Win a worldwide audience with country code domain extensions!
Centre stage, the new domain extensions, hoopla and hullabaloo! Whilst backstage, ccTLD registrations have been rapidly increasing. Trusted, descriptive, an SEO booster, and increased traffic and page ranking. Country code domain extensions are the best way to target the whole world and open up your online presence. Here’s how they do it…
Country code domain extensions (ccTLDs)
Cctlds are domains specific to countries, e.g. Germany .DE, Austria .AT, Netherlands .NL. Generally two letters, each country code domain has its own rules and requirements. Prices vary according to each registry; most are reasonable, but some are… well, a bit pricey.
Several factors have led to this rapid growth in registrations. It’s hard to get first-choice .COMs. The registries are relaxing registration requirements. They’ve proved their value, with a long and credible history.
When you should use a ccTLD
You’ve a website with a generic domain like .COM, and you’re looking for targeted traffic from different countries. With ccTLDs you can have multiple sites tailored for multiple countries – big audience! Or, you’re launching a website for a local business. Users show a preference for local business websites.
SEO – higher ranking in local search engines
Search engines use IP addresses to find the most relevant local results for users. Same country? Bingo – good page ranking in local search results!
A user searching in Germany will get results that show .DE websites on the first page. In all likelihood, they’ll rank higher than generic domain extensions.
A ccTLD is recognised by Google as the clearest sign of what country a website’s targeting. It will rank it higher in the local search results. For search engines and users, a ccTLD is clearer than geo-targeting your domain name or server location.
Internationalised domain names (IDNs)
IDNs aren’t restricted to the Latin alphabet and can be written using characters in Arabic, Chinese, Cyrillic, and more. Examples are: .中国 for China, and .РФ for the Russian Federation. It means you can target your audience in its native language, and improve SEO by using the exact words that non-English speakers would use in a search query.
.AD .AS .BZ .CC .CD .CO .DJ .FM .IO .LA .ME .MS .NU .SC .SR .SU .TV .TK .WS
GccTLDs or open TLDs, are country code domains that Google treats like .COM, with regard to SEO and indexing. Some ccTLDs lend themselves well to domain hacks and abbreviations, so Google released them. Google’s list of gccTLDs does change, so check before you register. Examples are…
- Colombia’s .CO is a .COM challenger.
- Coco Island’s .CC is a favourite with consulting companies.
- Tuvalu’s .TV – let me guess… the television industry.
- .FM (Federated States of Micronesia) and .AM (Armenia) are popular with music, radio and social media enterprises. (.AM is currently not generic but anyone anywhere can register.)
Regional extensions like .EU and .ASIA are also considered to be generic.
Domain hacks with ccTLDs
A domain hack is created using a domain name and a domain extension. Making a word, phrase, or call to action. Only the gccTLDs mentioned above are generic, otherwise you’ll be targeting one country. Examples include instagr.am, youtu.be, and call.me. Heard of Will.I.Am?
A word of warning! If your brand name is SuperProfit and you register superprof.it. Pretty cool, no? Ranking will be for superprof, in Italy – Doh!
Language – it’s all or nothing!
Your ccTLD website must have language-specific content. That’s the whole website! What users can see and what they can’t – content, meta descriptions, title tags, alt tags, and URLs.
Locals will choose to go local
Before even entering your .CO.UK website, a user knows the language and currency. That delivery is local and customer support is in the same time zone.
You may have a .COM website that ranks well in queries around the world, but are users clicking and spending? Or do they bounce out when they see you’re not local? Low click-through, leads to loss of page ranking as Google considers a high bounce rate, bad.
Link building strategy
Each ccTLD website will need its own link building strategy. It’s easier to get into local directories and gain links from local businesses if your site’s local. Search engines will see your ccTLD websites as separate, so any domain authority built up on your .BE, won’t be shared with your .AT. Domain authority is like a character reference for your domain name that determines page ranking.
CcTLDs vs subdomains vs subdirectories
I’m not going to lie to you! Registering and maintaining multiple ccTLD domain names is hard work and can be expensive. It’s why some website owners decide to use subdomains or subdirectories, directing users from all over the world to the relevant content on their main website. But they’re not as effective. Your website can have language-specific pages targeting France, Belgium, etc., but your URL is ambiguous. You won’t be local and users will know.
Which way to go will depend on your budget. Don’t go crazy! If you have a .LU site and your customer base is Benelux, it won’t break the bank to register .NL and .BE.
- Sites created on separate ccTLDs displaying unique content, local language and currency. Geo-target by default, rank well in local search engine results. Increased authority for local link building and increased trust with users. More click-through, more revenue!
- A subdomain such as fr.example.com, is easy to set up and geo-targeting is possible. But does the FR represent language or country? You can host each subdomain in the relevant country so the IP address will help improve search engine ranking, but the trust value is divided between your various subdomains, and the site will compete with ccTLDs in local search results. Guess who’ll win!
- Country-specific subdirectories, e.g. example.com/fr/, won’t bring any SEO benefits. You can geo-target but it’s not obvious to users. Users are likely to land and spend time, but buy from a ccTLD site. This is the cheap option!
Country code domain extensions
They’re big, powerful, and well respected. They’ve been around for years and users are familiar with them. Customers contemplating a purchase, will check the domain extension as part of their decision making. Are you in their country, or the country of COM? Wherever that is…