Geo Targeting and Geo Fencing ccTLD’s

I have been meaning to write about the domain extension (.co) for some time now and simply have not got round to it until I read a post on Domain Name Wire where I could not help myself but comment. https://domainnamewire.com/2020/10/13/savs-no-fee-domain-backorder-service-comes-out-of-beta/#comments

Search Engine Optimization.

When registering domain names and evidently trying to flip them one needs to have an element of knowledge about SEO. With guidelines and rules changing all the time one must adapt a strategy that works with Google Algorithms.

A domain name, for example is by far one of the most important known foundations for an SEO-friendly website. Having exact match searchable keywords in the domain name as well distributed keywords in your content and metatags will help with ranking your website. It is all about establishing a brand credibility that users can trust — an authority that people would find relevant with useful information.

Another formula is to register domains with a ‘.com’ TLD (top-level domains. However, dot com domain names are mainly US traffic dominated and the abbreviation (com) means commerce which has been adapted for global trade. If you are trying to target traffic in a specific location for example UK then a dot com would not be an ideal option. Dot com domain names are primarily for international business and global branding. According to statistics, 47.1% of all the websites use a domain that ends with ‘.com’. Dot coms by far do dominate the planet and will get ranked faster than other domain name extensions, I should know with www.ukdomainbrokers.com that forwards to a sub domain of www.ukwebsitedesigners.co.uk yet my dot com is on the first page of Google whilst my dot co uk version is not.

It is a common misconception that in order to secure global positioning you essentially need a dot com domain name. But if you are a small business only targeting locally you may not find a (dot com) domain suitable.

If on the other hand you are trying to brand your business for a worldwide audience then it makes sense to get a dot com domain name. In a lot of cases one-word dot coms are hard to come by and people tend to use alternative domain extensions or change their brand to two or more words.

Therefore, does using an alternative TLD affect SEO?

This all depends what country code domain extension you register the domain name as, cc TLDs may cause a with problem with GEO Targeting. Thus why do people insist on using dot com domain names?

To understand this a little better, we will cover a few known facts.

Some Generic TLDs and Their Association have been associated as Spam sites. In recent years, new TLDs are slowly being introduced to counteract the volume of websites being created on a daily basis.

I will focus on generic TLDS (gTLDs) and country code TLDs (ccTLDs) for now.

According to the Domains Index, there are now about 1,500 top-level domains being used worldwide, with about 31,063,341 domain names registered in a new-gTLD. However there are a handful of gTLDs which are  associated with spam sites, including but not limited to .biz, .info, (.zip),(.review), (.country), (.kim), (.cricket), (.science), (.work), (.party), (.gq), (.link), (.xyz).

By using an alternative gTLDs, there is a risk that your target visitors might view your site as illegitimate or straight up harmful.

According to Google alternative gTLDs do not directly affect a website’s search rankings, however they might influence the audience’s perception of a brand — therefore affecting the brand’s click-through rate.

A domain name is the first thing a visitor will gauge on in a brand’s credibility. Most SEO experts recommend the ‘.com’ TLD because there is a well known saying ‘Dot Com is King’ and the domain extension is recognised all over the world, rather than being beneficial for GEO targeted traffic.

Just take a look at the domains of blue-chip brands like Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft which are worldwide known brand names that would without out a doubt be affected if they did not have a dot com domain name under their belts.

There is however a light at the end of the tunnel to alternative gTLDs: they can help make your domain name more meaningful and industry specific. For example, ‘. tech’ and ‘.io’ domains are now trending for both as start-ups companies and tech sites.

If a user searches for something that they expect from a credible source of tech-related information, they will be more willing to click a site with the (.tech) or (.io) extension which in most cases are located in India as it is a well-known fact that more and more India based Entrepreneurs are starting up in the Tech World as they are taught computer science from an early age as a compulsory subject in schools, going on to be web designers wizards and SEO experts.

Novelty Charm Domains or Domain Hacks.

In some situations, using a specific novelty gTLD can also complement your branding efforts. These are sometimes referred to as “novelty charm domains” or “domain hacks”. These will not necessarily help drive GEO targeted traffic to your domain name, but they may be quirky and memorable and used to help advertise a business’s brand.

Some examples are: www.simp.ly, www.close.ly www.passport.photos www.digital.marketing www.ken.co

If the domain extensions has a country code domain extension like (.ly) Libya or (.me) Montenegro (.co) Colombia, they will be inundated with traffic from those countries.

With a little creativity, even unusual gTLDs can sometimes work, but are not recommended as the default brand domain name, which depending on your location and where you want your traffic to come from will determine which domain extension to use.

Now that we have established that alternative gTLDs are somewhat risky, what about localized TLDs?

Country Code TLDs and Geo Targeting

When it comes to local domain extensions or country code top-level domains a survey revealed that, aside from ‘.com’, people are more likely to trust a domain with ‘.co.uk’ — one of the most popular examples of ccTLDs. The main reason brands use ccTLDs is due to its benefits for geo targeting.

For example, since “UK” is embedded in a ‘.co.uk’ domain, then it is more likely to appear in search results like “uk website designers”, “uk domain brokers”, and so on.

Furthermore, using ccTLDs can influence buyers confidence by assuring the availability of goods or services in a specific location. It also signals that you are a local business, thus, making potential buyers feel as if it is easier to make a purchase from you.

Google Search Console ccTLDs

If your goal in using ccTLDs is to drive geo targeted traffic, you can maximize your success with Google Search Console. In your dashboard, go to Search Traffic > International Targeting and then select the “Country” tab.

