5 min. reading

Planning To Expand Abroad? Don’t Underestimate Your Domain Choice

When setting up a new e-shop, but also when rebranding your brand, it is important to think about the choice of an extension for your domain. Find out about the advantages of local and global domains, the impact of the domain on SEO or the procedure for choosing the right domain.

Planning To Expand Abroad? Don’t Underestimate Your Domain Choice
Source: Depositphotos

Choosing a local or global domain?

An important step before creating a functional website is to purchase a suitable domain address. Choosing between a local (.de, .nl, .fr, .sk) or a global (for example, .com) extension can affect a business in a variety of ways, and there are advantages and disadvantages to choosing either type of domain.

If you are just starting your business and focusing in one particular country, or if you have no immediate plans to expand, a local domain is a logical and practical choice. However, for businesses planning to expand abroad, it’s important to consider international and foreign domain extensions. However, each domain extension has its own peculiarities and affects not only users but also, for example, SEO.

What you need to know about local domains

Local domains, or ccTLDs, are associated with specific countries or regional territories. Their main function is to allow local entities and organisations to identify themselves on the web in relation to their geographical presence. Local domains usually consist of two letters representing the country code (for example, in the case of France, the aforementioned .fr, Germany uses .de, Poland uses .pl).

Trustworthy, professional, personalised

National domains are more credible to local shoppers than global ones, which can help you attract customers in a particular region. Websites with local domains also tend to look more professional and personalised overall, so it’s a good idea to localise your website when entering a new market. National domains can also make it easier to target your online marketing to a local audience, and there is often less competition when buying domains.

Local domains in different languages and how to link to them

Local domains can be a problem if you plan to create a multilingual website. However, it’s easy to switch between local domains; just place links to the pages in all versions, and your online visitors will already be able to choose their preferred language.

EXTRA TIP: Don’t forget to place hreflangs, which are used as part of SEO and inform search engines which language is used on the site. 

The benefits of global domains

Domains known as global (gTLDs) are not tied to a specific country or region. They are used worldwide and can be considered more universal and location-neutral. Because of their specificity, they do not limit the target audience to a single country.

The most popular global domains include .com, .org and .net, which have a long history, are recognisable and trusted by internet users in hundreds of countries. However, there are many other options in the world of global domains, tailored to different goals and projects, so choosing a global domain needs to be carefully considered.

One of the most popular is .com

The .com domain extension is now the standard for most websites, it was created for business purposes and refers to a business. It was one of the first domains to be considered universal – users often add the .com extension to websites out of habit.

Therefore, any e-shop that operates or plans to operate in multiple countries should have a .com domain extension.

Source: Depositphotos

Domain has a significant impact on SEO

The domain you choose for your website can have a significant impact on its SEO results. If you choose the popular .com extension, you will automatically gain certain benefits in terms of backlink building. Other relevant websites will start linking to the same domain – creating link juice for your domain.

Easier sharing of signals between sites

SEO performance can also be positively impacted by migrating international versions of websites from multiple local domains (ccTLDs) to a single shared global domain (gTLD). In this case, sites on a single domain will start to share ranking signals with each other much more easily than sites with different local domains.

Keep in mind, however, that merging different domains into one global domain won’t always result in organic traffic growth. If only one of the domains has a sufficient amount of quality backlinks prior to the merger, the resulting site with the global domain may not generate any growth at all.

Beware of both false redirects and loss of site authority

Creating an entirely new global .com domain can present some complications. For example, if multiple countries or language versions are hosted on a single domain, they may share negative reviews with each other.

Are you planning to enable domain switching on the site? You should be aware that there is a high risk of generating strings with incorrect redirects. It’s always important to make sure that all old URLs are redirected directly to the new links (not via intermediate URLs).

It’s a good idea to keep both the old domains and the SSL certificates so that the redirects continue to work properly and the site’s authority is not lost.

EXTRA TIP: If you are a business that uses different brands in different countries, merging websites into one domain may not work at all in your case. Also, in some countries, customers prefer to buy from local domains.

How do I choose the right domain?

Every e-shop is unique, so there will probably never be a rule that works for everyone. In addition to customer preferences, it is always important to consider technical aspects. While for some countries and markets a common global domain will be ideal, for others a local extension will be essential for success. The golden mean is often a combination of the two.

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