Matt Cutts, who leads Google’s efforts to root out spam from its search results, has some pertinent advice about the use of country code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs like .UK and .US) as a viable alternative to the .COM space.

In this video, from the website of media company, Cutts says that  memorable .COM names can be hard to come by (unless you’re willing to come up with a new word) so web developers turn to ccTLD extensions. But Cutts says that Google “geotargets” domain names that end in a ccTLD, meaning Google assumes that the content on a ccTLD site is meant to serve the country represented by the ccTLD, therefore search result rankings are determined by how well the site serves that particular country.

So, should website developers bother to get creative with something like Google.It?

Maybe, maybe not; you just have to go in with your eyes open.

According to Cutts, if most of the domain names in a ccTLD pertain to that country, Google will assume that your domain name does too. It would be difficult to attain a high ranking in Google’s algorithm if the ccTLD is widely used for country specific information. For example, using an .LI domain name to indicate Long Island when the ccTLD is for Liechtenstein, and is widely used as such, would result in low Google rankings.

However, certain “generic” ccTLDs – such as .IO for the Indian Ocean – are widely acknowledged to be for worldwide use rather than for local, geographic use.  Google lists these “generic” ccTLDs is here (halfway down the page).

Consider this an important resource if you’re thinking of a new marketing campaign, business, or personal site that uses a novelty domain. Maybe you’re a music buff and want to set up YourName.DJ to share your choice of great dance tracks.  The Charleston, S.C., tourist bureau, for example, might buy Charleston.SC.  And just think of the possibilities for cable and the network sites in .TV.

Josh Bourne

Josh Bourne

Managing Partner at FairWinds Partners
A Managing Partner for the business, Josh draws on his experience with brands and blogs on business solutions for the domain name space.
Josh Bourne
“Cutts” Both Ways – Getting Creative with ccTLDs

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