There’s a common belief that the graphic to the left is the hierarchy of domain extensions for SEO. I’m not sure that is still true and it is possible to get favorable rankings for any domain extension.
But yet it seems that most of us want the domain extension .com. It’s an intuitive desire and that’s probably because most the sites we visit and know about are .com sites. When I’m searching for a domain name for a website I want to create, I always go after the .com name first for two reason. The first reason is that when I verbally tell somebody my domain name most people will assume that it is a .com domain. If my URL is SEO.net, instead of SEO.com, people who know me are likely to remember SEO, but they may forget the site is a .net and automatically enter SEO.com and not reach my site. And if somebody else has SEO.com they are going to get traffic that was intended for me.
Because the .com is so popular it has created an entire business of speculators buying up popular domain names and then attempting to sell those domain names to entrepreneurs who greatly desire a specific name. Often the domain name you want isn’t available, but when you enter the URL into your browser you see that there isn’t a website or the site is “parked” displaying a page full of ads.
Fortunately Google has started to do something new. If somebody searches SEO.com and if a speculator has bought the domain name just to resell it, and somebody else has SEO.net Google will produce a page that says essentially that SEO.net doesn’t exist, do you mean SEO.net, so the person who couldn’t buy the .com name and had to settle for for .net still has a fair chance at getting traffic intended for them, that is until somebody actually buys and develops the .com name.
However, the biggest question of all is the hierarchy of domains still valid. I think that Google will have to get beyond favoring one domain over another. I personally have been able to get .biz and .net sites to appear on the first page of the search results using the same techniques that I use to optimize a .com. However, some experts that I respect believe that .com is best for SEO, followed by .net and so on. But who’s to say for certain. Since the rumor is that having keywords in your domain name no longer provides as much Google juice, maybe we can assume that domain extension doesn’t matter or at least wane.
Having said that, I still like .com and have even use an underscore to get a .com name. For example seo_basics.com if seobasics.com isn’t available. I think most people shy away from the underscore or dash again, because it isn’t intuitive. If I verbally tell you my domain name and it has underscores in it, it might get confusing. However, I justify this because how often do we really tell somebody a domain name. Most of the time people reach the website clicking on a link so the dashes or underscore don’t matter. But I must also point out that some experts say using underscores isn’t a good idea. All I know is I have reached first page rankings using underscores.
Bottom line, we all like .com, but if that isn’t available don’t worry that much about a .net or any of the other extensions. Maybe .biz is relevant. As you might expect you can compensate for the domain extension if it does matter with a fully optimized website.