Do Country Code Top-Level Domain Names Help SEO?

The internet is a big place, and it can be hard for localized websites to reach their intended audiences.

If your site contains information targeted toward users in your home country, choosing a country code top-level domain name (ccTLD) is a simple way that you can geo-target your website and boost search engine optimization (SEO) in a specific region. ccTLDs show users and — perhaps more importantly — search engines where your website is registered and to whom the content is targeted.

What is a ccTLD?

All domain names are followed by a “.” and a few letters (e.g., the “com” part of WordPress.com). This is called the top-level domain (TLD). Almost 50 percent of all websites in the world use “.com” for their top-level domains. But just because it’s popular doesn’t mean that it’s right for your website.

Website owners who want to separate themselves from the pack can use country code top-level domains. ccTLDs are special top-level domain names that are unique to a country. So, instead of being stuck with a generic “.com” website, you can use “.uk” if you’re based in the United Kingdom, or “.ca” for Canadian-based websites, for example. 

Benefits of ccTLDs for WordPress users

If you were a local looking for advice on the best sushi restaurants in Toronto, which website would you trust more: one that ends in “.com” or one that ends in “.ca”? Naturally, Canadian readers would trust the website with the “.ca” ccTLD, as it’s more likely that the info was written by another local.

Not only do users think like that, but so do search engines. Adding a ccTLD to your WordPress site tells the world that the information is geared toward users in your area. There are major benefits to having a country code top-level domain name:

●     Localized SEO boost

●     Market benefits for international companies

●     Better branding and credibility

SEO advantages for ccTLD websites

Making your site more visible to search engines will help drive traffic — and isn’t that what every website owner wants? The simple act of adding a ccTLD to your site is the easiest way to show search engines (and users) that the content on your site is targeted to a specific country or region.

As creepy as it might sound, Google knows where you are. If you do a web search in Canada, Google is going to give you results based in Canada. Websites that have a “.ca” ccTLD are telling Google that they’re from Canada and most likely contain Canada-specific information. Therefore, Google may rank these sites higher compared to “.com” and “.net” websites:

The most common use case for ccTLDs is to “internationalize” website content, and using a ccTLD is the strongest signal you can send a search engine that your content focuses on a specific country.

Imagine three identical websites: example.com, example.fr, and example.ca. They all have the same information, expertise, and trustworthiness. The website with the “.ca” domain name may have an edge when it comes to ranking higher with Canadian users, thanks to the ccTLD. With a country-specific top-level domain, you’ll be working towards a stronger SEO strategy without having to keep up with Google’s ever-changing rules.

Branding benefits of ccTLDs

Of course, SEO is all about ranking highly in an organic search, with the aim of pushing web traffic — aka “real people”— to your website. Having a ccTLD attached to your website will also give you extra credibility with users.

If you’re on vacation in France and looking for the best restaurants in Paris, which website are you going to trust to give you better information: one that ends in “.com” or one that ends in “.fr”? You know the website with “.fr” is based in France, so it’ll probably have more reliable content. Having a domain name specific to your area of operation will help your website appear as a more reliable local resource than competitor sites with general domains.

Is a ccTLD the right choice for your website?

Having a country code top-level domain name isn’t right for every website. ccTLDs work best for websites that either want to attract traffic from a specific region or want to establish themselves as an expert in a certain country. For websites that contain generic content for an international audience, it might be better to stick with one of the more general domain names like “.com,” “.net,” or “.org.”

Keep in mind that ccTLDs are not related to language. If you’re in the United Kingdom, but manage a website in French, using a “.fr” domain name won’t help drive traffic to your site. ccTLDs are designed to specify countries, not languages.

How to get a ccTLD for your website

Getting a ccTLD for your website is simple. Just visit a domain registrar such as WordPress.com and do a quick search to see if your desired domain name is available for purchase. Some of the most popular ccTLDs are:

●    .uk domains for the United Kingdom

●    .ca domains for Canada

●    .in domains for India

●    .fr domains for France

●    .mx domains for Mexico

If your domain name is available, congratulations! You’ll be well on your way to creating a beautiful new website optimized to attract people in your country. Build your website using WordPress.com, and you’ll receive domain registration free for one year with any paid plan!

If you’re looking to drive traffic to your website — and who isn’t?— using a country code top-level domain — or ccTLD — could be just what you need. ccTLDs are the best way to prove to search engines and users that the content on your website is catered toward a specific country or region.

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The WordPress.com Team

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