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Is it Worth Getting Local Domain Names for a Blog?

Speed-Posting@PopularWealth asks – “I’d like to see geo-domain blogging addressed since you ask Darren. I think geo domains, and “local” sites are getting hot again”



I’m no expert on this topic but I do think that there is something to it well worth exploring from my own personal experience. My first domain was LivingRoom which is a .au (Australian) domain.

I blogged heavily on this domain for a number of years and it got a lot of incoming links in the early days of running it and as a result began to rise in it’s search engine authority. What I found was that despite blogging in some very competitive niches (including Digital Cameras) on that domain it got quite a lot of traffic to it from Google. The traffic didn’t come from the global Google but Google.com.au (the Aussie localized version). For a while there the traffic was quite massive (although less so these days as I’ve let the blogs slip to focus more on my main blogs).

Search engines are focusing more and more on localized search and indexing and promoting local search results to users. While less people use these local search tools than the global ones there is still a market and the traffic they generate can be significant. So yes – I definitely think targeting local markets with local domains can be very worthwhile.

Have you got a local or a global domain name? If you’ve gone local, how have you found the approach?

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Steve J says:

    I think it quite honestly depends on your market and target audience. If your site is Australian specific, it of course makes sense to have the .com.au.

    However, if your site has global appeal, there doesn’t appear to be any reason to use the country extension. While the localized search traffic may be large, it hardly compares to what you can receive if you get a high ranking in the global listings.

  2. Freerangemom says:

    Just today was spending time thinking through this question myself. My client, the Edge Foundation, offers coaches for high school and college students with ADHD. Now usually people think of a coach as a therapist or doctor, that they want to search locally for the person. So they might query “San Diego ADHD coach”. But an ADHD coach is different — they provide services via the phone, so you don’t have to meet with them locally.

    Thus the problem, how to capture those people who are searching locally for a service when they don’t need to?

    I’ll be interested to see what other people say on this topic.

  3. abhilash says:

    I think if I am trying to sell products locally or write about something with extreme local focus, I would avoid.

    By the way, How about having both, but permanently forward one to other.

  4. I have a local domain forwarding to my main one – I find that much easier than having a blog on a local domain for the primary source.

  5. Bryce says:

    I’m not a big fan of country domain names, except for businesses and charities. Generally the audience you are trying to target dictates the domain that you should use.

  6. I’ve purchased hundreds of local domain names and I’ve been happy with nearly all of them. Since I focus on a service industry I have call tracking phone numbers on most domains so I can see which ones result in calls to local businesses. Almost all run WordPress and the themes are designed to represent the local area. Most do well in search.

  7. Louis Liem says:

    Does geo tagging contribute much to SEO? Other than having a local domain name, I read somewhere that geo tagging will be widely used.

  8. Ree says:

    I think the hard part with the Australian domain names is that they are limited to those with an ABN as far as I know. This puts me out for the moment.

    I have a feeling that while some areas may be great for a local domain, I also feel that if I start a site with a .com.au (for example) then global traffic is likely to shy away from visiting the site. An exception might be a shopping site where Australian’s are more comfortable buying through a local domain. I guess it really depends.

    Also the cost of a .com.au is MUCH higher than a .com so for now, I have only purchased .com’s for any of my sites.

  9. tony dee says:

    I have had this .us domain for ages and have received traffic and visits from all over the world. But now that I am targeting a specific niche with it now, i am going to target the US more frequently now.

  10. If your site targets a local market, then yeah – but the domain extension isn’t your only option for meeting this criteria.

    The best thing you can do (only become available fairly recently) is to create an account for your website in google webmaster tools and set your geolocation to your specific market (I think US markets can be specified down to the state level, everywhere else, country level).

    You could also make sure that your website is hosted on a locally run server (not using resellers hosted in the US for example), generally you would only need to meet one of those three.

    There is also the issue of geo-tagging your blog and posts etc. which if I recall Darren blogged on only a few days ago (or did I read about that somewhere else, lol)… not something I’ve looked into much though.

  11. I use global domains for my local business site and Google gives me good results in global and local index.

    I say better go global for exposure and have some localized links to your blog to stay solid in local index.

  12. Josh Anstey says:

    Really interesting idea about how the search engines work.

    I guess you are right, in that having a local domain name would be more benficial to the local search.

    It also can say quite a bit about how you are positioned – whether just nationally or internationally.

  13. Trey Meier says:

    I have a local domain name, mostly to be able to have a short URL. I don’t market it as a local site.

    I’m Canadian, .ca is shorter than .com/.net, and I was able to get a four-letter domain. Those were my reasons for a local domain. I haven’t really noticed any affects for better or worse compared to other .com sites I have.

