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A top-level domain or much better known as TLD is usually the last part of a website’s address. For most websites, their TLD would be .com, .net, or .org – the most common ones. But when we use ccTLDs or country code top-level domains, it changes to .com.ph, or just .ph, .kr, .au, etc. You have a variety of choices as a webmaster for your website’s TLD. Unlike the second level domain where
Your second-level domain or SLD – the domain name or phrase before the TLD – is the easy part since you can use your brand name for it. But deciding between the hundreds of TLDs you can use can be time-consuming. So, how do you choose the perfect TLD for your website?
How to Choose Your Top Level Domain
Your domain name is your brand’s digital and search representative which makes sense that you put in as much importance in it as your other facets since it will be one of your driving forces for marketing and reaching out to a wider audience. Yes, most brands opt to choose their own brand name as their second-level domain with the generic .com as the TLD, however, this isn’t always as easy as it sounds since choosing domain names do have some obstacles if you’re unlucky.
There are instances where the generic .com TLD for your brand isn’t available. So, this allows you to find chances to use a better TLD than the generic .com, however, this also contains a risk where you choose the wrong TLD – this could not be reversed and you have to buy and develop a new domain.
So, how exactly do we choose the top-level domain?
Consider Your Brand
Always remember that if you want to be successful in the digital landscape, your website is one of the most important facets you need. This means that your domain name (including your TLD) is, in one way or another, affects how your audience perceives your brand.
As I’ve mentioned, .com is a generic and commonly used TLD; you can use this to your advantage. Make use of unique TLDs that can attract your audience and potential visitor’s attention. Of course, you need to consider your brand identity. You can’t use an unrelated TLD for your domain name. Let’s say for example, your preferred domain name (and business name) is southsideveterinarian, you can’t use a random TLD like .soccer since it’s unrelated and it doesn’t mean anything for your business. This does not only result in a bad domain name, but it also affects how your audience and visitors perceive your brand/website. But if you use a related TLD like .pet or .clinic is both unique, attention-grabbing, and improves your audience’s perception of your brand.
Lastly, your TLD also affects how trustworthy your website is to your audience and visitors. There are TLDs that can be perceived as unsafe or not trustworthy so it’s important to be wary of this.
Consider Your Target Market
As an SEO services agency, we take into account our client’s target market is important, especially if we’re developing their website. A TLD is important for your target market, more specifically, a ccTLD. This is important for your target market (and SEO) is because your ccTLD serves as a signal to Google and other search engines that you’re trying to rank higher in the search engine’s country-specific version. So, for most of our clients in the Philippines, their ccTLDs are either .com.ph or just .ph for their website to signal the search engine that we want the client website to rank in Google.com.ph.
Of course, there are disadvantages here. Having a ccTLD drives an obstacle in ranking for the international or global search market. But if you or your client is absolutely sure that they just want to target a specific location, then ccTLDs are not a problem.
Consider Your SEO
There are two things you have to remember when considering your SEO when choosing a TLD for your domain name:
- ccTLDs will work best if you or your client is clear on your target market. ccTLDs are not effective in the international search market but are extremely effective for hyper-focused local search market efforts.
- Generic TLDs like .com and .net are more effective for the international and broader market. However, this does not mean that generic TLDs are more effective in ranking in ALL search engines. Ranking is dependent on the efforts done, quality of the website and its content, and its authority in its industry.
Your domain’s TLD isn’t something that you can just decide on without proper consideration. It affects multiple factors inside your website and it can also spell your website’s success or failure in the future. So, does your domain’s TLD matter THAT much in the whole scheme of digital marketing? Yes. The most obvious reason is without the TLD, you won’t have a website to work on. Another reason is when you properly choose a TLD, it can help in your SEO efforts, albeit only by a little bit. What do you think about choosing the perfect TLD? Let me know in the comments below!