffic does come what we do with a domain - agreed! But leaving the tech stuff aside, we are human beings (like [email protected] 😉), if you say your website is "fourthWaveStud.io" to me, I'll go type in "fourthWaveStudio.com". It'll be worse if it was "4thwavestudio". So rememberability and pronunciation does matter here along with SEO.

      Not relevant: I looked up your website on my mobile, the above-the-fold text is not easy to read with the video being played in the background. It was even harder to read before the video loaded.

      1. 1

        Thanks for the feedback, we just updated that header yesterday, I'll take a look

    2. 1

      We use .io and .it domains for our latest side project and so far we have had no issues at all from getting organic traffic from Google and the other search engines.

      1. 1

        .io is Google safe and to my knowledge, the cheapest .io costs $26. So I don't think bad guys are lurking around on that.

        .it will have higher visibility in Italy. Google prefers to rank websites locally too. So if your audience were from Italy it won't affect you in any way. Also, since you don't really have a .com it'll be hard to find if you have issues or not, mainly because you can't A/B test and compare its performance between one extension and another.

        To conclude, no matter what stage your projects are in, .io and .it are both quality extensions to receive traffic. This post is mainly for .xyz and other even lower quality ones.

        1. 1

          I do agree, ranking a .com is easier than any other TLD, but it's not impossible and you can rank say a .xyz above a .com domain if you have the patience and determination to do so.

  9. 1

    Price and availability.
    Could fit with the niche like, "target.click", "so.so" etc.
    It also works for url shortening.

    Are you not aware that most search engines and ISP block several requests from these TLDs?

    Is there any publication from google or ISPs that supports this?

    Just top of my head first domain I think of is with a gTLD ippsec.rocks. Searching on google "ippsec", it comes on 3rd place after his youtube links. In between 72.300 results, above pages like github and linkedin...

    If the site has malicious activities like adf.ly then you'll be sandboxed by google. AFAIK.

    In the end it is better to find a .com domain. However it's not necessary IMHO. Otherwise there wouldn't be thousands of TLDs and we would end up with four words domain names on .com

    1. 1

      Is there any publication from google or ISPs that supports this?

      I have read this myself but not able to find that now. Google has officially said, "Domain extensions other than .com and .net will have no advantage or disadvantage in search ranking". But that's just what they said, there are studies suggesting .edu .com and .net are ranking higher than other domain extensions. And honestly, if I were Google I would lower ranking of extension such as .xyz. They are available for $0.22 making it really easy for anyone to plot their next shady site!

      "ippsec", it comes on 3rd place

      I did mention that, "lowers your ranking until you gain some credibility" hide.me will definitely rank higher than hiclick.me. Along with credibility relevancy does matter here.

      And Anil, there are over 200 ranking factors, Google/ any search engine will never list out those publically. Once they say what ranks and what doesn't rank bad actors are gonna come in and follow that step by step, and again, if I run a search engine business I wouldn't want that. To the public, I would just say extensions don't matter and keep the bad extensions out until they gain credibility.

      1. 1

        over 200 ranking factors

        This also what they said.

        10 unique posts with targeted keyword, a few backlinks, and $50 ads on google, make it clean/fast/mobile friendly, add google products(analytics, webmaster). You are in page one in a moderately competitive keyword.

        Don't use .xyz and other very uncommon ones.

        I mean what do you suggest then, I always check for a .com domain first with available social media accounts but these days it's quite unique to find.

        I have something in my mind related to substack, I come up with the name dirstack.com. Oh it's taken. stackdir.com damn, same. Either I turn it to some jibberish like stackdr (lol I just checked it's taken.) or use an alternative TLD.

        Additionally, you wouldn't get anything from search engines before you build credibility. I doubt any of the IHs get their initial visitors from there. So in the end it seems like it doesn't matter much.

        And yeah even tho it's not written anywhere it's seems lik .com domains have a priority on search engines.

        1. 2

          Reiterating:

          • .xyz .click .me and similar, avoid unless you really need and your project can't survive without it eg: linkin.bio
          • No hyphens
          • No numbers
        2. 1

          I totally agree with ranking any domain. You can rank photo-graphy118.xyz but is it really worth it, is the questions here.

          Do you want your customers/users/clinets or whatever to go through such an un-memorable experience? Most of us will say no right now. But still they chose these domains that's why I'm thinking what their thought process were.

          Directstack.net .co are good options. You can also run it on Namemesh and other tools to really get a good name. Namemesh has a SEO section too! You can use that and get a good name or atleast an inspiration for new names.

          1. 1

            Even tho I sound opposite, I do agree for going for .com domains and memorable names. But they are just unavailable. Thus I didn't bought dirstack.xyz or anything else. Just put it into the pile to see if I come up with another name. If I can't there is nothing to do but picking an at least more general and trustworthy tld like co, io, app etc. I usually check domainr.com, it feels faster than others.

            Whoever try to rank photo-graphy118.xyz, please don't. :)

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