  14. I haven’t considered registering a local domain name, though it’s a great question that can spark many ideas with that focus.

    My only problem is attracting people in my area as well as those who’d be interested in what’s in my area. In both cases, interest is zero.

    Few people around me are avid Internet users, and most seem cautious about using a computer. How about that for living among stone age people?

    I plan to think about this a bit more. There’s nothing that says “local” cannot focus on another area where I don’t live but am familiar with.

  15. Well, I think this doesn’t matter much these days. I know a business blog where I prefer going daily. That blog don’t have its own name even, but get 30M users in an year…

  16. Peter Davis says:

    We have a blogger in the Boston area that I think is a great example, or an exceptional example maybe, to look at. He’s at http://www.universalhub.com – the domain is a play on a quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes who somewhat sarcastically referred to Boston as “the hub of the universe”. I don’t know that it’s a geo domain exactly, but Boston.com seems to already have been taken. ;)

  17. Dan W says:

    Why not have both? I don’t expect that people outside of Canada would type http://breslauartglass.ca/ when they could type in http://breslauglass.com/
    But just because I’m in Canada doesn’t mean that I don’t want the world to visit my blog. It’s so easy to register a domain name so why not get as many as possible?
    wegowego.net, wegowego.info, wegowego.mobi, wegowego.org, wegowego.ca all forward to http://wegowego.com/ for example, so they can catch traffic anywhere.
    But the most important things, IMHO, are:
    1. what can people remember?
    2. .com is still the standard default that anyone would use. I think if you want to run a .au or .ca you should still have the .com forward to your address so you can always be found.

  18. Kelvin Kao says:

    I say it depends on the behaviors of the local users. I’m originally from Taiwan, so I’m going to use it as an example. Something to keep in mind, though, is that while a .au domain normally suggests that the site is in English, a .tw domain usually means the site is in Traditional Chinese.

    For example, in Taiwan, more people use Kimo search (now purchased by Yahoo) than Google, because Kimo was a locally developed search engine long before Google has a Traditional Chinese version. In that case, you will want to focus on that search engine rather than Google.

    In that search engine, by default Taiwanese search pages have higher priorities. So since that’s the way the biggest search engine defaults, I will probably consider getting a localized domain.

    Another factor, though, is the currency. If I were to get a localized .tw domain, you will most likely find the website to be in Chinese, and they tend to ask you to pay for it using Taiwanese dollars with Taiwanese credit cards. Since I reside in the United States, that just adds extra headache, so I might just register a .com domain for less hassle.

  19. Thanks for the response Darren. I own a network of geo-domains and wanted your input.

    Geo-domains, aka geographical domains with city names in them, deliver laser targeted traffic ready to click and to buy. People from that city look up “city name+ service they want” or “city name + state abbreviation” all the time.

    The downside is you receive less traffic than an average site and online social networks can’t help. You likely can’t find a city name+state abbreviation domain available anyway recently, which is why I asked Darren if he noticed the surge.

    The upside however is substantial. If your site represents the city, and includes the city name in the uri, your site will do well in the serps for anything city related. So well in fact that your site will easily beat out the existing businesses in the city. “City name+ restaurant type” is a common search phrase that returns GEO-Domains, not restaurants of that type.

    The reason is simple – a GEO-Domain represents both the city and (assuming you’ve written an article on your cities restaurants) the restaurants where the restaurant website only represents restaurants. Google gives preference to the city+restaurant sites.

    Another BIG bonus, if/when you rank page one for your city – you have a city full of businesses who will be willing to pay you for advertising just to make sure they have competitors covered. Ads also pay more per click in general because the places available to advertise localy are limited.

    Google tried to remedy the problem a while back by adding a map and a dozen store names up top of the serps and they grabbed a good portion of the traffic in doing so. Try typing in “Denver auto repair” to see Google at #1.

    Next try a “smaller city name + auto repair” – no map, aka no google monopoly. Theres where your money is.

    You may have heard about Marchex buying into the local market by snapping up 100,000 GEO Domains and going public on wall street. If only they had picked smaller cities and not gotten trumped by Google :)

    Long comment, sorry, i’m passionate about my county. I own all of the city names in it. One last tip – head to wikipedia to look for city names. a city with 75,000 to 100,000 people or less won’t be covered by Google (yet). Wikipedia gives that info… search by county and you get a list of cities + populations.

    You won’t find a .com anywhere and .net is FLYING off the grid right now. If you owned a .com, you’d be rich anyway – Atlanta.com sold for many many million not too long ago.

