There has been quite a bit of turmoil ever since the AICPA and CPA.com announced the launch of .cpa, a restricted internet domain exclusively for the CPA profession. There are a lot of questions, particularly around search engine optimization, that no one seems to have the answers to. No matter how many experts weigh in, webinars are attended, or FAQs are read, firms are seemingly left with more questions and uncertainty than answers.
We’ve put together the following general guidance to help firms that are conducting their own due diligence. We are also hoping to bring some perspective to the information being shared.
We applaud the firms that are asking questions and want to try and help them make a sound decision in their investment. We also applaud the AICPA and CPA.com for working to continue to elevate and maintain the value of the CPA.
The following general guidance is our interpretation of what firms should address before deciding whether to invest in the .cpa domain. It is reflective of the guidance issued as of October 27, 2020.
What is the value of switching to a .cpa domain?
- Enhanced trust and clarity with the end-user,
- better branding opportunities, and
- improved data security.
Consider asking yourselves some of these questions as you evaluate this opportunity for your firm.
- How will this impact your SEO equity?
- What will it cost to obtain and maintain the .cpa domain?
- What will it cost from an IT perspective to comply with the basic activation requirements?
- What plans does the AICPA have to help legitimize and communicate the value proposition of the .cpa in the eyes of the end-user?
- What consequences or penalties will your firm face if you reserve your domain in phase 1, but ultimately decide not to comply with the basic activation requirements?
- How do we comply with the basic activation requirements?
Search Engine Optimization Considerations
The question everyone has – how will the .cpa domain impact your current SEO equity?
No one can claim, with 100% certainty, what the impact of switching to the .cpa domain will have on your search engine optimization. Truthfully, no one knows the algorithm used to determine your Google ranking. In fact, it changes daily. What we do know from experience, is that the length of time you hold a domain (your domain age) is still a factor in Google’s algorithm. How heavily that is weighted, is unknown. When you switch to the .cpa domain, you can expect to see an impact on your SEO.
Setting up a redirect and submitting a change of address form with Google are best practices when changing your domain, however there is no guarantee that your rankings and domain authority won’t be affected in the short term. Again, no one can say with certainty how much weight is given to domain age in rankings, but it is certain that your domain age does not simply transfer over.
Plan for Increased Costs:
As many of you begin the planning and budgeting process for 2021, you will want to account for the additional investment associated with a .cpa domain including but not limited to the cost of:
- Obtaining the domain(s)
- Complying with the basic activation requirements
- Cost to set up the re-directs
- Monitoring and maintaining broken links
- Maintain the domain(s) on an annual renewal basis
Based on what we know today, we are suggesting that your firm reserves the domain most consistent with your firm branding by October 31 (phase 1). In doing so, you are taking steps to protect your digital footprint.
If you recently changed your firm name or went through a merger, consider obtaining additional domains.
For the time being, we suggest holding both domains. Firms do not have to stop using their current .com domain. Instead of it being an either/or conversation, think about it from the bigger picture potential of having both domains. For example, you can use your .cpa domain as a microsite to support a digital marketing campaign that ultimately redirects to your .com site.
Determining which domain leads requires a strategic conversation. There are ways to satisfy the basic activation requirements without moving your site. If you’d like to have a more in-depth conversation, please reach out to us!
Check https://register.domains.cpa/ frequently for updated FAQs and resources like this application timeline which articulates the application process.