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KPMG to Transition from .com to .kpmg – Savvy Digital Strategy or SEO Crapshoot?

KPMG, known worldwide as a global auditing and tax advisory firm, is making a move that the SEO world is watching closely, on the heels of its announcement that the company intends to migrate most of its Internet properties away from its current domain and onto the .kpmg generic top-level domain (gTLD). The company has said the issue largely boils down to branding and authenticity, noting that customers would be better able to determine that any information they come across is clearly coming from the firm itself when it has a .kpmg domain attached.

The implications for the SEO world are unclear, but many experts will be watching the developments closely. Of particular interest will be what impact, if any, the shift has on Google search results for KPMG’s web properties. In 2012, Google’s Matt Cutts stated the web search company intends to treat the new generation of branded gTLDs agnostically, allowing them to compete on a level playing field with other TLDs.

SEO experts, however, are always acutely aware that the output from Google doesn’t always match the rhetoric, and many will be curious to see whether KPMG suffers or thrives for its efforts to migrate to its own branded gTLD.

The transition to the .kpmg gTLD will be a “phased migration,” according to David Green, KPMG’s head of global digital marketing. The move represents a significant undertaking for the company, which employs nearly 155,000 worldwide. KPMG’s IT team faces the gargantuan task of seeing that the firm’s communications systems, particularly its MX records, aren’t broken during the switchover.

KPMG believes that the move will do more than simply reaffirm its brand identity. By taking over the responsibility for their domains at every level, KPMG believes it can better assure the security of vital customer information going forward.

One SEO benefit may be the improvement in response times that KPMG is planning to achieve, as Google has increasingly weighted page speed as a ranking factor. If a site can deliver a page in 1 second, all things else being equal, it will be favored over a site that delivers a page in 2 seconds. This could allow KPMG to leverage a technical advantage into superior SEO performance.

In the meantime, SEO experts worldwide will be watching KPMG’s efforts, and they’ll be dutifully noting any hiccups, failures and successes that might accompany the project. What do you think will happen?