Should you use a ccTLD?

Although the .com TLD is most buyer’s first choice,
especially in the United States, sometimes it isn’t an option, or actually is
not the best option. So what should you think about when considering a ccTLD
(country code Top Level Domain)?

Your Market

Where are your customers? If you are trying to target
customers in a specific country you may find the ccTLD is actually used more
than .com or .net. This should of course also influence what country codes you
consider. If you’re trying to attract customers in brazil, then it probably
doesn’t make sense to register your domain on .de. Before you register a ccTLD
to target customer’s in a country, do some research. You may find they prefer
it, or you may find like .us, it’s rarely used and you may be bleeding traffic
to other extensions.

Your Use

How are you going to use the domain? Are you parking it? Are
you building it out? Who are you targeting? Although it can be cute and trendy
to use a ccTLD as part of a domain hack (when a word or words are split to
incorporate the TLD ie or,, your customers might find
it very confusing and find it difficult to find your site.

Additionally, you may find yourself with some search engine
optimization issues. Google’s head of Search Spam, Matt Cutts recently stated that
when a site uses a ccTLD, if it is a popular domain in that country and not
really used worldwide or really applicable, Google is going to assume that the
site’s content very much applies to the specified by the domain and when you
change the intent of a ccTLD that site is doing a disservice to that domain.
(You can watch his full answer here:

The Risk

While the restrictions governing gTLDs (generic Top Level Domains)
like .com and .net are set by ICANN, ccTLDs are governed by the local
government. The rules can vary widely and in some cases your domain can easily
be taken away from you because you violated their rules, with your site content
or citizenship/address, or simply because there was a change in regiment and
the new leaders in power don’t think you can have it. 

A few years ago, the site made headlines because Libya
revoked their domain citing Sharia Law. Libya said that, a url shortner
at the time, was being used to distribute porn which violates Libyan law. What
impact would it have on your businesses to suddenly have your entire online
presence taken down?

The other risk of course is bleeding traffic. If you are using
something that is obscure to your customers, you may be losing them to other
sites that have the more obvious use. So for example, would probably
bleed traffic to How much did that lost traffic cost you?

Should you register a ccTLD? Unfortunately, there is not an
easy answer and the answer won’t apply to every situation. Take the time and do
a little research. While the .com might cost your thousands in the beginning,
using something more obscure could cost you much more in the long run.