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There have been a few questions on subdomains and their impact on SEO, mostly in comparison to subfolders. The closest I've found is this question but it still doesn't completely answer my query.

I'm setting up a blog for 'Sam Smith'. It's imperative the SEO is based around his full name as he is a prominent blogger and his name is his value. All ccTLD variations of 'samsmith' (samsmith.com, samsmith.cc etc) are taken. However there has been the opportunity to register an obscure ccTLD for 'smith'. In regards to SEO value purely from the URL...

1) Will there be any negative SEO implications on searches for 'Sam Smith' when setting up the subdomain as 'sam.smith.' compared to a more regular 'samsmith.' domain? Will a search engine recognise the subdomain as the full name as oppose to just 'smith'?

2) Are there any negative SEO implications with an obscure ccTLD. For instance if Sam Smith was a prominent blogger in Canada with most of his audience based there, would there be any negative SEO if he had, for example, a .co ccTLD.

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3 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted
  1. Doesn't matter either way. Put your users first and choose whichever you feel is easiest to read. From a search engine's point of view, any difference will be negligible.

  2. Google says that ccTLDs are a factor in geotargeting content, but that's the only "technical" indication they pay attention to (with the exception of GWT settings and their rel="alternate" markup). By far the biggest factor is the content itself. So, while a ccTLD for a country you don't want to target isn't ideal, it won't kill your project. Plenty of globally popular sites use ccTLDs to make cute domain names. In fact, Google is pretty bad at targeting content to a specific country even if you want it to.

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Here's my opinion:

First of all, it's important to buy domain name in relation to a brand. But in your case, brand is a person's name. Thus, I think is a good idea to buy domain name with "Sam" or/and "Smith". Did you try sam-smith.tld?

  1. My first point will be to say that keywords in URL aren't as important as you believe. There is no difference between samsmith.tld and sam.smith.tld for SEO. For instance, Googlebot considers this as two different websites. A subdomain is a website like a root domain name (samsmith.tld). So, if you choose something like sam.smith.tld, it's no big deal and you could rank in Google like samsmith.tld on 'Sam Smith' searches.
  2. Google might give a little benefit to a localized TLD from international searches. For example, if Canadian people search 'Sam Smith', I think it's preferable to have a .ca TLD but it's just a SEO point among thousands. However, if your target is Canada, it's important to be hosted by a server in Canada, think about it.

In conclusion, you can use sam.smith.co if you want and without negative SEO implications. If you find sam-smith.tld with TLD you want, choose it. Otherwise, sam.smith.tld may be good.

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I'm not crazy about a sam.smith subdomain but that is just a gut feeling; 'www' is a subdomain too (I am not crazy about the wasted characters of 'www' either).

Specifically, you can go into Google Webmaster Tools, and presumably others, and set up a 'target' country or something to that effect. The language specified will also take on more importance but look at http://Web.md. .md is the ccTLD for Moldova, I am decently educated and travelled and I have no idea where Malodva is, but I bet you recognize Web.md as a domain name.

Using less common TLDs isn't a big deal as long as you take steps to address the implicit assumptions therein. Specify a geo target and a language. Beyond that, if he is a well-known blogger, he can certainly blog about, link via social media and otherwise propagate the link and then things will be fine.

I'd probably also use schema.org (or other Semantic Web) markup to indicate the 'formatted name' of the blogger in question.

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Geotargeting in Google Webmaster Tools can only be used on gTLDs, and certain ccTLDs they choose to view as gTLDs: support.google.com/webmasters/bin/… –  GDav Nov 26 '12 at 12:57
    
Noted, thanks for pointing that out. –  adam-asdf Nov 27 '12 at 15:36
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