Country code top Level Domains (ccTLDs) are critical for the success (or failure) of Websites. I started with a .com TLD and even although I specified my prime audience as Australia with Google Webmaster, entered header meta in the HTML (e.g. <meta content=”Australia”>) and hosted in Australia, a large number of Australian visits only came once I changed to a .au ccTLD. Whilst where the Site is hosted and the meta content may matter in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), a ccTLD is a visual cue to actual people as to the target audience; people in Australia know that anything ending in .au is an Australian Site as people in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales know that a .uk Website is targeted at them.
Country Code Top Level Domain gets Huge Growth
It comes as little surprise then that the proportion of ccTLDs is growing in proportion to the total number of top level domains; ccTLD growth is 10% per year whereas generic Top Level Domains (gTLD) are growing at 6% per annum. With 13.5 million new domain names being registered in 2009 and 40% of the total TLD market share being held by ccTLDs, it won’t be too long before there are more ccTLDs than gTLDs. The rise of the Internet in China will also see a huge growth of the .cn ccTLD which will further cement ccTLDs as the most popular of the TLDs.
ccTLDs can be bad for SEO
In the first paragraph I noted how much better ccTLDs are for country targeted websites (or Blogs). But what if multiple countries need to be targeted; using a .in ccTLD whilst targeting Australia, for example, just won’t work (I trialled the domain hack http://eckste.in (a hack of my last name) and got virtually no Australian visitors). So what to do if we have a Blog targeting multiple countries but don’t want to duplicate content on a ccTLD for each targeted country? I reckon that a .com is still the standard for worldwide Websites so to target multiple countries with the same Website/Blog I’d use .com even although ccTLDs are way better for SEO purposes when targeting individual countries.