Google Expands List of “Generic” Top Level Domains and Makes Them Geotargetable

Typically, the country-code top level domain (ccTLD) is just that — a country code. For instance, example.co.uk has content for the UK, and example.com.au has content for Australia. Usually, registration of these domains is restricted. You have to prove that you are operating the site from the designated country. However, some countries have opened up registration to everyone. And of course, some top level domains, such as .com, are inherently generic.

Google uses the location of a site in its ranking algorithms. A searcher in the UK is more likely to see sites from the UK in results. But for top level domains that aren’t restricted to a particular country, Google uses other signals, such as the location of the server in determining what country a site is most relevant for.

Site owners can specify the target country for these generic top level domains in Google Webmaster Tools (but can’t specify a different target if registration of the TLD is restricted to a specific country). Thanks to Googler Pierre Far for letting everyone know!

Google Webmaster Tools Geotargeting

This is a great solution, but over time, more countries (such as Columbia, with their ccTLD of .co) have opened up registration. Site owners with these domains have been frustrated that Google hasn’t supported the new generic nature of the TLDs. A .co could end up ranking only in Columbia, even if the site didn’t target users in that country.

Now, Google has expanded the list of ccTLDs that they recognize as generic. So if you have a .co or .io, you can now specify the country that it should be associated with. (and @dotco is pretty happy about that.) As always, if your site is not country-specific, don’t specify a target country. Google’s index now recognizes that the unrestricted ccTLDs shouldn’t be associated specifically with those countries so they won’t be seen as more relevant for those users.

Great news for owners of these types of domains and for searchers.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: Algorithm Updates | Google: SEO | Google: Webmaster Central

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About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. She built Google Webmaster Central and went on to found software and consulting company Nine By Blue and create Blueprint Search Analytics< which she later sold. Her book, Marketing in the Age of Google, (updated edition, May 2012) provides a foundation for incorporating search strategy into organizations of all levels. Follow her on Twitter at @vanessafox.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn



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  • http://twitter.com/seocharlie Carlos Chacón l SEO

    Well, this is something we´ve been talking lately: geolocation. Just another signal of what Google´s looking for: better SERP´s for users. Thanks for the update Vanessa.

  • Joel

    I hate to be “that” guy, but the country is “Colombia” not “Columbia”.

  • NPires

    That’s all well and good for a single country, what about regions? I’m targeting Latin America and I have resorted at hosting in the US southern states with a .com but still would have liked to use a host in Spain, how do we target regions, anyone?

  • LarryEngel

    I’m disappointed they don’t allow location change for the .st domain. I’d like to set it to U.S..

  • Guest

    is that good for seo?

  • alejandro rivero

    Here the problem is Google’s metaphobia, because there is a well-defined tag to tell that a page scope is international:

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