First of all, let me define a few acronyms for you (seriously, fellow writers, this is a must!). TLD stands for top level domain. TLDs can also be referred to as domain extensions and an example of the most well-known TLD is, of course, .COM. .COM is considered a gTLD or a generic top level domain, which means that it doesn't have any geographic or country-specific use, aka it's generic (see what they did there). A ccTLD stands for a country code top level domain. Each country has been given their own specific domain extension to represent them; for example, the US has (shocker!) .US. All ccTLDs are two letters and they're based on the International Organization for Standardization's (ISO) 3166-1 alpha-2 country codes.
Despite the fact that ccTLDs are meant to be used within their corresponding country, many have found other uses. One great example of this .ME, which is Montenegro's ccTLD. After Montenegro declared its independence in 2006, its original ccTLD, .YU, was replaced by .ME (seriously, I'm not making this up). Since a domain name with the word "me" in it has the potential for many uses, the government decided to market it for more generic use. As a result, .ME has become popular around the world for personal websites, blogs, start ups, and more. .ME also allows registrants to get creative by either using the word "me" to create a fun saying or by using it to spell out a word. For example, comeandget.me or aweso.me are both .ME domain hacks. Need more reasons to register a .ME for "YU"? Check out last week's blog featuring 5 reasons to fall in love with .ME!
So, .ME may consider itself to be a gccTLD, but the real question is: does Google? In fact, the answer is yes. Over the years Google has added several ccTLDs to its list of 'generic' domain extensions. In their own words, "Google treats some ccTLDs (such as .TV, .ME, etc.) as gTLDs, as we've found that users and webmasters frequently see these more generic than country-targeted." As I write this, there are two regional domain extensions and nineteen country code domain extensions on the list.
Now, what does this mean for you, as a potential registrant? As you may know, Google geo-targets search results, which means that they tailor your search results to your location. As a result, many ccTLDs are targeted to rank better within their home country. In Google Engineer Matt Cutts' own words, "most domains at a country level do pertain to that specific country and so we think that that content is going to be intended mainly for that country." This is especially true for ccTLDs that are heavily used for their original intent, which is to say heavily used by websites within that country. Registering your website on such a ccTLD, but using it for an entirely different intent is less likely to result in good rankings.
That being said, Google recognizes that not all ccTLDs are intended for use within their home country and for that reason, they have a list of ccTLDs that they consider generic, hence the acronym gccTLD. These gccTLDs are not limited when it comes to SEO and instead are seen by Google in the same way as a website on .COM or .NET. So, if you are considering starting your website on a more unique domain extension, take a look at Google's list of 'generic' domain extensions where you might just find the right domain extension for that perfect domain name you've been searching for.
Curious which gccTLDs Dynadot supports? Check out our list below:
We also support both Regional TLDs .EU and .ASIA.
Post by Robyn Norgan
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What is a gccTLD? Learn More About the ccTLDs That Google Treats as Generic
Feb 11, 2014 • 4 min read