Speaking for Sweden, more than half of all Swedish sites have been registered in the .com domain and another substantial number in the .nu domain (means "now" in Swedish, Danish and Norwegian) According to a recent government study just over one third of all Swedish sites have been registered in the .se domain - for which you need a business in Sweden anyway. One reason is the somewhat archaic rules for domain names in Sweden, another the fear of being discriminated by major US search engines. Being a dot com is getting big here too.
If you want a handle on the situation i Norway try a search in Alta Vista for the word Norge (Norway in Norwegian, Swedish and Danish) and note the proportion of .com and .no domains on the first five to ten result pages.
For Denmark search for Danmark and for Finland search for Suomi. In Denmark most sites should be in the .dk domain though. I am not sure about the situation in .no and .fi
Generally, you are on the right track though. In each European country, the leading of the purely national search engines are usually the second or third most popular after the national versions of the big ones such as Yahoo and AltaVista and they will either list their own national domain only or rank them higher.
I have noticed that several big Swedish companies with sites in 3-6 European languages register the different languages under a national domain, and the English version under .com or even in some cases under .co.uk
You can do this in several countries, without having a business registered (a.o. Germany) but not in all.
As to search engines: www.evreka.com for Sweden, www.kvasir.dk for Denmark, www.kvasir.no for Norway and www.kvasir.fi for Finland. These are the leading locals and have the same owner - Scandinavia Online.
Whoa, I'd missed this post first time around. That is some interesting info rencke. I had no idea .com was that deep into non-english sites too.
One of the issues here is getting the balance right between the target audience (local/global) and the volume of traffic.
I strongly beleive all the .com engines get the lions share of "international" traffic. I think this shift may be changing as the "big engines" and "big directories" produce "localised" sites. A bit like Yahoo has done, successfully. The locally grown directories have the upper hand at the moment, but it's seen as "trendy" to have a .com
This has got to change, and will change, it's just a question of how long it takes.
Keep your eye on the country-specific domains, if you are targeting business in that sector. register them if you have an interest. it'll help out when the big engines continue to filter results.
In addition to engines good advice a survey1 has shown that in the e-commerce B2C sector, UK surfers are less likly to "click" on a .com listing because of it's association with US based companies.
1Will try and find said survey.
So that explains sew.co.uk. I just didn't realize that countries such as Sweeden and Norway were that deep into .com's when local talent is so prolific. I can understand it in pure english speaking countries (us/uk/au), but not others.
Anyone serious about the Internet has to have a .com address to start with. Local domains come later, when you've dipped your toes. That is how things are perceived in Europe, anyway. There is a good reason why the Norwegian outfit Fast Search has the address www.alltheweb.com and not www.alltheweb.no or www.fast.no (which is used for their corporate stuff). Would the surfers of the world give them serious consideration if they had? They have fine technology and the web's largest index, but I don't think so. Sweden's government financed official site for tourist information is found at www.visit-sweden.com not .se as one might have expected. A good choice, since a com-address can never be given lower weight in SE algorithms.
Also: Thank you Brett for misspelling Sweden: Sweeden. Extrapolating from the first version of your own all-super-report-2000 meta spy file, I figure that 869 persons do the same in SE:s every day. That's 317.000 potential visitors every year for a page that has Sweeden in the title. Now there is finally a name to represent this faceless mass.
Is it worthwhile to buy a dot com name using a different language like daswhatever.com and then create a door and put it up on a German engine lets say AltaVista de. will it get a good ranking?
A dot com with a German keyword in it is a good idea and there are lots of good German keywords avaliable in dot com. If you want even greater ranking in Germany, shoot for a dot de, but the best keywords may be gone already. Germany does not require a local company for the de-domain.
Tip: One of my clients owns an URL formed like this:
frequentkeyword-histypeofbusiness.de It has seven #1 and 11 other page one rankings on German searchengines for the very common keyword. Including ALL of Germany's top SE:s AND AltaVista.com AND Yahoo.de !!! Remember to separate the two words with a dash.
And for chrissake make sure the page you serve is in perfect German or you'll have WWIII on your hands. Lots of translators around though, who can help you out. If you cannot receive or reply to e-mail in German, make sure to mention this on the page with a suitably humble apology, like "Due to the inferiority of the local school system and our own intellectual limitations, we are unable to reply to e-mail in your language. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience that this might cause you."
That is a great idea. I am still in the infant stages of understanding the world of non-USA Search Engines unfortunatly. Can anyone give any advice on how to determine exactly which ones are the popular local engines/portals for specific countries?
MMXI at www.mmxi.com measures international web traffic and has the answer. The problem is that their reports cost thousands of dollars. You will have to piece this together for yourself using press releases and whatever else you can find. MMXI publishes top-ten lists free, so that is one tool you can use - if you have a basic understanding of foreign languages, most of what they publish free is in local language only.
TopDog is handy tool for SE analysis and submission. They have a built in list of currently 232 SE:s, most of them international. 32 of these are German, but only a few of them are really important locally, such as www.fireball.de
Perhaps someone else has more to offer on this important topic. The claim by a.o. Web Position that their short list of major league search engines covers more than 90% of all SE traffic, may be true from an American perspective, but is totally misledaing from an international. As I have said before: a purely local engine (often owned by the leading local ISP) is usually the number three SE in its own country.
I do have a .com domain in German. It is primarily a keyword gateway domain linking to a large German company but has ranked well on Fireball and started getting traffic after 48 hours. A bit different from the interminable wait elsewhere. I did use German keywords in the domain name as specified above and seem to have had no problems being listed.
That reminds me. A client of mine has a .com-site in french with the url in french formed like this:
It has great page one listings in French engines, so the observation by Makemetop seems to work elsewhere too.
Also: Most international SE:s will accept sites in the local domain only, simply becuase they cannot handle large indexes. The better ones, such as Fireball, will accept both local domain sites AND local language sites whatever the domain. So those who want great penetration in a European country should try to get both a local domain address and a dot com in the local language.
The European versions of major league US SE:s appear to rank local domains higher than dot coms in the language and dot coms in the language higher than other sites for a given keyword. This should be kept in mind. Unfortunately many European countries require a local business to accept registrations.
Thanks Rencke. Excellent information!