Something which has come to my attention recently (and it’s rare that anything does!) is that Google is penalising .gb.com domains quite severly within it’s search results. After a bout of rigorous testing, the Manchester SEO Blog can confirm that .gb.com domains may hamper your SEO, to such an extent it because very difficult to get these domains to rank well. This is a warning to anyone who has (or knows someone with!) a .uk.com, .us.com or anything similar. But there is hope!
What Is The Problem with .gb.com Domains in Google?
Like .uk.com and .us.com domains, these domains look like sub domains. Google knows that sub domains have a fair amount of independence from the main site and domain, but will hold all parts equally responsible for the whole. Let’s suppose Sue has sue.gb.com and Fred has fred.gb.com. If Fred were to use black hat SEO techniques and get himself punished, Sue will also suffer because Google will hold her site partly responsible.
As recently as last year it was possible get first page Google listings with .gb.com domains, but alas what appears to have happened is that the www.gb.com homepage is deemed too much like spam for Google to trust any other domains off .gb.com.
I realised the sheer scale of this problem by searching out a hundred .gb.com domains in DMOZ, then copying and pasting their <title> tags into the Google search bar. The highest I saw any domain listed was about page 3, but most were page 5, outranked by their domain WHOIS entry and Alexa Traffic Rank. This is the first sign that something was very wrong beyond simple poor listings!
After some further testing, I can confirm it is not possible to get good rankings with any of these domains in Google, and – for SEO purposes – they should be avoided at all costs!
How Do I Get My .gb.com Domain Listed in Google?
I was able to resolve this problem by simply using a new domain, and setting up a 301 redirect. Believe it or not, Google recognises all the good PR and popularity the .gb.com domain had, but leaves behind the penalty points of being part of that domain. The person I solved this for suddenly shot onto the first page of Google the moment they were indexed around six days later.
How Do I Know If My Domain Is Penalised By Google?
There are several points to check:
- Try to find a page with at least 60 characters in the title tag, then simply copy and paste this into the Google search bar. Nine times in Ten if everything works as it should, you should be on that first page.
- If not, try surrounding this with quotes for an exact match and see if this makes a difference
- Try searching for your website or company name along with your address (if this features on the site). If again you don’t see yourself, this is another possible diagnosis.
- Try searching for your domain name itself. If you find the WHOIS information and Alexa website above yours, we know something is not right
What Does This Mean For .uk.com, .us.com and Similar Domains?
Firstly, don’t panic! I believe it is unlikely we will see anything similar with the .uk.com .us.com and similar domains, unless the homepages of these sites turn into spam of the same calibre as www.gb.com which I think is unlikely. But nothing stops you being prepared – be sure to have an alternate domain handy. Hopefully you have done the sensible thing already and bought up all domains around your brand names and company name (it makes good sense to do anyway!).
If you suddenly find your site disappears, follow the tests outlined above. If at least two of them fail, then it is probably time to set up a 301 redirect to your other domain. Only do this as a very last resort once you have confirmed this is the root of the problem!