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I use a ccTLD for my website and I want to use it as a gTLD.

Will Google punish me for using a ccTLD instead of a gTLD (e.g. .com) for a multicountry AND multilang site?

The URL structure I'm aiming for looks like this (examples):

mysite.it/ca/en => Italian TLD, Region/Country Canada, Language English
mysite.it/ca/fr => Italian TLD, Region/Country Canada, Language French
mysite.it/de => Italian TLD, Region/Country Germany, Language German
mysite.it/es => Italian TLD, Region/Country Spain, Language Spannish
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Short answer: it will, at least initially.

Long Answer: ccTLD is a very strong country-targeting signal and making Google understand otherwise will require work and patience.

You will need to employ everything at hand to neutralize the effect of using a ccTLD this way:

  • Be extra careful with the implementation of hreflangs.
  • Make sure that the content on each page is localized (not only translated) and consistent with your desired targeting.
  • Put location information on relevant pages where appropriate.
  • Build and maintain a healthy link profile from your target regions to relevant sections.
  • Use NAPs such as Google My Business with local site link if applicable.
  • Make sure to use a CDN for speed from any of the targeted regions.

Note that you can't change the target region in Google Search Console when managing a ccTLD.

Despite all of the above it still might not have the effect of using a gTLD. I have yet to find a case study showing a migration from a ccTLD used this way to a gTLD and the consequences for search visibility.

Google used to publish a list of ccTLDs it treats as gTLDs but has since removed it.

More on managing multi-regional and multilingual sites from Google's documentation.

PS Note that you probably might want to alter your proposed URL structure to use language code and region targeting at the same time like so: mysite.it/ca-en. This will save you from having to implement x-default hreflang on all the regional pages since you can't use a country code only.

| improve this answer | |
  • Great tips. The more I think about it the more it seems like a bad idea. So I just bought a new gTLD - this will solve my problems. Still have to migrate all my pages and content - luckily it's not a big site but still need to preserve link value for good SERP ranking - this will require some extra work. – PussInBoots Mar 4 '19 at 21:03

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