I’m regularly asked about local domain names and whether they are worth using on a blog.
My answer usually revolves around the question of ‘what audience are you trying to reach?‘ Let me explain.
When I first secured my own domain name I chose a .au (Australia) domain without really giving much thought to it. I figured as I was an Aussie I might as well include that in the domain and as the .com version of the domain was taken I though it was the next logical step. That was a naive decision and one that I regretted later (although it did have some benefits too).
There were a number of impacts of having a local domain:
- the blog ranked relatively well in Google.com.au’s results – being an easily identified Aussie site it seemed to get priority when Aussies were searching for terms related to it
- the blog didn’t rank as well on Google.com - .com domains (and other non localised ones) seemed to get ranked higher in other international versions of Google
- confusion with readers - time and time again I heard from readers that they kept forgetting to add the .au. As a result they ended up on other sites and some gave up on even coming to the site.
Ultimately it was a mistake for me because my goal was to connect with an international audience rather than just and Australian one. I ended up with some good Aussie search traffic which was nice but it could have ranked better internationally which probably cost me traffic.
Take Home Advice: As a result, I generally advise people to go for a local domain name IF they are trying to reach a local audience. If you’re looking to connect with an international audience go for the .com or another non localised domain like .net or .org (.com is my #1 preference though).
The other reason to get a localised version of a domain in addition to the .com is as a defensive move OR if you think you might produce a local version of your blog at some point in the future. Having the local domain means someone else can’t get it and it gives you the option of expanding into local markets (as Gawker blogs have done with some of their more popular blogs).
Do you use a local domain name? What are the advantages or disadvantages from your perspective?