Are you struggling to figure out if you should use a country code top level domain?
You’re not alone! There are hundreds of local businesses wondering the same thing.
It’s about location, location, location, right?
That’s why we came up with this handy post on the pros and cons of using a country code top level domain or a ccTLD.
In this article, you’ll learn if you should use a ccTLD for your website and some popular examples.
Get ready to get country.
About Country Code Top Level Domains
Most people are familiar with websites that have top level domains like .com, .net and .org. For instance, nameboy.com.
On the other hand, A country code top level domain (ccTLD) is a domain name extension used for geographic locations.
There are well over 200 country code TLDs available today.
Here’s the difference between a TLD and a ccTLD. Each country has a two-letter code. The ccTLDs are the shortest domain extensions with only two characters, and generic TLDs have three.
For example, the United State’s code is US and the country code domain is .us.
Here’s a breakdown of a ccTLD:
A country code top level domain may be a good fit for businesses trying to build brand awareness in a specific location.
Let’s take a look at the pros of ccTLDs first.
Pros to ccTLDs
We’re going to start out with a few pros of choosing a country code top level domain for your website.
Availability is a pretty important factor when you choose a domain name.
We recommend your first choice always be a .com. If that’s taken, a ccTLD might be easier to find.
However, you should probably avoid this if there’s a well-known .com that already exists, because it could cause confusion.
Overall, there’s a better chance of finding a domain name if you choose a ccTLD, but it might be in competition with a similar website.
For example, if you bought coffeeshop.us because coffeeshop.com was taken, people might just visit the .com and miss your website altogether.
If you’re not sure about availability, you can search for it in a domain name generator for some help with suggestions.
By connection, we mean the association that your domain has with your location. And more specifically, to the people in that location visiting your website.
You may not know this, but there are descriptive domain extensions that help the visitor know it’s a specific type of website.
For example, the .md domain extension helps visitors know it’s a medical doctor or a healthcare website.
Country code top level domains are the same way, in that it tells visitors that the site is local.
Your domain name could be a connection between the community and your local business.
Typically, when you search locally, you type in your area or use the term “near me”. That helps search engines know where you’d like to see search results.
For example, if you were looking for dentists in Hong Kong, China, you may type this in the search engine:
Having a country code top level domain helps the search engines and the users find your location.
If this dentist, located in China, had a .cn domain name extension, the local results may recognize this in the search.
Still not sure if a ccTLD is the right choice for you? Let’s take a look at some of the downsides next.
Cons to ccTLDs
Country code top level domains aren’t for everyone. Let’s take a look at some cons to ccTLDs.
Search Engine Optimization
You might think that if you’re based in the UK, it’d make sense to use a domain ending in .co.uk.
But did you know that your domain ending sends a signal to Google about the audience you’re targeting?
The search engines assume that content on a .us domain targets people in the United States. Which is great for sites that are actually targeting those countries but can pose a problem if they aren’t.
If you’re based in one location, but your target audience is worldwide, you’ll want to avoid using a country-specific domain.
That said, there are a few exceptions to the rule!
For example, Google treats some country code domains such as .co or .me, as generic rather than targeted to their related countries. But you’ll want to double-check your keywords before committing to a ccTLD.
When it comes to the cost, it’s a bit unpredictable. Their pricing is considered “unregulated”, meaning it’s determined by the country that offers the domain name.
This style pricing means that the initial cost of a ccTLD could be more than some top level domains.
This also means that the price can change from year to year. The cost to renew the domain name might be a bit higher in the future, as well.
More on domain pricing can be found at the best places to find a domain name for sale.
There are some unique rules when it comes to country code top level domains.
ccTLDs are controlled by each country’s government. They set their own guidelines for who can register and use their domains.
This includes things like identity verification or rules related to censorship and freedom of speech.
These rules can change at any moment. And, even though these changes are rare, it’s best to know the ccTLD basics.
Now that we know a little more about ccTLDs, let’s talk about some examples.
Probably the most popular ccTLD you may know of is Zoom. Their website is zoom.us and it’s trusted by a lot of people. Over 468,000 people to be exact.
Their ccTLD is .us, because they are a United States-based company. However, they also purchased zoom.com, because it is the most widely used generic TLD.
A popular website in China is Gov.cn. It’s a Chinese-run media website with the ccTLD domain .cn which is currently the most used country code top level domain.
Web.de is another example of a ccTLD. It’s a popular German-based website for technology resources.
The .de domain extension is the second most popular ccTLD.
The last example of a popular ccTLD is nhs.uk, a health-related website located in the United Kingdom.
And here are the most popular ccTLDs currently:
In comparison, here are the most popular top-level domains worldwide:
So, in learning all of this about country code top level domains, have you decided if it’s for you?
Should You Use a ccTLD?
It’s decision time! Should you use a ccTLD or a TLD?
Choosing to use a country code top level domain is simply a matter of weighing the pros and cons!
We filled you in on country-specific domain extensions, learned some of the pros and cons of ccTLDs and some examples.
We hope this has helped you make the right decision for your website!
And, just in case you need more information on domain extensions, here are some tips on how to choose the best domain name extension.
Whenever you’re ready to set up your website, there is a free domain name waiting for you at Bluehost. Good luck with your search!
As always, we’re here for you at Nameboy if you need any help with your domain.
You got this!