One of the most difficult decisions business owners face when constructing a website is the choice of domain name. This is intricately tied to your brand, so it’s imperative you get in right from the very beginning.
Apart from the ideal domain name, another choice to consider is the domain extension. To some extent, your domain extension signifies the seriousness of your brand and its acceptance by the public.
In the family of domains, .COM is the father of them all, but that doesn’t make it the right choice for your website. Apart from the near impossibility of getting your choice of domain name with a .COM extension, your small business may have problems targeting local customers, should you succeed in acquiring one.
Where are your customers from?
It’s safe to assume that the majority of a small business’s customers come from the country where that business is located. If this is true for you, then you’ll need to weigh up the pros and cons of opting for a .COM domain extension over a local one.
Of course, everyone knows and trusts .COMs and having one will make you feel like a ‘big gun’ in the industry. This is all well and good, but there a few considerations you should have in mind if you want to succeed as a small business servicing a local clientele.
A .COM domain extension will probably be expensive. As a small business, saving on expenses should be part of your priority. Also, as previously pointed out, it can be near impossible to get your desired domain name with a .COM extension. In this situation, you may be forced to settle for a name that does not really reflect your brand.
For example, if your business is called Brady’s Computers and you cannot secure bradyscomputers.com, you may be required to go with something like theoriginalbradyscomputers.com, which is a mouthful and rather cumbersome.
If your business actually does the bulk of operations within the country where it’s located, then a better option might be to consider acquiring a country code domain name. Bradyscomputers.co.nz will send an immediate signal that yours is a New Zealand-based business for customers of that country. It will immediately and clearly identify your business to customers and search engines alike that you are a business based in New Zealand.
Not only will it will cost you less, but local customers will be willing to do business with you, because they know you can easily be reached should they encounter any problems. This is not possible with international businesses.
Benefits of a local domain name to your small business
It strengthens your local brand
If you have a business that caters to local customers, a .CO.UK extension for UK, or a .CO.NZ extension for New Zealand will help customers find you in these locations. A country domain extension signifies your local presence and strengthens your brand. This is very important if you offer products and services that people would prefer to obtain from suppliers nearby; for instance, plumbers, bakers, restaurants, builders and repair shops.
Research conducted shows that people are willing to trust and do business with websites that use a local domain or ccTLD such as .CO.UK, .CO.NZ, or .FR
It will help with website visibility
Experts from openhost.co.nz say that for any website to rank high in relevant search results, a local domain helps make it easier. While a lot of things could change in relation to Google’s search algorithm, it will never fail to serve the most relevant search results to its users.
For instance, if someone runs a search query for auto repair shops in Auckland, Google will give priority to repairers in Auckland and its environs. Having a country code domain helps Google identify you as a local business and subsequently ranks you high for relevant local search.
It can reduce your marketing budget
Using a country code or local domain name extension for your small business can significantly lower your spending on adverts and marketing. One study showed that moving over to a local domain name helped reduce the PPC advertising cost for a local website. To a large extent, these domains can improve your business quality score, which will in turn lower costs. High quality scores and lower cost per click means more leads and more conversions, with lesser budget.
It will help you build strong backlinks
Over the years, backlinks have been touted as a very effective way of driving traffic to websites. Using a country code domain name for your local business website does not only send signals to potential customers and search engines, but other website owners and business directories also see you as a credible organization.
Local businesses will be very willing to link to content on your website if you send a strong signal that you offer quality content in the same niche or local market. Local directories will also be more likely to add your website to their list of businesses if you obviously cater to a local market.
If you are a local business that has a website with a .COM extension, you should consider going for one that identifies with your target market. Even though a .COM is very popular, it’s not the only domain option available and may not be ideal for your type of business. The important thing is to consider where the bulk of your customers derive from, and use a domain that appeals to them.