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Why a local domain might be the best choice for your business

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When it comes to domains, .COM is the daddy of them all, but is it the right choice for your website? It mightn’t be! Before defaulting to registering a .COM, let’s pause, and have a look at why you might be better off registering a local domain – whether that’s a country-level domain (known as a ccTLD) or a geographic domain (more local still, like .NYC).

Where do your customers come from?

If you get most of your business locally, you’ll need to weigh up the pros and cons of a local domain over a .COM one. The advantage of .COM is that, well, everybody knows it, and trusts it, and it’ll make you look like a bit of a bigshot. Which is fine, but… there are a couple of disadvantages, too. First, a .COM domain will probably be expensive, and depending on your brand name or service, your first, second or even third choices might not be available. That means you’ll end up having to create an unwieldy domain name. Let’s say your business is called Tom’s Fresh Fish. If TomsFreshFish.com isn’t available, you might have to settle for something like SuperFreshFishByTom.com, which is long and cumbersome.

If your business does most of its business locally (which, by definition, it probably does!) then why not take a look at getting a ccTLD, or even a geographic one? TomsFreshFish.nyc will send an immediate signal to potential customers that the business is located in New York, which is useful information for them to have. Just as great: it will probably cost you less, and your first choice of domain name is more likely to be available!

At present, there are a limited number of geographic domains available – like .MIAMI, .NYC, .BERLIN – but if there is one available for your city, it’s definitely worth considering getting one for your business.

Does your business operate in a couple of different countries?

If it does, it’s a good idea to localise. Instead of serving up the same .COM site to everybody, regardless of where they’re located, it’s better to send customers to sites hosted on their country’s local domain. A visitor from Germany is more likely to become a customer if they’re sent to a .DE domain, because the .DE sends them an important signal that the business is located near them – which means it’s more likely to deliver to them, the products are more likely to be priced in the local currency, and they’ll only be served up products that are available in their country. For people browsing search results, those are all important signals to send out. If all you have is a .COM site, those browsers will skip your website, thinking it’s not relevant to them, even though it is!

A local domain will help you build links

It’s not just customers and potential customers who will receive important location signals when you host your site on a ccTLD or a geographic domain – it’s other webmasters and local directories, too. Other local businesses will be more likely to link to you if you send a strong signal that you’re in the same local market; and local directories will be more likely to list you.

As we said at the beginning, .COM might be the daddy of them all, but it’s not the only option out there – and it may not be the right option in every case. The most important thing to think about is where your customers are coming from – and if that’s locally, then your domain should be local, too!

Main image: waders