In a world filled with more selection than we can handle (case in point: trying to choose a movie on Netflix on a Friday night), we as a global community need little helpers. We need categories and search options, apps and reviews, free samples and encouragement. We need that push before we commit. One more way to provide that extra push that you may not have thought of: location-based domains.
Location-based domains are just starting to be demystified. They’ve always been there, but what exactly do they mean? What are their benefits? And can anyone use them? And can Nicholas Cage pull off a fedora? So many questions. Let’s hash it out.
What Is a Location-Based Domain, Anyway?
A location-based domain is a URL ending with a geographically specific suffix. Any that are two letters are tied to the country they’re from—we call those ccTLDs, short for country code top-level domain. Anything longer than two letters is a gTLD (generic top level domain). For example, the ccTLD .ca represents Canada, while the gTLD .vegas represents what stays in .vegas.
Location-based domains can help guide your audience more efficiently while also giving your company a kick of authenticity. Because there is just so much on the internet, and it is growing faster than the hair on my legs in winter, having a domain that is location-specific will help drive the traffic of that area towards you.
Can Anyone Use a Country’s Domain?
Short answer: it depends. With some location specific domains (like .ca), you actually have to live in or do business from Canada. Others, like .ly (Libya), are administered from within that country but can be bought and used by anyone. Still others, like .io, used to be location based (British Indian Ocean Territory), but aren’t anymore because some locations are just too small to really get their feet wet with loads of websites.
Those examples are all ccTLDs—they belong to specific countries. But that’s not your only option if you want to go location-based. You can also use a gTLD that names a place, like .boston or .london. Anyone can sign up for a gTLD.
Why Not Just Stick With .com?
Well, between when the internet started and now, a lot of people, failed companies, and one hit wonder bands have taken the most desirable of the .com names. Rather than confusing people with a bizarro alternative to the name you actually want, choose a new extension instead. Are you offering a cool space for bands to jam but spacejam.com is taken? Why not try out jam.space instead?
Why Go Location-Based With Your Domain?
Other than creating some pretty nifty website names that are totally specific to your rad business, one of the key benefits is improved SEO (search engine optimization). This is the visibility of your website in a natural and unpaid way.
Want to be near the top of a Google search? Location specific extensions help. If the person searching is in the area mentioned in your domain, your site is more likely to pop up first. Or, if they include a place name in their search, that helps too. So, if you’re trying to attract business in the area that you’re operating, location-based domains are a super good choice.
Making a great first impression with your website is oh so important for marketing, and when starting out, even more so. You don’t have the Coca-Cola name to fall back on. You are creating your own empire without the help of polar bears and a cursive font (or maybe you’re using both, I am not going to tell you how to live).
At the end of the day, location based domains cut back on user confusion and help your audience connect and communicate with you. You’ll be happy, your clients will be happy, your .community will be happy.