|International or Regional|
..which is best to go with?
We currently run two web sites, a .com and a .co.uk. The two sites offer similar content, but are seperate independant sites. In a few months, the plan is to merge the two services.
A big decision lies with the domain name, which to keep? A choice seems to have been made to keep the .co.uk address. I think that this is a bad decision, because although we are a well known UK brand, I believe a major reason to trade on the web is the potential of international clients. A regional domain name could be seem as a barrier to overseas customers.
Aside from these issues, I have been promoting the .com name now for the past year, over which time search engine traffic and links etc. have risen well.
I'm worried that as engines become more and more regionalised, only the .com will continue to achieve prominance across the bulk of international engines. I'm worried that a .co.uk address will be confined largely to UK engines, and ignored by German, French etc. etc.
What is the current line of thinking on this, and the potential future issues?
Well, that's a BIG question.
It seems strange to me to appear to contract to one domain.
If anything, you'd want to expand to more.
If the decision is already made, then perhaps this is a fruitless exercise on this one. However, I would suggest that a company wanting to trade internationally on only a .co.uk will build up potential frustration.
It is possible to get listed with a .co.uk in the big engines, however, any local engine will filter out the results, depending upon the set-up.
Really, at the moment, the .com is the best option. Remember, the .com will also be filtered out of local engines. The result is, you need them both. And more too.
Additionally, don't forget, local directories tend to focus on local domains.
If your company drops the .com completely, your competition can buy it up and steal potential as well as current customers. Dotcoms don't cost much, (I've seen prices below $15 per year)are hard to come by, and are easily purchased when available.
It is for this reason that I assume that your company is going to continue using the .com, if only as a redirect.
Living in Europe, I have noticed that people here don't shy away from regional extensions. In fact, Europeans seem to tend to want to work with people in the UK, if they have to work with an English-speaking company. The only possible problem would be Americans. But few American companies shy away from .co.uk companies. After all, if they can afford to look for your services, or search partners, then the UK is not too expensive to treat with.
If it was me, I would keep the co.uk with just say half a dozen pages that describe the products/service/company, optimized, but not looking like the other. I would then have most of the links going to the com, some internal, and a few external even. Maybe change the pages every so often. Keep a strong UK feel to uk.com, to make the poms feel at home, but have most of the links going back to the com.
You get, hopefully, better page rank, and a special UK feel for uk guys, and two chances to get picked up the the SE's.
The uk domain wont need much maintenance.
sorry i got mixed up here.. you have to keep the co.uk right? Then reverse everthing i said! Keep the.com to make the internationalphiles happy, make it small and maintenance freindly and have the links going to co.uk..
rpking, on the surface, the decision certainly does look like a bad one.
We run slightly differing sets of .com and .co.uk sites for two UK-based companies targeting US and European markets. We’ve never felt or suspected any sort of bias whereby US visitors prefer dealing with the .com sites or Europeans prefer co.uk. In the case of the one company which receives almost 20% more business from the US than the UK, .co.uk e-mail addresses are used by sales and other staff and there doesn’t seem to be any resistance from the US market. In other words, if there are market barriers based on domain then they’re probably insignificant.
Surely there are simply far too many other good reasons to keep both domains and if the one has to be relegated then at least use it for getting some traffic to the main site?
Who knows what opportunities might surface in the future? For what it’s worth, having both domains at least gives you the chance to present slightly tailored messages to the different markets.
From a pure traffic point of view we’ve found that the .com’s outshine our .co.uk’s consistently. In the long term everything points to our .com’s taking the lead even further. We’d never dream of relegating never mind getting rid of them.
You have my sympathy if the decision is already taken.
rpking:"I'm worried that as engines become more and more regionalised, only the .com will continue to achieve prominance across the bulk of international engines. I'm worried that a .co.uk address will be confined largely to UK engines, and ignored by German, French etc. etc."
there are a number of national search engines that will only list sites with their own nattional suffix or .com/.net/.org
there is no concievable reason for saving £50 or so and throwing away a significant amount of international traffic to your web site
An update to the situation seems to be that we may keep both domains, and bind them to the same website... then online efforts (ie me) can focus on strengthening the .com, and offline can reflect the .co.uk.
This should just need a bit of DNS juggling and an extra security certificate. So long as there are no absolute links that may bounce surfers between certificates then it shouldn't be a problem...
...except if the engines see the two domains as duplicate content. Any further thoughts/experiences?
Working mainly with European domains, I can say that shifting from
E.g putting the local language on local domains have been very effective. I see a couple of benefits;
1. Directory listings - IMO local directories tend to favor or at least list local domains faster.
2. Spider based engines filtering on domain extensions - simply better visibility with local domains.
3. Linkpopularity - You're able to work on your themed linkpop.
We had a discussion [webmasterworld.com] about themes across different sites some time ago, and the questions still stands I think:
"Are the engines able to tell themes across multi language sites"?
Guess it is a combination of my greater understanding of optimizing and increased cross site linking that made me believe that local content should go on local domains - it works for me anyway.