Recently, one of my MVP colleagues was tweeting about the problems he was having dealing with a country DNS name provider, and how much it cost. I've thought this for a long time, but it really does make me wonder if there's much value left in country-level domain names, at least for companies.
The Gold Rush
Back in the 1990's, I remember the "gold rush" that happened when people where trying to register domain names for their companies and how intense the competition became. If you didn't get in early, you were fresh out of luck. We made a point of getting all our customers to register quickly. Even then, some missed out on their ideal names, particularly if they were just trying to register a set of initials or abbreviation.
The registrars for country-level domains (i.e. somecompany.com.au) were often monopolies, had horrid customer services, and were charging like wounded bulls.
It didn't take me long to realize that a country-level domain is both a blessing and a curse:
- If you want to have a global presence, it's constraining.
- It might have value if you want to appeal to other local companies.
Stick with Top Level Domains
I decided that in future, I'd mostly use top-level domains (i.e. somecompany.com).
The registrar system has opened up and improved a bit for country-level domains, and the pricing has improved somewhat, but now, I can barely see the point in them.
Yes, I can go to a site like lenovo.com.au but if I visit lenovo.com instead, it's going to quickly work with me based on my location anyway. And sometimes, I really do want to deal with the global company regardless.
One suggestion is that it's easier to get names from .com.au than it is to get the same names from .com as there are less used. But do you really want that type of confusion?
For our own domain (sqldownunder.com), I do keep registering sqldownunder.com.au but I only do that to avoid errors when someone adds .au to the end of our web address or one of our email addresses. But the .com.au domain still costs way more than the .com domain, so it's getting harder to justify.
Does anyone see any other real value in country-level domains?
3 thoughts on “Opinion: For companies, is there any value left in country-level domain names?”
For companies that have a webshop, it could be convenient.
When I'm looking for a certain product to buy from a shop within my country (Netherlands), I regularly google using a query like: ProductIWantToBuy /site:.nl
When all those webshops just used a .com domain, that would be more difficult.
There was a time I would do the same but now, I really don't care which country items come from. I might choose a local one but I don't want my search results limited to that. I'd just as happily buy something from New Zealand or the USA as from Perth.
Also, if I just add my town name to the end of a search, that gets prioritised in the results anyway.