Should I Go With A Country-Code or A .COM Domain?

By Daniel Scocco

questions and answersThis post is part of the Friday Q&A section. If you want to ask a question, just write a comment below.

Sohail asks:

I am going to start a new blog, which will cover country specific stories. What do you think, should I use a country-code specific domain name or a .COM domain for this blog? Does a country specific domain help generating more organic traffic?

First of all let’s clarify how domain names work. The right-most part of a domain (technically called a “label”), is the top-level domain. The top-level domain on www.microsoft.com, for example, is “com”. Even though the dot is technically not part of the top-level domain, we’ll use “.com” throughout this post, because that is how most people call it.

There are basically two types of top-level domains: Generic top-level domains (gTLDs) and Country-code top-level domains (ccTLDs). Generic top-level domains were created for websites related to particular categories. The six original gTLDs were .com, .net, .org, .gov, .edu and .mil.

Country-code top-level domains, on the other hand, were created for websites related to particular countries. Examples include .uk (United Kingdom), .br (Brazil), .ro (Romania), and .cn (China).

Now back to the central question: if you are going to create a blog or website with content related to a specific country, should you go with a .com or with the country-code domain of that country? And does it matter either way?

First of all yes it matters. The top-level domain that you choose will affect how search engines will perceive your site, and hence it will affect the amount of organic traffic you’ll get.

Whether you should go with one option or the other depends mainly on the audience you are aiming to attract to that website. Let’s consider two different scenarios two illustrate thisl

Scenario 1: General news about a country

In this first scenario the site owner is trying to build a site with general information about a specific country, so that people from all over the world can learn more about it. For example, he could want to write about Ecuador, talking about the lifestyle there, the culture, the economic situation and so on. The language of the site is going to be English, because he want as many people as possible reading his content.

In this case the best choice would be to go with a .com domain, because it will indicate to search engines that the content is global in nature, with a bias towards English speaking visitors.

Scenario 2: Local news about a country

In this second scenario the site owner is trying to build a site with local news about a specific country. Again let’s suppose that the country is Ecuador. This time, however, the language of the site is going to be Spanish, and the information published there will be interesting mostly to people living in Ecuador.

In this case the choice would be to go with a country-code domain (.ec for Ecuador, for instance). This would indicate to search engines that the content of the site is related to the country in question, which would improve the search rankings of the site for search queries coming from the same geographical location.

One final tip: apart from choosing a domain that will reflect your targeted audience it is also important to host your site where most of your visitors are. If you have a global audience, host it in the United States. If you have a local audience, host it inside your own country.



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15 Responses to “Should I Go With A Country-Code or A .COM Domain?”

  • How to blog tips

    I grab the “.com” on my site because I know my target readers will definitely just type the “.com” extension instead of using the “.com.ph”. But anyway I hosted my site in United States.

  • Gail

    Hi there. As web designers we also have several sites of our own and are owners of several domains, including .biz and .net variations. you do not mention .biz as being one of the 6 gTLD extensions. if not a gTLD, what is the .biz extension. Also, i have not heard of the gTLD.mil. What is that supposed to be for?

    Great tip on hosting where your audience is BTW Daniel. We already do that with a couple of sites hosted in the US and most of the others in the UK, where we are based. I did not know abount Google Webmaster Central being a place to stipulate where your site is most relevant for though – so again – another great tip! Thanks Sohail.

  • Joe from Montana

    .com .net and .org are all very effective when it comes to ranking with Google. I have tried all three for the same keywords and they are equal. .us and .info didn’t rank at all.

  • Arijit Das

    Daniel, I’m totally agree with you… As i found some guys who tried to create a global audience with an (.in) Indian Domain to sell their Quality Products but failed!

    They faced a lot problem to attract the global client… At last they found the lack in the domain and with changing it to (.com) they got the power of Global attraction….

    So, always choose the (.com) domain for commercial purpose, its very Effective!! 🙂

  • ppc tips

    I think you’re always better off with a .com if you can get it. Of course there’s nothing wrong with both. Thanks.

  • Tushar

    always go for .com domain until and unless you are providing some country specific services….i have had a very bad impact of choosing a .in domain for my previous blog

  • Dave Higgs

    Thanks.

    Never thought of it like this?

    Does hosting really make that much of a difference? In South Africa our hosting packages are very expensive because of the cost of bandwidth. For example I can get unlimited bandwidth, unlimited domains in the US for less than a months domain hosting in SA for a single user (basically <100m disk space and about 1 G traffic, no db).

    So, is it that important? It is a massive cost saving for me to have my South African site hosted in the US.

    Thanks
    Dave

  • Julius

    Prior to reading this post, I thought the choice was more of an “it depends on the site owner’s preference” type. Now I realize that there’s much more to it than that. Thanks for the explanation and for the tip at the end of the post.

  • Matej

    It’s hard for tourist places because somehow you need to target people from your own country and then UK, Germany,Italy,USA etc. … and all Google search results are different for each country. Really different.

    I thought about doing .com/de .com/it subdomains and then via Webmaster Tools tell Google how to geo target that subdomain. At least I heard it’s possible.

  • Sohail

    Thanks Daniel for detailed discussion on this 🙂
    Meanwhile, i found that if we own a .com domain and specify in Google Webmaster Central that this .COM domain is more relevant of a specific country, Google shows up the site more in that country’s search results. This short video by Matt Cutts explain it really well.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ei_duGzEl94

    Also one of my friends tried it and there is already spike in the traffic that he gets.

  • Chester

    Yes, it’s important to have that domain especially when you’re promoting your own country.

  • Harrison

    Unless you’re writing about television and have the .tv domain .com is best.

  • GenericGene

    I suggest you grab the .com if it is available & certainly get your country code if it is available, also get some DBO name if available to direct to your site, just make sure you are not infringing any TM & the like –
    All the best Gene

  • Daniel Scocco

    @Russel, that is correct.

  • Russell

    Daniel,

    Thanks for the explanation.

    In the example above, in what countries would you want to host these sites?

    Would you want to host both domains in their ‘home’ country’ i.e. the .com in the United States; and the .ec domain in Ecuador?

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