Proponents of .bank top level domains (TLDs) tout increased security and exclusivity, but do they deserve their virtual pedestal? If you’re considering migrating an existing site to a dot-bank (.bank) TLD there are many considerations to be aware of. In this article, we’ll look at the pros and cons of transitioning to a .bank TLD and go over some of the hurdles you are likely to face if you decide to.
Let's start with the basics (feel free to jump ahead if you're already in the know).
What is a Dot-Bank TLD?
A .bank TLD is an attribution granted to the website of a banking institution that signifies said website has been verified to meet certain security and eligibility requirements. Functionally, this means that instead of .com or .net the banking institution’s website will end with .bank.
Are .bank TLDs worth the hype?
In short, it depends. If you have a relatively new website or are already planning a website redesign or URL structure update it is likely a good time to make the jump for the sake of being ahead of the ball. However, despite the common narrative online, there really aren’t many benefits to migrating your current site to a .bank TLD at the moment and the transition may be more expensive and time-consuming than you anticipate.
Additionally, while many smaller banks have already opted for a .bank TLD, of the top ten largest banks in the US, all of them utilize a .com TLD. Because of this, we can assume the average person likely isn’t aware of .bank TLDs and their implications.
Security Benefits of a Dot-Bank TLD
In order to qualify for a .bank TLD your site must meet specific security requirements. Yet, regardless of what many proponents (usually registrars selling .bank TLDs) portray having a .bank TLD does not inherently make your website more secure. It only means that your site and other online properties have been verified to have successfully implemented certain security standards. You could implement all these same standards on any TLD.
One security benefit that does hold water, however, is that it would be more difficult for scammers to execute phishing attempts against your customers. Due to bad actors being unable to obtain a .bank TLD for their mal intentioned websites and email addresses. In other words, your clients will only need to check for the .bank to be confident that a link or correspondence is legitimate.
Cost of Implementation
A .bank TLD is considered “premium” and as such is more expensive than your typical .com or .org, though this added cost likely isn’t going to make or break any financial institutions. However, the monetary and opportunity costs of properly executing a full site migration (moving all your URLs) and executing every security protocol required by governing bodies to be eligible for the new TLD should be considered.
To properly migrate your site to a .bank TLD you will need to implement 301 redirects from your old URLs to the new URLs. This way, anyone who attempts to go to your old site (example.com) will automatically be sent to the new site (example.bank). This will also inform search engines like Google of your site's new location.
Additionally, all internal links will need to be updated to point directly to the new .bank URLs. Updating internal links will require significant effort depending on CMS capabilities. Even though 301 redirects will allow internal links to still technically work, leaving them as redirects will cause SEO and UX issues including:
- Slow load times when internal links are clicked as users now need to be redirected
- Waste crawl budget as Google and other search engines will still initially attempt to crawl the linked page before being redirected
- Hinder the flow of page rank through your site
Some CMS platforms, such as WordPress, offer plugins that can “find and replace” the updated portion of internal link URLs. Check with your development team to see if there is a similar solution able to be utilized within your CMS.
Site Migrations and Organic Traffic
Site-wide migrations of this nature have the potential to temporarily disrupt the amount of organic traffic you receive from Google and other search engines.
When moving TLDs and implementing 301 redirects to cover the gaps you are putting an additional layer between your website and the site linking to you. This will often cause a “dampening” effect on the power of the links pointing to your site. Since they are no longer pointing to your site directly, but rather they are pointing to a page that no longer exists that is then pointing to your site.
With that said, as long as the new destination URLs will contain the same, or very similar, content as the ones being redirected Google should (after some time) still attribute most or all the previous URLs’ authority to the new URLs.
There will also be a definite, though likely relatively short period of time where organic traffic to all pages drops substantially. This is because Google and other search engines will be attempting to understand what happened to your content and where it went, though Google has become quite adept at dealing with these types of situations and should figure things out relatively quickly.
Summing Things Up – Should You Make the Switch?
In most circumstances, I wouldn’t recommend most established financial institutions embark on the journey of switching to a .bank TLD as a stand-alone project. The ends simply don’t justify the means. However, there are two scenarios where I believe it would make sense to transition an existing site.
First, if you have a smaller or newer website that could transition relatively easily, it makes sense to migrate before you grow too much, and it becomes a much more complex project should you decide to switch down the road.
Second, if you are already planning a URL structure update or site redesign then these make ideal opportunities to transition to a .bank TLD as you can incorporate the additional push into the overarching project.
Hopefully, this article gave you all the information you need to make an informed choice. Liquid has over 20 years of experience in helping companies make complex decisions about their online presence and digital marketing. If you’re looking for a partner to help you navigate the ever-changing landscape of the digital frontier, reach out today to learn more about our services and track record.