When you’re thinking of setting up a website for your new business, it’s important to start thinking about the sort of marketing that you’ll be focused on, right from the get go. One of the most frequent questions that we get from our Canadian SEO customers when they come in to start a search marketing campaign with us, is whether or not it makes a difference if they have a .COM or a .CA domain TLD and want to target customers in Canada. So this week, our editorial team decided that we should break down the facts together, and find out the truth once and for all.
What’s the difference between a .COM domain and a country-specific domain?
The short answer to this question is that each TLD has a logical designation in terms of how prospective customers will view your business, and specific TLD’s also represent the business location to some extent.
In fact, search engines like Google are so in love with country-specific domain extensions that they automatically associate that domain with a specific geo-target. For example, in our case .CA domains are automatically associated with the website targeting search users in Canada. This is really relevant to local businesses that want to rank well in a specific location. Here are some of the specific benefits and negative factors that we take into account when designing a search marketing campaign for our clients.
- Clear automatic geo-targeting by all Search Engines.
- The location of your website’s server is irrelevant.
- You can easily separate different websites targeting different countries.
- More expensive domains (Typically $2-5 per year).
- Strict country-specific extension eligibility requirements (In Canada, you would have to confirm the TLD with ICANN).
- .COM is the oldest domain extension, some people are not familiar with .CA.
In short, the .CA domain extension is significantly better than a generic .COM for your business website if your business will have Canadian leads call in, buy something or even book an appointment from your website. This extension takes care of several very important factors that can sometimes hold local business websites back, from ranking well in their community area.
Are other domain extensions better than .CA for ranking in Canada?
Now that we’ve established that a Canadian country-specific extension rules over generic TLD’s, let’s take a look at some other extensions that are popular among many businesses today.
Here are some common business relevant TLDs:
While sometimes it can be really tempting to register a shiny and cool extension to spice up your domain name, there are several problems that can arise outside of marketing.
Having the wrong extension for the type of business you operate can:
- Confuse your users about what sort of business they’re dealing with. A study done by Hubspot showed that roughly 90% of the surveyed users associated a .ORG extension with a non for profit as opposed to a local business.
- Make it hard for them to remember your website.
Most people are used to generic TLD’s (.COM, NET and ORG) alongside some country-specific extensions. So they likely won’t remember something like .IO or even .XYZ.
Are country-specific domain extensions good for local business SEO?
As shown throughout the previous paragraphs, a country-specific TLD offers a plethora of advantages when it comes to your organic rankings and search marketing efforts for your business. The biggest of which is the fact that Google automatically associates your website with Canada, and assumes that you’re targeting Canadians by default. This is a very powerful bonus when it comes to search engine optimization as it solves a large chunk of the challenge upfront: no link building, no manual target reconfiguration, no content realignment and most importantly no battle with Google to finally have them index your site’s geo-settings properly.
So in short, there is a definite advantage for local businesses in using country-specific extensions like .CA when it comes to local SEO.