Google Temporarily Purges .info Domain Names

May 25th

I do not own too many .info domain names, but a couple of them that I do own have quite solid link profiles. In spite of this, on May 23rd all of my .info websites (including search-marketing.info) disappeared from Google's search results. And then the next day it returned. It may have just been a ranking glitch, but many other webmasters had the same issue... their .info domain names simply disappeared from Google.

Why would such a thing happen?

  • 2008 prediction from Matt Cutts "A top-level domain (TLD registry) will offer domains for under $4. The result will be another TLD blighted by spammy domain registrations."
  • GoDaddy has a 99 cent sale on .info domain names.

Marcel Feenstra highlighted this issue on LockerGnome:

Filtering out all .info domains just because some of these domains are being abused is, of course, far too draconian a measure, and I don’t think it’s what Google intended. It would make much more sense if they filtered out, say, .info domains that had been registered less than a year ago and that didn’t have some minimum number of “trusted” backlinks.

Was the .info purge a glitch? Maybe, but Google never will accidentally filter out all .com domain names. This algorithmic tweak (especially when coupled with Matt Cutts' prediction for 2008) shows an internal Google bias against .info domain names. While many .info domain names rank where they did just a few days ago, this does not bode well for the perceived value of .info domain names, especially for brand new domain names or parked pages.

Just one more example of how domain names play a big roll in SEO strategy.

Published: May 25, 2008

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Comments

May 25, 2008 - 6:32am

My css3.info domain was not affected, so I think people are jumping to a conclusion here...

May 25, 2008 - 6:55am

I had numerous .info domains that disappeared. The search-marketing.info domain has ranked top 5 for "search marketing" all year long...then disappeared one day...on the same day that many others were complaining.

Another .info that I have which is ranking decent for some terms disappeared as well...and all these data points are confirmed by Google API data as well.

November 10, 2008 - 12:51am

I just recently found this blog post. Are *.info still being discounted in value by Google? I realize that this probably doesn't have a definitive answer...but what has been your experience with them?

November 10, 2008 - 1:53am

I believe they do not get the love some other extensions do, but you could still rank one if you built up enough quality signals.

May 25, 2008 - 7:40am

I always advise my clients against .info domains. And while I respect some of them having quality content, they are few and far between. When they are too easy to get and cheap to buy, it opens the flood gates for people who are just trying to make a quick buck.

May 25, 2008 - 7:43am

jdevalk, it may be that you were looking at a different datacenter than the others. People not seeing the same thing when they look at G's results is normal.

May 25, 2008 - 10:25am

What a relief to hear it has not been only me. I saw my airplanes site disappeared in Thursday and even thought I've received some penalty. Nice to see it back now, though I am starting to think if I registered .com I would rank higher.
I find it absurd to judge about the site quality based on the extension of the domain name. Hopefully it has been just a glitch.

May 25, 2008 - 4:30pm

Maybe not just .info domain names......

I have a relatively new site that currently ranks 3rd in google for its main targeted search term.

The #2 site is a Lycos/Tripod site. Its ranking is mainly age related - the site has been in place for a long time and has attracted its share of links. It has oddly disappeared from google search twice in the recent past, once for a day and once for two days. The two day incident was just a few days ago.

Just as mysterious as this site's disappearance was its re-appearance. The same phenomenon as as the .info disappearance/re-appearance.

Obviously it would be good to know if tripod sites as a whole were gone from the index during this time. Clearly the stable of free tripod sites could be as good a target for index-cleaning-up-by-google as .info domains. It could also be there was just some odd thing with the site I saw. Unfortunately I don't know what happened beyond the single site tripod/Lycos site I am dealing with.

Dave

May 26, 2008 - 9:56pm

I'm glad I didn't know about any of this until now, otherwise I might have freaked. I so want the .com, and maybe one of these days I'll be able to get it, but until then, I need my .info to do the job for me.

May 27, 2008 - 12:30pm

The disregard in which the search engines held .info domain names has long been talked about, however there has not really been any evidence to this effect to my knowledge. That is until now perhaps.

The reality is however that .com names are almost like hen's teeth and quite often one finds when looking for a decent domain name that it's held by a squatter holding the domain name to ransom.

Up until now, such practice was illegal in Australia, but from the 1st June, apparently the same situation will apply.

If people can't get a decent domain name with a .com extension, or a .net for that matter, then what the hell are they supposed to do. Fair enough to say "use a little imagination", but an .info domain name is registrable and if it's registrable then it should be treated as equitably as any other extension.

Cheers,

Ric

PS... I also subscribe to the theory that "he who has the gold makes the rules", so whatever I say or think won't matter a damn to Google!"

June 1, 2008 - 7:25am

I agree, since its cheaper than .com it's can be abused and used for spamming purposes. does this also mean that expensive domains like country level domains (.ph for example) given more importance?

June 2, 2008 - 1:19am

If you read the leaked Google documents they hint at how regional domains may indicate more value in some cases and less in others.

June 29, 2008 - 4:41am

I think the domain name extension does have effect as one of my site aupp.info is not yet indexed on google while being submitted 6 weeks back.
Should .info we considered as ignored by google

June 29, 2008 - 10:19am

I don't think .info names are ignored by Google, just trusted less than .com, .net, .org, and ccTLDs like .de or .co.uk.

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