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I'm the webmaster of an online shop based in Austria (Europe). Therefore we registered "example.at". We also own different other domain names like "example-shop.com" and "example.info". Currently all those domains are redirected (301) to the .at one.

Still available is: "example.net" and "example.org" (and .ws/.cc), unfortunately not available: .de/.eu The .com is currently owned by one of our partners, the contract ends in 2012 but until then we have no chance to get this one.

Recently I read more about geo-targeting and I noticed ONE big deal. The tld ".at" is hardly recognised in Germany (google.de) whereas it is excellently listed in Austria (google.at). As a result of the .at I cannot set the target location manually (or to unlisted). More info: https://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=62399&hl=en

This is a big problem. I looked at Google Analytics and - although Germany is 10x as big as Austria - there are more visits from Austria.

So, how should I config the domain in order to get the best results in both, Germany and Austria?

I thought of some solutions:

  1. First I could stop redirecting the .info. Then there would be a duplicate of the .at one. Moreover, in Webmaster Tools, I could set the target location of the .info to Germany. As the .at still targets Austria, both would be targeted - however I don't now if Google punishes one of them because of the duplicate content?
  2. Same as 1. but with .net or .org (I think .info is not a "nice" domain and moreover I think search engines prefer .com, .net or .org to .info).
  3. Same as 1. (or 2.) but with a rel="canonical" on the new one (pointing to the .at). Con: I don't think this will improve the situation, because it still tells Google that the .at one is more important, like: "if .info points to .at, the target may still be Austria".
  4. rel="canonical" on the .at pointing to the new (.info or .net or .org). However I fear that this will have a negative impact on the listing on Google.at because: "Hey, the well-known .at is not important anymore, so let's focus on the .info which is not well-known." -> Therefore: bad position in search results.
  5. Redirect .at to the new (.info or .net or .org) with a 301-Redirect. Con: Might be worse than 4, we might lose Page-Rank (or "the value of the page", because Google says that page rank is not important anymore). Moreover this might be even more confusing for the customers. In 3. or 4. customers don't get redirected, they do not see the canonical-meta-tag.

So, please tell me what the best option would be!

Please note: It's exactly the same content AND language. In Austria we speak German.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Google recognizes .com as an international domain. You could do things to the .at domain, but you will get better results from a .com domain. I am assuming they are similar age.

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We are going for the .com if we can afford it.. Thanks though. –  Valorized Apr 11 '11 at 11:39
    
I would use the .com, other search engines may also follow the Google lead. Google will not be the king forever in EU. I would spend time on one domain not several unless they are more specialized like cars, trucks, motorcycles. But if they are the same theme, concentrate on building one site. Be careful with canonical. Its easy to make mistakes there. –  Joe Apr 11 '11 at 21:22

It is appropriate to have the same content on both a .de domain and a .at domain. One of your domains will then target Germany and one will target Austria.

Google allows this and does not punish it as duplicate content.

With two websites, your rankings can be higher in Germany and Austria than if you just had a generic .com domain.

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