Ask An SEO Expert - gTLDs vs. ccTLDs

Posted by Emily Bailey

December 8, 2012 at 12:00 AM

There are many different domains that you can choose when building your website. You may be wondering, does one type reign superior to another in terms of building trust and authority for your site? Can some domains isolate users that are in different territories (example .com vs. .uk)? How can you plan for future expansion now?

In this week's Ask An SEO Expert, Bradley Smith, SEO Consultant at Slingshot SEO, explains the benefits of different domains and how to best plan for the future of your domain today.

Do you have an SEO question that you would like to have answered? Simply submit your question on our website or via Twitter by using the hashtag #AskAnSEOExpert.


Ask An SEO ExpertSo today's question is, "If I own both the .io and .com, which one should I have as a main site, and which one should I use as a redirect? Does it matter?" Everybody probably wants to know the answer, what is Google going to say? Or what is Bing, or any other search engine going to favor as what I use for my top level domain?

Well, I would take that a step backwards and say, what is going to be best for the customer? Because, ultimately, if Google or Bing aren't there yet. They're trying to get to that point. What is going to be the best result to show for the customer, when it comes to ranking one website over another?

So, some specific things that I would think of, when I'm trying to answer this question for a site that I'm building, or a client site, I would say, are there going to be any benefits to geo-targeting this domain? Am I going to gain any significant amount of trust by using a .io or a ccTLD versus a .com, a gTLD?

Specifically, .io relates to British Indian Ocean Territory. I actually looked it up on Wikipedia. That doesn't have any specific language other than English. So, in this case I would say, okay, that is kind of off my checklist. I don't have to worry about if I'm going to gain a significant amount of trust based on the language of the domain name.

The next thing I would say is, what is my site going to be about? Is it going to be an authoritative information site? Is it going to be a site where I'm selling products online? Specifically, if I'm selling products online, again, is there any significant amount of trust that will be gained by placing it on a .io? Am I going to specifically be able to target users or customers in the British Indian Ocean Territory region? So, that would be another question.

Then, if I'm going to target British Indian Ocean Territory now, am I going to expand into other territories later, whether it's an information site or e-commerce driven website, anything along those lines? Because if I'm going to expand into different areas later, maybe I want to go ahead and use the .com anyways, just so it can be opened up to other territories.

So, that being said, back to what my answer was, is what is best for the user? Because ultimately Google and/or Bing will have to be there in order to provide the relevant sites to a query in their search engine. There are a couple of other things that Google says specifically in their Blog about what to do with a multi-regional website, and what kind of indicators they're looking for with a multi-regional website.

They talk about geo-targeting for specific websites, specifically for specific regions. I'll provide you with those links. But there are a couple of key things that they look for. They look to see for a specific region, there's a ccTLD associated with that specific information.

So, if they see a ccTLD, they know that it is a strong indicator of a presence in that region, and therefore will provide a little extra weight to it. However, they also have the option to geo-target a specific region through their Google webmaster tools. So, you can get in there and basically work the same thing. So, it'd be, in my mind, equivalent to ccTLD by having a .com and geo-targeting it to users of that specific region. Again, if you want to expand later, you can also geo-target to other regions as well.

They also look to see if the server for that domain is located in that country. That can be an indicator of a presence in that region, for that multi-regional website. Then the last thing they look for is, are there specific phone numbers or addresses on the website that indicate that the domain is specific to that region.

Then, they take the geo-targeted results and they will use the geo-targeted results specifically for users who are opting in to queries from Google in that specific region. So, a user does a Google search, they have the option to search the entire web or to narrow their results to their specific region. That's what Google will show them and that's when geo-targeting comes into play.

Other than that, Google will pick up your website, whether it's a .com, or a .io, especially if it's relevant to users in that specific region. So, I hope that helped. That's what I have. Again, keep the user in mind, what is best for the user.

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