Today’s Ask an SEO question comes from David in California, who asks:
“I have a .us domain. I just also purchased the .com equivalent. From an SEO perspective, does it matter which one I use? My intent right now is to stick with .us and redirect any .com traffic to the original URL. Thoughts?”
This is a great question and something that comes up regularly. It comes up so often that you can find numerous tests such as this one from Bill Hartzer.
I personally use a country-based TLD (top-level domain) as well as keyword-based TLDs for branding purposes. But to answer your question, we should think about what will be best for your end-users.
Google may favor a country-based TLD for a person searching in that country if there is no better piece of content and UX to show for a specific query.
You’ll also want to check and make sure you have your country/language declarations set in your <head> tags if you’re only focusing on that country.
It is a reasonable assumption the country-based TLD like .us could be favored when the above is true. This is because Google should expect the local language and content to match for the local person searching.
But remember that regardless of the TLD, the page the person lands on has to provide value just like a .org and a .com.
If you’re a publisher and looking for US-only traffic, this could be okay for you. But you also have to think about the user.
Many users know and trust .com endings on a domain. They may also tend to click through at a higher rate because of the .com. The exception, from what I have seen, is when the TLD is branded to make a fun play on words.
I don’t know if either of these exists (and am not checking) but SEO.Agency, Singles.Dating or Broadway.Shows are all fun plays on words that could generate more clicks.
With these TLDs, you can brand a build and develop a destination site, which should be the goal for every webmaster and SEO.
I used to use .me for my personal sites because I had tag lines about the content being all about me. I would match it in the metadata, etc. (even though .me is for Montenegro).
I’ve stopped doing this now but was able to rank sites all over the world even though the TLD is .me.
If you’re not based in the U.S. and you’re wondering about a country-based TLD vs. a .com, the country-based might win out.
If it is a shopping or service query, having the country-based TLD may make the consumer assume you can ship from within the country, making it less expensive and easier to shop than a .com which could be based anywhere.
One final thing to consider is backlinks. People assume .com is the official website and when I’ve done interviews I’ve had to check where they link to since I use a .me.
The interviewer (including major media interviews) will sometimes link to the .com site (which I do not own), even though they say and repeat .me when verifying my URL.
From an SEO standpoint, you can likely rank any TLD, but a .com certainly has advantages.
Make sure you have a great user experience on the website, you get good and natural backlinks, and you develop copy that adds value.
Great question and I hope my answer helps.
- How to Choose a Domain Name
- Strategic Domain Name Registrations
- SEO for Beginners: An Introduction to SEO Basics
Editor’s note: Ask an SEO is a weekly SEO advice column written by some of the industry’s top SEO experts, who have been hand-picked by Search Engine Journal. Got a question about SEO? Fill out our form. You might see your answer in the next #AskanSEO post!
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