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Canadian .TLD question: .ca or .com for LOCAL Service Business
Planet13




msg:4605549
 9:34 pm on Aug 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

A friend wants to know how well a .ca domain would rank compared to the same domain name but with a .com extension in google.com

Would example.ca domain rank worse in google LOCAL search for Ontario than example.com?

It appears MOST people use google.com in Canada. Is that right? (Her analytics data says about 10-to-1 use google.com compared to google.ca to find her site).

They ARE targeting the market local to their Ontario location (it is a service business).

BONUS QUESTION:

Would you as a Canadian internet user be more inclined to click on a site with a .ca extension over a .com extension if you were looking for a LOCAL business?

 

SevenCubed




msg:4605886
 8:39 pm on Aug 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

From my many years of implementing both .ca and .com for Ontario based local businesses where I am physically located I haven't seen any downside or upside to either. It's really just personal preference.

I'm rather surprised that your friend insists that her visitors come via google.com though. Most casual searchers will simply be redirected back to google.ca if they tried to use google.com. They would have to be technically literate to bypass it -- something the average search engine users are not.

On occasion I grep numerous raw logs from various domains under my control for google.ca vs goolge.com for traffic referrals and .ca wins by 95%+

As for trust, .com vs .ca in results -- makes no difference to me and probably not to most average searchers either.

The only thing I can point out that is an advantage of having .ca is the WHOIS info is private by default as per CIRA practices. So you'll save the 5 bucks per years that so many registrars heap on to make you pay for privacy -- squeezing every last drop of blood out of a stone.

Planet13




msg:4605902
 9:07 pm on Aug 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the helpful reply, SevenCubed:

"I'm rather surprised that your friend insists that her visitors come via google.com though."


I could be reading her analytics wrong. Here's what I see:

57% from google.com
25% (direct) / (None)
< 1% google.ca / referral

the rest is either smaller search egines or referral traffic.

Is it possible that the google.ca traffic is actually "hidden" in the (direct / none) section of traffic?

"Most casual searchers will simply be redirected back to google.ca if they tried to use google.com. They would have to be technically literate to bypass it -- something the average search engine users are not."


Technically literate she is not ;)

I don't think she has looked at her analytics data in the two years the site has been up.

~~~~

One mystery though is that even though she is based in Ottawa, why does she get more clients from Miami, New York, and Paris than from Western Ontario? Half her clients are from Ottawa, the other half are from places no closer than New York.

and I don't see her ranking at ALL when I search google.com in the West Coast of the US.

SevenCubed




msg:4605913
 9:38 pm on Aug 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

I'll try to put aside some time later this evening and grep a bunch of google referrals from both a .ca domain and a .com from my 2 most busy sites and give you so some real percentages. But I'm quite sure the percentage is very high in favour of google.ca

Maybe her site isn't ranking high locally hence she gets "far and away" traffic as much as local? That could explain why she gets high precentage of google.com

Planet13




msg:4605930
 10:34 pm on Aug 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

Thanks in advance for looking into your source data, SevenCubed:

Maybe her site isn't ranking high locally hence she gets "far and away" traffic as much as local? That could explain why she gets high precentage of google.com


That is a possibility.

However, if I look at her demographics BY SOURCE it looks like this (percentage, country, source):

50%, Canada, Google
19%, Canada, (direct)
4%, United States, (direct)
4%, United States, google

(To see the above data I am going to Demographics -> Location -> Country / Territory and then in the Secondary dimension I select Traffic sources -> source)
~~~~

Is it possible that google.com or google.ca local results / personalized results listed as (direct) traffic instead of under organic?

Because when she sent me screen shots of how her pages ranked, it was obvious that she was mixed in with other local results.

SevenCubed




msg:4610100
 3:24 pm on Sep 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

I haven't forgotten about the need to get back to you here with some stats as I said I would. I've just been so consumed in so many different directions I had to put some things on the back burner and unfortunately this was one of them.

Will this info still be of practical use for you or is it too late?

Planet13




msg:4610131
 5:46 pm on Sep 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

Hi there, SevenCubed:

Thanks so much for the follow up! I do appreciate it!

It WILL be of use to me a little bit down the road...

