Country Level Domains
What is a Country Code Domain Name?
If you want to target your audience in a particular country or if a .com extension is not available for the domain name of your choice, opting for a country level domain extension can be an alternative option.
A domain name has three parts that are easier to explain with an example or two:
In the two examples above, you can see parts to the domain name – each part separated by a period (.). The first part is called a subdomain, the second – the primary part where a brand name appears – is called the second-level domain (SLD) and the third part (.com in the above example) is called the top-level domain (TLD) or the domain extension. While you can create your own SLD to reflect your business or brand name, you have to choose from one of many different types of extensions for your TLD.
If a .com or one of the generic TLDs is not available for your business, or if you are doing business in only one country, you can select your country level TLD – also called the Country Code TLD or ccTLD.
More About Country Code Domains
In 1985, the first of the country-code TLDs (or ccTLDs) were made available with domain extensions that used an abbreviated country code — .us for the USA, .uk for the United Kingdom, and .il for Israel. In 1996, more country code domains were made available — .au for Australia, .de for Germany, .fi for Finland, .fr for France, .jp for Japan, .kr for the Republic of Korea, .nl for the Netherlands, and .se for Sweden.
If your target audience is local or if it is important for your visitors because they are doing business with a company that operates in that country, then a ccTLD is a good option for you. Your visitors will feel confident when making purchasing decisions, or considering your website when it appears local, is created in the native language and currency, instead of appearing to operate from a foreign address.
Another benefit of country code is that they can shorten the URL.
For global brands that sell products and services around the world, creating country-code domain names for each region allows for customization that may be needed to service that region.
All other things being equal, search engines prefer to serve a local website when a search originates from a region. A country code TLD can be a simple way to maximize the traffic potential from every country you serve.
Some country codes also mean other things. For example, a television network may use.TV as their preferred domain extension even though the .TV is actually a country code top-level domain (ccTLD) for Tuvalu. Another example is .ly (eg: bit.ly). While it is the Internet country code top-level domain for Libya, it can be used at the end of other names as well. Using a ccTLD as a call to action like help.us or subscri.be is another creative way to utilize ccTLD’s.
Your creativity is the limit too many combinations. Ballistic Domains can help you create your own domain that represents your brand or need. The sky is the limit!
ccTLD Pros and Cons
Country-level domains are most commonly used to target a specific country or region. This lets your visitors know what your target area is. Country-level domains enable you to cater to a particular market and gives you a local presence, even if you are a global brand.
- .com alternative: It’s becoming harder to find .com domain names. Using a ccTLD can be a good alternative, especially for local businesses.
- Regional targeting: With local searches on the rise, search engines prefer to serve local websites. Using a country code TLD can make country-level targeting easier.
- Localization: For global brands that need to customize their content to the countries they serve, ccTLDs can be one solution. You can create content in the local language, use local currencies and payment channels, and do other local customizations even if a bulk of the content is the same as your parent corporate site.
- Creative names: As explained earlier, using a country code can open opportunities for creativity within your site name. For example, if you have a company named “Shop With” based in the US, you could choose the domain name of “shopwith.us.” The possibilities are endless, and having a creative name can help you stick out above your competition.
- SEO value: Having a country code domain could even have more of a positive impact on your site traffic than just using a generic domain. For example, if you wanted to target the United Kingdom visitors, specifically using .uk, could be beneficial. This will help to ensure your business or site is appearing in the search results for the United Kingdom; this also provides an SEO (search engine optimization) value to your site, especially if you verify your domain on Google Search Console and inform Google that you are targeting the UK with the website.
- Site Confidence: if you are targeting audiences in a particular country, and they see the country-level extension, they are more likely to engage with your website because your site seems local to their country.
- Can get expensive: For global brands servicing multiple countries, having different top-level domain names for every country with its own website can mean you have to manage hundreds of domains and websites. This can add up and get expensive fast. An alternative solution to this problem is to have one corporate website that uses a generic or creative TLD and to create country level subdomains (e.g., uk.mylocal.shop).
- Expansion issues: If you start your business in one country and later want to expand globally, a .com or other generic TLD with your brand may not be available. This can create expansion and scaling problems when you want to grow your online presence. The solution to this problem is to anticipate future needs and register multiple domain names, including a few generic or creative options that can be used in case you scale globally in the future.
- Domain Squatting Threat: If you register a country-code domain, someone else can register a .com or other generic domain with your second-level domain (brand name). When someone else registers a domain with your brand name but a different TLD, it is called domain squatting. Squatters count on you buying the domain at a high cost when you need it to avoid the legal hassle of dispute resolution.
Country Code Domain Requirements
It is important to remember that depending on the code you choose to use, that country or region can have specific requirements to be able to use it. If you have questions about country code domain requirements, or how to begin using a country level domain name, contact us today, we can help!
As of 2019, the following country-code TLDs are the most popular with the most number of domains registered:
|More about the ccTLD
|This is the country-code TLD for the country of Tokelau. However, this domain name is also available to the public around the world, even if your website does not target the country
|This is the country-code TLD for the country of Germany.
|This is the country-code TLD for the People’s Republic of China.
|This is the country-code TLD for the country of United Kingdom.
|This is the country-code TLD for the country of Russia.
|This is the country-code TLD for the country of Netherlands.
|This country-code TLD is ideal for businesses targeting audiences across the European Union.
|This is the country-code TLD for the country of France.
|This is the country-code TLD for the country of Brazil.
|This is the country-code TLD for the country of Australia.
|United Arab Emirates
|Antigua and Barbuda
|Bosnia and Herzegovina
|Cocos (Keeling) Islands
|Democratic Republic of the Congo
|Central African Republic
|Republic of the Congo
|People's Republic of China
|Federated States of Micronesia
|South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
|Heard Island and McDonald Islands
|Isle of Man
|British Indian Ocean Territory
|Saint Kitts and Nevis
|Democratic People's Republic of Korea
|Republic of Korea
|Northern Mariana Islands
|Papua New Guinea
|Saint-Pierre and Miquelon
|State of Palestine
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