    If you own a network of them all in one county – you’ve got a nest-egg for sure. They do still exist but once gone, there won’t ever be more available.

    Thx again Darren, I hope you look into Geo Domain sites a bit more if I’ve sparked an interest :p

  20. jhay says:

    My main blog is ccTLD domain for the Philippines and it’s got quite the decent traffic from google.com

    Of course, google.com.ph gives a better search result rankings.

    I recently bought a .asia domain and will soon launch a blog on it. :D

  21. I forgot to ad, a must read if Geo-domains are in your business future. http://www.associatedcities.com/

    Warning though, every one of the members are millionairs and to get into the club – you need a Geo Domain. Everyone’s story is there, i’m sure you’ll learn a ton of stuff if you read their stories. I did when I bought out my county last year. Best investment I ever made too.

  22. Jacob Share says:

    Steve J has it right, it really depends on your target market. What can be interesting how to react when a less-targeted market surpasses your target market in audience numbers.

    Another reason that local domains will get hot is because the .com and .net ones are “all gone”

  23. Chris says:

    I have a .co.uk domain, but still find that the vast majority of my visitors are from the USA, then the UK, then Canada. I bought it because, as others have said, it’s too hard to find a decent .com or .net!

  24. Rhys says:

    I have geo targetted domains. Most of my readers come from the UK, I have .co.uk fomain.

  25. esvl says:

    I have a .com and target local traffic, the more people linking to your domain from a local in my case .co.za domain for South Africa the bigger your chances for being listed locally. Some SEOs might say something else but this works for me.

  26. Matthieu says:

    For everyone not blogging in english, a local domain makes a lot of sense. You can not reach a global audience if you are not using english, so a global domain has no use. Chances that people will use a localised search is also a lot greater if they search in their own (non-english) language.

  27. xlt says:

    as i have several blogs i have both – geodomain and international domains.
    Fol blogs in English i use .net domain buy for blog in Latvian – .lv.

    though for other blog in Latvian briviba.info i have .info domain (with redirects from .com, .net, .org). and on the other hand i have geodomain freedom.lv which will be targeted to international audience (doesn’t work at the moment).

    still i don’t know the practical differences, as long you can “target” audience to your website in Google tools – you can make google to see your geodomain as international or US targeted (that’s what i’m going to do with freedom.lv) and vice versa – to briviba.info i “target” Latvan audience. As for geo domains the default “target” is local (.lv for Latvia) of course.

    though i have a question to You, Darren, and your readers – is there any difference between .com, .net, .org and .info domains in SEO terms?

  28. I just bought my .com.au. Not for search, but mainly because i was too nervous someone would snap it up! As an Aussie though- the .com.au was important in that regard while I cement myself into the Aussie market.

  29. Allexiel says:

    I do have a local domain name… It was a free offer at that time… and I never changed url.

    I’m thinking of buying a .com domain name, as my blog isn’t really ‘local’! My audience is worldwide and I blog in English, whereas for my country I should blog in French/English!

  30. Fabien says:

    Buying a local domain name certainly has quite a few advantages, more so I would think than disadvantages. Dependant on the niche in which you are in, you will probably find it easier to rank for a set of keywords which would otherwise be more difficult if you had a non geo-targeted domain.

    When you have a local domain name, and you are offering very good content or services on your site/blog – you are probably more likely to gain long-term subscribers from your particular country (.com.au, .ca, .co.uk etc…) This is likely to occur because your visitors know you are local and they automatically have this first step rapport/relationship with you before you’ve even interacted with them – because you live in the same country as them, you have that local connection going on – they can probably relate to you.

    All in all, having a geo-targeted domain name can be good, but it can also be a negative thing considering the fact that Google is veering towards local search indexing – it could therefore impact your site because you probably won’t get listed as much on a more international search spectrum – Google France, Google UK etc…To name a few.

    I recommend getting a geo-targeted domain if you are hunting down people from a particular area (theatre groups, local business development companies etc…) hence the geo-targeted domain. It’s probably not recommended if you are trying to reach an international audience because it does not represent you and/or your company as well, quite common sense logic – but it’s important to remember.

  31. Ed Healy says:

    I am currently working in Bulgaria. While developing the website, we had to decide whether we’d go with a .com, .eu, or .bg domain. The .com was a no-brainer, but we needed to decide if that was going to be the address we advertised and promoted. We decided to go with .eu, since most of the company’s customers are European real estate developers. We decided against .bg, partly because it is difficult to register .bg domains, but mostly because we didn’t want investors to think of the company as Bulgaria-centric.

  32. dinsan says:

    I dint think about this possibility while registering my new domain name. However, I do not want to be localized … I would prefer reaching an international community ..

