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Should You Use a Localized Domain Name?

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?

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. Good subject,
    I’m on target to start the USA’s first regional Chamber of Commerce–which will have a site but start as a blog with the accepted regional name.com/org that covers a small area of four states. (Being in the mid-Atlantic USA with the small states in a contained geographical region makes it a no-brainer.)

  2. Dale says:

    The sole reason back in 2002 I went for a .com domain, was that I loathed the local domain name register at the time (MelbourneIT?). I think I could have gotten a better domain name though. :-)

  3. Jacob Stoops says:

    I agree. Localized domain names are really only worth it if you’re trying to gain local exposure, or if you only service a specific geographical area. Being from the US, what I wonder is how many Australians use http://www.google.com.au versus http://www.google.com? I think that could be a deal-breaker to see which has the ability to pull more traffic and results.

  4. ITrush says:

    I’d go for the .com domain. You’re right.. I agree that it’ll just create confusion and worst is that, instead of going to your site, they’ll end up to other site if they don’t type the address correctly.

  5. Pin says:

    It is a name, the values are on the business

  6. Being Canadian, I typically try to have both. I recently registered a domain name for a blog about local sights and activities. I could only secure the .ca version but may take a run at the .com version.

    I agree with you – .com is definitely the way to go UNLESS your core goal is to focus on local advertisers and readers. Recently, I was in a meeting with a potential sponsor for one of the sites that I’m consulting for. The sponsor is a major internationally recognized brand who has a division in Canada and the US and elsewhere. Our meeting was with the agency who represented the Canadian arm.

    The sponsor was very concerned about the overlap of impressions between the Canadian and US users. They wanted to ensure that their marketing efforts were in front of the right eyeballs since there are completely different campaigns running in different markets.

    You can’t really control which people are visiting your site. However, like you said, getting a local domain is really important if you want clearly show that you have a local focus.

  7. moonwalker says:

    i more prefer to use .com its more general. and more credibility.

  8. Great post. Either way, it provides some food for thought about what your approach should be in regards to domain names. Thanks!

  9. Peter says:

    Living in Central America I have tried a few times to use a local domain name with very bad results. I fully believe that the .com is the way to go because of the lack of confusion in driving traffic to your sites.

  10. hokya says:

    does it like Top Level Domain ?

  11. You didn’t mention .info as a TLD. I have heard sooooo many times that .info is not a good choice. I have used .info several times and noticed no difference in response,( or lack of), than if using a .com. I believe that your content plays a big role as to whether or not any one particular TLD works or not.
    Thanks
    Holly

  12. pertm says:

    Since the blog I am thinking about is not in English, having .com is not so useful, anyway if I ever do an English blog about the same theme, it would need another name.

  13. Adrian Chira says:

    As you see, I have a local domain name and I share your experiences. I also have some romanian blogs and for them having a local domain is paying back, especially because they are written in the local language. So if you search either in google.ro or pages written in romanian or pages from Romania they are ranking very well. Lesson learned: first analyze your audience and then get your domain name. For international audience is better to have a not so catchy name but with a .com extension than having a catchy name with other extensions. I also have some counter examples like bit.ly or tr.im but here you have another reason to have them with another extension than .com (the number of letters of the site name is critical so they need to be 2 letter extensions and on top written like this they mean something).

  14. Mike says:

    I personally like .com domains.They are well known and more trustable. People are not yet used to .ws or .net.

  15. Wp templates says:

    I dont use any local domain name for my sites. I have not really thought of using any other tld. I prefer .com domain. However I would use .net or .org if .com is taken.

  16. KA says:

    Like what Darren says – local domain names appeal better to the local audience. However, it would be very useful to buy the .com and just redirect the traffic and emails. Just in case people forget (and they do, very regularly)

  17. Yes if you want to sell your products to the local market and want to target your local people than you should go for local domain. Because at that point selecting .com is not at all advisable.

  18. jeux virtuel says:

    I’ve always thought that more localized web sites on the Internet are going to be big money in just a few years, especially with the relevancy of local broadcast TV networks getting lower and lower and newspapers business model dying quick. A web site that could combine local news in the form of podcasts, articles, and weather reporting could make some big money and be something a lot of people would visit…

  19. Jinoe says:

    I agree that localized domains worked well for a local audience. My .ph has been doing well and it gave strong attachment from my readers to associate themselves as a member of the site. I had a problem with others looking for the .com or the .com.ph but eventually, they learned.

  20. I ran into the problem that my desired domain name was already taken. So I decided to go with the next best thing which to me was my South African domain .co.za…

    My justification for this was that I’ve often seen localized domains ranking pretty high amoung .com search engines and figured that if my content was good I wouldn’t have a problem ranking.

    I’m starting to think though that I should have gone with a .net or the like because my audience is extremely international and I also wish my site to be international.

    Does anyone have any recommendations for this predicament? The people that are using MY .com (haha) are a coaching business so I guess perhaps they’re more legit than my article site.

    Would it be advisable to get a .net or to find a very similar name as a .com?

  21. Maybe a localized domain name is good for a static website, but I think a blog need an “easy to remember” domain name. Choosing a domain like problogger.co.id as a blog’s domain will make your readers hard to remember it. I think you must choose carefully what domain name that will be used for your blog.

  22. Localised domains do exactly what you say and perform better in their own territory. Something else to consider is the link equity associated with the blog/site and how the origins of those links can affect local and international rankings.

  23. B says:

    I hadve purchased non “.com” domain names in the past and have found that
    1) They don’t seen to rank as well in the Google’s organic search rankings
    2) People will automaically assume the extension is .com, and I end up directing traffic to a competitor.

    I would rather get a longer .com domain name, than a shorter domain name without a .com extension.

  24. Localized domain name works great if we are looking localized visitors, but if we do internationally work than domain not good for that, it’s great if we are using local name in our title of page like ( usa service at your door step ) with .com domain.

  25. moonwalker says:

    i wish im also have my own domain..someday,im use the blogspot as my starting.

  26. umar says:

    I am using paid domain name on free hosting

  27. will says:

    Im wondering if I should do seo work on domains im trying to sell like http://www.firstbabystore.com? also if I have a blogger blog and I buy a domain for it can I then sell it?

  28. thepadi says:

    I prefer .com because it is easiest to remember for everyone and easier to index by search engine.

  29. Minor point: what you call a non-local domain is more formally known as a Top-Level Domain (TLD), while a local (.au, .ph, .de etc) is a country-code Top-Level Domain (ccTLD).

  30. The truth is most people search locally when looking for goods and services. Targeting your website in a specific region will bring you more targeted customers who are ready to buy from you.

  31. Hristo says:

    I think .COM and local are both very important.
    Check for some deals at http://domainshostingandmore.com/