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For example: example.co.pk OR example.pk

My instinct inclines me towards .pk ccTLD because of its shortness and easy memorability. Not sure if later on it might hurt my rankings and traffic on the website. My clients are mostly local!

Which one is better for SEO? In case I seek to attract international clients in the region surrounding Pakistan such as Middle East or South East Asia, which one of these domains will allow more visibility in their respective local SERPs?

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Both will target the same country automatically, it means you can't change the location in your search console, once you choose .pk or .co.pk, Google will consider you're targeting only pakistani visitors. So it is your choice to pick only one. There is no any SEO benefits or disadvantages.

I will suggest first understand your audience, and then choose which you should pick up. I know Google are using .co.pk for pakistan and Google.co.in for India, but most of website like amazon now use .in for indian user, and most of other local eCommerce site also prefer to use .in because it is short and easy to remember. So first know your local audience and then understand what they prefer most? .co.pk or .pk only.

For me now a days most of Indian website use .in for their local website, only few of them go with .co.in, but in general Google will treat them same, so choose wisely :)

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