European Union to seize UK registered .EU Domain Names – An SEO’s Perspective

Posted on April 2nd, 2018 under Domain Names & Web Hosting by Chris Lever

As you’ve probably heard by now, the European Union has announced that they plan to revoke and seize all .EU domain extensions that are registered by UK individuals and UK registered businesses.

If you’ve not picked up on this provocation yet, have a read of the following articles:

The Verge

Search Engine Land

EU PDF Announcement to Stakeholder

Personally, I do not see the logic behind this move. It has to be a leveraging move or a punishing move, I do not see an inbetween. Whatever the case, it’s going to cause a lot of uncertainty and frustration for thousands of companies. There is going to be many thousands of UK companies who have investing in and branded their online presence on .EU domains, ultimately, they will be forced to migrate to another domain.

Nevertheless, I do see some opportunities the search community can capitalise on. For the search agencies and SEO freelancers like myself that means additional work in the pipeline in the form of migration strategies and the recovery work for poorly planned and implemented strategies gone wrong or left too late. Prior to writing to this post, I had a think about how this could pan out and the moves agencies would take.

I would foresee, the domain registrars are going to be notifying .EU domain holders within the next couple of weeks. That’s probably when the interest will start growing, search agencies will probably start posting migrations strategies on their blogs to drum up some leads. Before long, I would have thought that many established search agencies will have a few domain migrations on their books.

I suppose the key factor in all of this is time itself. The powers that be within the EU will start seizing domains on the 30th March 2019 or shortly after. I would imagine there’s tiered process put in-place and possibly extension periods. Large-scale migrations are going to take months to fully execute. When I say large-scale I mean an inbound link portfolio of several thousand or more domains. Thinking that through, it’s not a lot of time really. Considerations being lead time, contract signed, drawing up the strategy and implementation. The bulk of the time will go into outreach, for that I mean reaching out to all domains with links pointing the clients.

Moving on, thinking of external factors that will go along with the .EU domain seizure announcement. I bet the domain squatters will be out in forces snapping up likely candidates for migration. To sell them on at hugely inflated prices. I bet there will be numerous legal cases mounted at the EU to try and reverse this decision. Even after domain are seized legal cases will be mounted, I wonder if legal firms are preparing for some extra caseloads? Especially those in the IP (Intellectual Property) space.

According to this article there’s in excess of 300,000 .EU registered domains registered by UK entities, although many of those will be holding domains. In real terms there’s scope for around 30,000 domain migrations. That’s a heck of a lot of workload for the search agencies and in-house teams, those poor souls in the outreach departments are going to absolutely hate this in a few months from now.

As for the strategies, there are many factors and considerations in-play that no two migrations will be the same.  It’s certainly not as straightforward as standard domain migrations, in normal domain migration scenarios the existing domain would be 301’d to the new domain for years to come. As previously mentioned the bulk of the work would be outreaching, a strategy would need to be in-place for that alone. For example, if you set a priority order of DA (domain authority) alone, you’d be neglecting relevance.

Execution date would need to be a leading consideration factor, examples being how many inbound domains has your team managed to switch to the new domain? 50%, 75%? Where’s the over-the-fence line going to be set? Then, what is the plan for the existing domain whilst you wait for seizure? 301 redirect or a holding page? Personally I would go choose a holding page.

You could also have a strategy in-place for the actual site migration, have a think about would you start to canonicalize URLs to the new domain first? Which order would you implement the canonicals? Maybe pages lower down in the searchers intent order or lower money-making search terms.

Other considerations are; email awareness campaigns, social awareness, rebranding, marketing material, loss of customer confidence. Jeez, it could cost some companies millions of pounds/euros. You can see now, why your team would clearly need a strategy. Ideal scenarios, teams with domain and site migrations under their belt. I’m thinking of putting together a migration consideration checklist if that would be of some resource for some teams? Feedback welcome?

Final thoughts, hopefully the EU will reverse this decision. It’s not going to end well for both sides, it will cause frustration, job losses and divides. Whoever thought this through clearly didn’t have scope of the ramifications. Which makes you think, what else has been thoughtlessly pushed through the Brexit process? #scary



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