There is a very interesting video posted on YouTube.com from Matt Cutts of Google who answered the question about how ccTLD's are viewed by Google especially when they are being used as domain hacks.
Here is the question:
"We have a vanity domain (http://ran.ge) that unfortunately isn't one of the generic TLDs, which means we can't set our geographic target in Webmaster Tools. Is there any way to still target our proper location?"
In the 2:30 minute video, Matt Cutts makes it clear that not all ccTLD's are going to be treated the same by Google:
As the domain space gets more exhaustive in .com, people are getting more creative using domain names like Ma.tt which is owned by Matt Mullenweg of WordPress.com, which is a very cool domain, but is the country code for Trinidad and Tobago.
Many others are using words that end in .es, and we see a lot of startups that have been using .io (Indian Ocean).
When using these ccTLD as either domain hacks or just because they make a cool domain name or brand, Matt Cutts is saying you have to be VERY careful otherwise the domain is going to be treated as a ccTLD and thought by Google to be only targeting residents the country the ccTLD represents.
"You have to think hard, if its going to be thought of as an international domain or a country code."
Matt calls out .co specifically as one which is treated as generic by Google and not as the ccTLD of Colombia.
"In some sense it comes down to a little bit of a call when a domain becomes truly generic, appropriate to the entire world."
"So like .Co, which I think used to be for Colombia. has become a generic like another .com"
"But if you're using an .es for a word that ends in .es or .li domain, which I understand is being used by a lot of businesses located in Long Island, because it's really a cool address, you have to be careful because in the case of .es we are going to think its related to Spain and in the case of .li we are going to associate it as targeting residents of Lichtenstein because 99% of the domain in use are related to those countries".
"Otherwise everyone starts to use crazy random domain names and they lose the sense of what they were originally intended for and that could be a bad experience for everyone".
A MUST see Video for anyone using or considering using ccTLD especially as a domain hacks.
By Michael Berkens, President of Worldwide Media, Inc.. Michael H. Berkens is a member of the Florida Bar, President of Worldwide Media, Inc. which owns over 75,000 domain name, a Director in RightoftheDot.com and writes a blog at TheDomains.com.
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