Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is a familiar term to almost anyone who owns and operates a website – especially a website that is used for business. This is what puts your business in front of internet users and what keeps bringing in new customers; however, some website owners make the mistake of only focusing on Meta tags and keywords during their SEO efforts. On the contrary, there are actually many aspects of Search Engine Optimization that should be considered when one is marketing a website. One such important, and often overlooked, consideration is a country-specific top-level domain extension.
Why These Extensions Make For Good Business
When you are trying to attract an international audience, a good way to do so is to translate your website into (at least) a few of the most often used foreign languages around the globe. But in order to attract as many international customers as possible, you need to take this strategy a step further by attaching the translated website to a URL containing a country-specific top-level domain, a TLD, extension.
Consider this: Each country has a customized form of Google just for them, such as www.google.co.uk for internet users in the United Kingdom. As expected, many internet users from foreign countries, especially those not fluent in English, are likely to utilize the Google search engine specific to their country (as opposed to the one found at good ‘ole www.google.com). This is for two reasons:
- These country-specific search engines are more likely to feature websites written in a user’s native language. This means that internet users in a non-English speaking country won’t have to wade through a bunch of English-based websites just to find what they are looking for, in a language that they can easily understand.
- They can find relevant content, which is targeted directly at them, and nearby merchandise vendors with greater ease. Many times those of us from English-speaking countries can forget how alienated non-English speakers can feel when searching a World Wide Web of English-based content. It can be a much friendlier place when all the articles that pop up are in your own language.
The frequent use of these county-specific search engines is just one of the many reasons why using a country-specific top-level domain extension is an essential component to targeting an international audience.
There are also two important SEO-related benefits that you gain from when using this kind of domain extension: these domains will be ranked higher than normal dot-coms in country-specific search engines and the owners of these domains will then have the opportunity to be included in exclusive county-specific website directories.
Ranking Higher in Country-Specific Search Engines
The ability to rank highly in country specific search engines is one of the best methods for growing a large international customer base. Although you can get a normal dot-com name ranked and included in country-specific search engines, you will likely not get the kind of results that you expect. This is because country-specific search engines give greater priority to those websites that use the two-letter top-level domain extension specific to their country, which will produce friendlier search listings for internet users in that country.
Of course, as with any search engine (no matter what language it serves), the higher your website ranks, the more “hits” you are likely to receive. This raises the percentage of interested buyers who will land on your page, which will result in more sales and a higher ROI; all equaling a larger profit for your business. It is also the first step to international brand awareness for your company.
Inclusion in Exclusive Country-Specific Web Directories
Having a country-specific top-level domain extension also gives you the eligibility to be part of exclusive country-specific web directories, where one of the main requirements for inclusion is that you use the two-letter top-level domain name extension specific to that country. Many people in foreign countries choose to use these web directories in place of English-language directories for the same reason they choose to use search engines that are specific to their country: because it results in friendlier search listings for internet users in that country.
Inclusion in these directories is a great way to be discovered by customers from around the world who use these directories to find what they are looking for and to again rank even higher with search engines, since they place greater value on websites that have been accepted into their web directory. It may also help get your websites indexed by these search engines more quickly. All the additional benefits of English-based website directories still apply, including the SEO benefits that come from these one-way links and customized anchor text, as well as the marketing and budget benefits of free, targeted website traffic.
Failure to use a country-specific top-level domain extension for your translated websites may result in slower international growth for your business. The practice of giving your translated websites a country-specific top-level domain extension should be as important to your business as any other SEO strategy. Then, and only then, will you be able to target and receive the type of international attention that your company needs to flourish in a global market place.