Google Webmaster International Targeting

Next, simply tick the “Target users in” checkbox and select the country you want to target from the dropdown list.

Google Webmaster International Targeting Settings

Your domain is now better optimized. However, it is not full proof, for search users from a specific location. This depends on what ccTLD name you are using. If you are using a dot com domain name but only want traffic in Wales UK unfortunately even with these setting you will get global traffic primarily from the USA.

Consider Your Web Hosting

Your SEO efforts could have a negative outcome by a sub standard site performance.

Do look for web hosting companies that offer localized servers. You can also opt for a content-delivery network to leverage a global-distribution network of servers instead.

ccTLD’s Language

Companies also tend to register multiple country code domain names in different languages to help with localized domain traffic, this is because they expect the site to be shown in the native language. For example, if you use the ‘.pl’ domain extension, then your users might expect you to use the Polish language. Also, someone in Poland will click in the search results a domain extension ending with .pl rather than another country code. You can adjust the setting in you Google console to match the domain name domain extension.

Google My Business

Remember to make Google your friend and register your website on Google My Business which will help with ranking a local business, it will also help make your site more visible on Google services such as Maps and Search.

Final Thoughts

Registering Domain names is not an exact science and one needs to be familiar with SEO before trying to sell a domain to a company for example in the UK in most cases will not use a domain extension like .co which is the country code for Colombia. If say the company then decided to implement PPC advertising in no time at all their efforts and budget would be swallowed up by visitors from Colombia. Using an alternate domain extension does affect SEO. The outcome whether it is negative or positive depends on the TLD you choose. Remember that the TLD is still an important piece of your domain name. If you choose poorly, your site may be unfairly associated with spam or overlooked as irrelevant to a local audience. Do it correctly and it can do wonders for your SEO, branding and marketing efforts.

Confusion

Furthermore, you are adding confusion to a website if you try marketing a (.co) domain name for example to a British Business. Brits tend to recognise (.co.uk & .uk) as trustworthy sites and may be hesitant to even use a (.com) let alone a (.co) domain extension unless they are trying to reach a worldwide audience for the (dot com) or Colombia for the dot (.co).

Domain extension flops

The same applies to domain extensions that have tried and failed. Tuvalu for example tried to turn their domain(.tv) domain extension into “dot Television. Western Samoa tried to market their country level domain (.ws),as “dot World Site. Djibouti failed to attract many DJs with their country level domain (.dj) and now we have to contend with the (.co) for Colombia.

Country codes domain extensions matter in terms of driving traffic from the said location to the website you are trying to market. The confusion that a (.co) domain is an alternative to a (dot com) is further from the truth and half the time people who tell you otherwise have no knowledge of Search Engine Optimisation and have simply jumped on the band wagon in the hope of making huge amounts of money from a domain name that has no equity perceived or to otherwise.

Have you noticed when you search for something in the search results you will only find websites within your location so if you are in the UK the majority of websites will be country code extension related to the UK, they can even be precise to your exact location and your home town by algorithms capturing your exact ip location and then cross matching search results more accurately.

This is called GEO Targeting.

A GEOTARGET is a filter that works as a preferred option. The filter reorders DNS answers based on the user’s detected geolocation and sends the appropriate answer based on the user’s origin.

Hence if the user is in the UK he will not have websites from other countries .it, .es, .pl, .co in the search results.

A GEOFENCE filter on the other hand works like a walled (fenced) garden. Only the websites identified by the metadata as allowed to receive an endpoint answer to the query. This filter can be configured, for example, to allow specific countries within a region to get a different answer than all the other countries in that region. The filter removes DNS answers from the answer pool based on configured metadata and the user’s origin IP address.

When setting up filters, select either the GEOFENCE or GEOTARGET filter. They cannot be both and cannot be used in the same Filter Chain.

Why can’t you use Region or Country GEO TARGETING and GEO FENCING together?

Each filter in the Filter Chain has associated metadata, countries or regions, for each of the DNS answers. If you have a GEOTARGET_COUNTRY and a GEOFENCE_COUNTRY in the same filter chain with the same metadata, the DNS answers you want to provide for the GEOTARGET answers could potentially be stripped out of the available answers by the GEOFENCE filter.

What if I need to use both Geo Targeting and GEO Fencing?

The best recommendation would be to change Domain Name Server CNAME records and setup a Filter Chain using both GEOFENCE and GEOTARGET filters.

The example would be as follows:

Change your DNS records, for example: ns2.example.com. Include 2 A records for the domain: answer1.both.ns2.example.com and answer2.both.ns2.example.com. You should also note that A records in the portal can contain up to 100 IP address answers for each A record.

Remember anyone can put up a website and claim to be a domain broker/consultant but not everyone is a SEO expert and will not know how domain extensions work and may misinform you and will not necessarily tell you all the pros and cons of buying and selling domain names.

Here are some links regarding country code domain extensions and geo targeting and fencing and SEO, it’s not me just writing about it…..

Credits.

https://www.semrush.com/blog/will-using-alternate-tlds-affect-your-seo-negatively/

https://www.openglobal.co.uk/articles/135-should-you-get-a-co-domain-name.html

Citation & Credits GEO Targeting & GEO Fencing.

https://ns1.com/resources/understanding-ns1s-geofilters

Most people who run websites have limited knowledge of SEO.

https://ahrefs.com/blog/seo-basics/

Recommended Reading.