As companies grow beyond their humble origins, a surprisingly common question is this: should we buy the .com domain to improve SEO?
SEO alone doesn’t justify a high cost for this since Google seems to treat generic TLDs equally (ex: .com versus .org), and this has been reinforced this year as well.
Furthermore, the impact of URLs on keyword rankings, which includes slugs, has drastically gone down over time.
Yet many of us feel a .com is best due to its popularity. I agree but have never been able to defend this with hard data. Perhaps you gain more direct traffic & brand authority?
Something doesn’t look right with a .net extension but trendy ones like .ai have modern appeal, especially with ChatGPT & other AI tools emerging. These are just as good as .com for the right business. (Even though .ai is also a country code TLD for Anguilla but rarely treated as such.)
The exception (of course) is a country code TLD like .ca. This helps when expanding internationally with local products & services, as Google may better geotarget the site’s page for that region. This especially helps when competing against your own established yet highly-similar pages from the dominant location, for both search engines & users.
If you do buy a .com domain, the redirect process can harm organic traffic for at least a few months, perhaps longer. In these circumstances as well, Google and other search engines seem to reevaluate pages in a major way, for better or worse!
However, a recent Yandex leak seems to confirm they at least weigh .com domains higher. So like many topics in SEO, there isn’t a crystal-clear answer!
In summary of the evidence and specific to Google though, the need for a .com extension to improve SEO is usually weaker versus maintaining what you already have.