  33. Funny, I did a post last week about my .ca:

    It’s Nice Not To Be American

  34. Interesting that you would bring this particular topic up. A good bit of my traffic recently has been local. It is really kind of strange since we are not connected in with our local anything but we are seeing a rise in local traffic.

  35. Our domain is a .com even though the majority of the information is related to New Zealand. I let google know it was a New Zealand based website and it now includes it in both the NZ targeted searching and the global searching, so it’s not necessary to have a local domain to achieve geotargeting goals with google.

    I’m not sure what the situation is with yahoo. I filled out a form to advise them that it is an NZ domain and also filled out local forms for all the NZ search engines, so I think that covered it off.

  36. partha says:

    If content of your site or blog is based on local environment and your idea is to communicate with local community, then this process, I think, will be helpful.

  37. I use local for my Adwords campaign on my business site.

  38. It’s an interesting question for me. I have a domain name economicshelp.org which gets 75% of traffic from the UK. However, I had to switch from a UK host to a US host (because the UK host wasn’t giving good wordpress support) and I was concerned that this could lose the UK traffic. I did buy the .co.uk domain and mirrored that to the .org. I am going to also try the readers suggestion of setting country spefiic tag in google webmasters.

    The site has a global appeal but is more suited to the UK.

  39. I think the principles of SEO tell us there is no value because you need to focus and maximise your market-targeted, keyword optimised content at one place alone. Duplicating across other domains will loose SEO points. Registrars will always say get all the other local and other variants of your domain to protect yourself but it doesn’t make any difference. If someone is going to steal your brand and content, then the processes for closing them down that exist today will work as well for someone with a like domain as it would in other situations. Thats my 2 cents

  40. Jummy says:

    My personal site is a local domain, but that’s because the .com was taken and I wanted something that reflected my pride in my country.

    If I was creating a monetized blog though I’d go for the .com version where possible.

  41. redwall_hp says:

    Note that Google de-emphasizes local domains for people in other countries. A .us domain will not rank anywhere near as high if a searcher is from Canada. Have you noticed that if you are visiting another country and type Google.com, you are taken to Google.xx, where “xx” is a country-level TLD for the country you are currently in.

  42. David says:

    I have a variety of local domains and others which are not. With local domains and for certain countries, rankings come quite quickly (for the specific google from the same country as your local tld) but the potential is more limited also. So if you are targeting a specific country, a country tld should give you a much more targeted traffic and much quicker.

    I am doing a couple of experiments to understand this better.

  43. Reginald says:

    Thanks for the update. The virtual industry standards are adjusted at an amazing speed. It’s becoming quite a task to stay abreast of everything.

  44. Tejvan Pettinger, I think I am right in saying that Google will penalise you for duplicated content. IMO, there is no point in running the same site on two domains, its a red herring. Just choose one domain and maximise your content on that one for the benefit of your targeted market wherever they are in the world.

    If anyone disagrees I would be pleased to hear other’s opinions.

  45. Shawn says:

    Localization is only really relevant for people targeting a local market. I find that for sites I want international exposure for I host off shore, as well as use .com

    For local stuff I host local and use a local domain.

  46. I guess one way to use the local and other domains is to create small websites that link to your main site. The risk here is that you will look like a link farm and be penalised I would imagine, but Im not sure. I have a number of sites that link to my main site. For instance, kesseny.com is my company name and although the content is out of date, it gives a link to my main business site: http://www.ambientmusicgarden.com for which I also have a static site at the .net version. However I do then risk a duplicate content penalty so I need to change that anyway….

  47. sami says:

    if i knew that before, i would purchase a local domain even though they are more expensive.like double

  48. Reginald says:

    Actually, Guy On Midlife Crisis, it appears to lack logic to run two identical sites. It’s such an obvious waste of valuable time and repetitious content.

  49. Hi Reginald, yes, my comment dated April 26th, 2008 3:21 am said exactly the same. I have a few misc sites (company name as opposed to trading name for example) that I intend to keep, and have a small page rank. So they are useful for contextual keyword linking.

    Other than that, the penny dropped for me when I was creating a site for free products when I realised I could just add this to my site for paid products and grow traffic and profile and maybe even convert a small number of visitors who were looking for free to a paid version instead (sometimes I’m a little slow on the up-take.)

    All that, plus the added content in the appropriate keyword. So within reason if it is the same customer and market there seems to me to be no reason why you would want to spread your efforts across multiple domains. Taking the choice of one site at PR5 over 5 sites of PR 1 I know what we would all aspire too :O) (if not already there!!!) I wish!!

  50. Reginald says:

    Thanks, Guy in Midlife crisis!