We’ve already covered the difference between black and white hat search engine optimization (SEO) in this blog. However, there is a new trend of top level domains for the legal field (.attorney or .law) that makes it worth exploring, again. In order to show why these top level domains aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, though, we’re going to start at square one.
Refresher: What Search Engines Do
Search engines are businesses. Their specialty is indexing all of the webpages online, and ordering them by their relevance and importance for a given search query. They then sell ad space on the pages that show the results. The more people that use the search engine, the larger their audience is, so the more they can sell those ad spaces for, so search engines focus on delivering search results that satisfy their users.
The holding here is that the success of a search engine business relies on its ability to give its users the most relevant and the most important results for each and every search made.
Refresher: What SEO Does
Search engine optimization, acronymed to SEO, is the practice of tailoring a webpage to rank better in search engines.
Refresher: White Hat v. Black Hat SEO
There are a handful of techniques in the SEO world, some of which are more reputable than others.
So-called white hat SEO techniques are the reputable ones. These include paying for advertising in search engines, boosting your site’s technical performance, and filling your pages with quality content through legal blogging. All of these techniques play by the rules, set by the search engines: Search engines want relevant, important websites to show their users. White hat SEO moves are those that give them those websites.
Black hat SEO tactics, on the other hand, are techniques of ill-repute. These manipulate the rules that are set by search engines to boost a website towards the top of the rankings for a search, without making that website any more relevant or important for it. Search engines are actively looking for new black hat SEO tactics so they can penalize them, hiding the irrelevant and unimportant webpages that benefitted from the tactic from their users.
Top Level Domains: What They Are
You might be familiar with what a domain name is – it’s the name of a webpage. The name of the URL you’re looking at right now is “myersfreelance.com/top-level-domain-names-poor-investment/.” The domain name is “myersfreelance.com.”
The last part of that – the “.com” part – is the top level domain.
Why Legal-Sounding Top Level Domain Names Will Not Last Long
What part of a website’s top level domain name makes that site more relevant or important for a given search?
So why would a search engine boost the rankings of a law firm website, simply because it has a top level domain name “.attorney” or “.law”?
It wouldn’t. Doing so would increase the rankings of a less relevant, less important website, at the expense of other sites more deserving of the higher ranking, decreasing the search engine user’s satisfaction, which could hurt the search engine’s business.
Even if a legal-sounding top level domain name makes a law firm website perform better in the short run, the practice is a quintessential black hat SEO move that search engines have penalized in the past.