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Currently my client's company is running under a .com domain due to thinking they would go global in near future.

I realised there is a .com.au domain registered by them and I believe it would have a great impact on SEO in Australia however i'm not sure whether there would be a negative impact tied to moving the domain from .com to .com.au. Any thoughts?

  • You can't go global with a .com.au, Google only shows that domain to AU users. – Stephen Ostermiller Jul 27 '17 at 1:21
  • @StephenOstermiller Much aware. Apologies if my question didn't make it clear :) – Oliver K Jul 27 '17 at 12:24
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    It's incorrect to say "Google only shows that domain to AU users". ccTLDs (with a few exceptions) do have a geotargeting effect, but that certainly doesn't prevent them being seen outside their associated country. – GDav Jul 28 '17 at 14:38
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There may be a minimal negative impact in the changeover in your organic traffic but that would only be short term, as long as you follow Google's guidelines of how to move your site from one domain to another.

Long term, a .com.au should help your audience better determine that you are an Australian business, and you should get some localised benefit from using .com.au because Google has always had a bias towards domain names. However that has become less prevalent in recent years as Google looks at a range of things to determine whether a website is localised or not, such as the regional language code used on the website (ie. en-au), and to what you set the geographical audience to in Search Console, and of course, it still comes down to the actual content of the site. If they all point the same direction then the localisation benefit will be strong.

If you haven't already, you will need to setup a Google Search Console account (previously known as Webmaster Tools).

https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/83106?hl=en

For the future, I would redirect the .com to the .com.au until such time as you need a international web presence, and then have either have a separate site for international or if you want separate regional websites, roll them all into one under the .com and serve regionalised websites (ie. /au and /gb /fr /us etc.) under that.

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From a cost/benefit point of view it's unlikely to be worth the trouble.

Consider the costs (including labour) to your client associated with the domain and implementing the migration. Add lost revenue while organic rankings recover from the migration, and potentially increased PPC spend to compensate for reduced organic traffic. There may be costs attached to changing references to the domain name, too, e.g., in printed brochures.

On the benefit side of the equation is the geotargeting effect of the ccTLD. But is that effect large enough to drive the growth in organic revenue needed to justify those costs? I suspect not. Especially when you consider the effect is equivalent to setting International Targeting in Search Console (a measure that costs nothing and takes seconds).

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