As it turns out, the site owner has decided to go with the .ca version of the domain name as the .com version of her site has so many spammy backlinks, it is basically easier to just start a whole new .ca site

~~~~

Just a general question (more like a muse than a question) for you though:

In the goolge local results that are displayed, all of the site that are shown are .com sites. None of the 7 that are shown are .ca sites.

Is that something to worry about (in your opinion)? Or not so much?

Again, at this point it is probably too late, since they already made up their mind to move to the .ca site.

SevenCubed




msg:4610134
 6:25 pm on Sep 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

Based on personal experience and on observations of other domains -- no worries at all. If it has trouble ranking it's not going to be due its .ca it'll probably be other factors.

Planet13




msg:4610164
 8:06 pm on Sep 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

Good to know, SevenCubed. Thanks for that confirmation.

SevenCubed




msg:4610201
 11:19 pm on Sep 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

This is for one of the .ca websites. It's a locally focused fitness service type of business. It has been around for about 10 years but I just redesigned it and took it live sometime in first week in August.

Traffic referred by google.ca + google.com for last 35 days = 1198 visitors (from server logs).
Breakdown:
google.ca = 1115/1198 = 93.1%
google.com = 83/1198 = 6.9%

Of the 83 visitors that arrived via google.com many of them were from maps.google.com so maybe google runs all maps search (local search) traffic through through .com rather than .ca

I was thinking of that might explain why your client claims to be getting high google.com referrals if they are listed in Local Places but not getting any organic referrals.

Total traffic for that same period from all sources = 2354 visitors (there are a few days missing due to late installation of Piwik Analytics after site went live)
Search Engines = 1110 / bounce = 24.68% - average time on site is 2 min 42 seconds
Direct Entry = 996 / bounce = 43.67% - average time on site 1 min 50 seconds
Websites = 248 / bounce = 28.23% - average time on site 2 min 12 seconds

The high bounce rate for direct entry visits is normal because many of them come to 1 page (looks like via bookmarks, landing directly on schedule page) to check the class schedule for the day then leave right away.

The site gets a lot of direct entry traffic from sources that I can't figure out?! I'm sure not all of it is actually someone typing it into the address bar or arriving via bookmarks (even though they've been around for 10 years but I guess it's not impossible).

Country breakdown:
Canada 2237
United States 93
United Kingdom 4
Mexico 3
Pakistan 3
Australia 3
7 various other countries 18

Canadian Breakdown:
Ontario 2070
Unknown 158 (I missed a few days before installing GEO IP)
Quebec 30
Alberta 22
British Columbia 14
Various others (minor)

Ontario Breakdown:
87.1% of the Ontario traffic is from municipalities within a 30 kilometre radius of the location. It's VERY efficient and VERY HIGHLY targeted traffic that Google is sending.

It might be worth mentioning too that the site had completely dropped off the radar on Bing/Yahoo and was suffering tremendously in Google. It was a mess. Site had an unused Wordpress installation that had been hacked and polluted with pron, site owner was trying to maintain it herself in final days and had created triplicates of the site in upper and lower case (testing testing testing) (the search engines were happy to index it all in triplicate), 10 years worth of orphaned files, there was another live domain sharing the same webspace that ended up getting tangled up with it as a subdomain, search engines gobbled that up too.

It brought me to tears. But worst still was after getting it live for a few days and redirecting and/or 410'ing soooooo much traffic one day owner says to me she didn't like lack of images! I says! it's in intensive care on life support, I'm worried about keeping it alive and you're only concerned about what shade of lipstick will look good on it in its grave?! Lets stop the bleeding then we can dress it up and make it look pretty again.

It's been a month+ now and traffic has pretty much doubled as well as getting back onto page 1 in Bing/Yahoo for many of its targeted search terms. It has taken over spot #1 for many terms that it never previously ranked #1 for. Overall I'm happy with the progress of the patient! Full recovery expected (now I can get some sleep).

Hope that gives you enough of an overview. There might be a bit of a discrepancy by 1%-2% here or there in the numbers above -- I scrunched up some of he stats to speed up the assessment. Overall it's very accurate.

SevenCubed




msg:4610203
 11:20 pm on Sep 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

Part deux in a few days -- a .com with same target audience.

Planet13




msg:4610206
 11:35 pm on Sep 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

That is AWESOME SevenCubed!

Firstly, thanks for the stats and the reassurance about google.ca

And good work on getting the site traffic doubled AND HIGHLY TARGETED!

(Bonus points for having a witty retort to site owner about putting lipstick on it in the grave!)

Look forward to part deux!

SevenCubed




msg:4610207
 11:46 pm on Sep 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

I'm not 100% positive yet but I think the highly targeted traffic is due to implementation of schema.org/localbusiness structured data elements.

I'll have a better idea with a new site that I started this week that is going to have literally 1000+ consumer products listed with schema.org/product markup.

It too is a locally focused, -- a retail business in a very competitive natural supplements industry.

(Bonus points for having a witty retort to site owner about putting lipstick on it in the grave!)

Need to have a sense of humour in this game / on this planet.

Planet13




msg:4610208
 12:10 am on Sep 17, 2013 (gmt 0)

"Need to have a sense of humour in this game / on this planet."


Yes, either that or a VERY vast lexicon of curse words...

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