February 7, 2012 | By:

To .co or Not To .co- It’s Not a Question

During the Super Bowl this past Sunday, Internet domain registrar GoDaddy- one of many businesses with whom you can purchase your website’s domain name -made a strong push for .co domain names, encouraging people to register, for example, http://www.yourbusinesshere.co instead of using .com, .net, or .org, which are the standard “top-level” domains (also known as TLDs).

It’s not the first time GoDaddy has pushed the .co TLD (not to be confused with .co.uk): for a little while it was even the default TLD for searches on their website. But before you go for their sales pitch, let’s do a little background.

What Is .co?

Like many alternate TLDs, .co is actually the top-level domain assigned to a particular country. In this case, that country is Colombia. Countries who have their own top-level domains can create their own rules about who can purchase domains using them. For example, Albania requires that .al purchasers have an Albanian citizenship; France’s .fr requires a local presence.

Colombia obviously allows anyone to purchase a .co through select registrars, including GoDaddy.

Do I Want It?

The quick answer is: probably not.

– It certainly won’t help your search engine rankings, and may even hurt them as some algorithms may favor standard TLDs.
– People may even get your domain name wrong as a result of using .co (assuming that it’s intended to be .com- potentially taking them to a competitor’s site).
– Some potential customers may wonder why you didn’t go to the effort of acquiring the .com version of your domain.

The vast majority of organizations should stick to .com, .net, .org, unless they’re eligible for specialty TLDs (such as .gov or .edu). There are exceptions- if you’re actually conducting business in Colombia, for example, such a domain may provide a local touch. A .co domain might be useful if you want a playful domain name- if you sell art deco prints and you can acquire art.de.co, maybe you should try it.

But most organizations should avoid .co and other country-based top-level domains. Don’t let any registrar tell you differently. Remember: they’re trying to sell you that domain.

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