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I'm interested in creating a domain hack, using the .es ccTLD. If the website does not target Spain, is this advisable? I've seen URL shortening services use ccTLDs to provide shorter URLs, however their main website (i.e. bit.ly as bitly.com), uses a standard .com TLD.

If I do use an .es ccTLD to pluralize an English word for an English website (i.e. branch.es), would this hurt SEO? I don't want search engines (or people, for that matter) to think the website is in Spanish, and to only serve to those who speak Spanish instead of those who speak English.

Any insight you may have would be helpful.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

The only advantage of using a country-specific domain in SEO terms is that your site may rank slightly better for searches from that country. It won't make it rank any worse for searches outside the country.

Spelling an English word using a foreign domain extension won't improve your ranking for that word either, although it could improve ranking for the word stem before the dot (e.g. 'branch' in the case of 'branch.es').

Search engines determine language from the html lang attribute and/or by autodetection, not by the domain extension alone.

It may also make the domain easier to remember, so, on the whole, it can be a worthwhile 'hack'.

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That's what I was looking for. Thanks for your reply Nick! – Akaishen Aug 14 '11 at 15:26

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