We have the option of using a .it domain which is a ccTLD (country code top-level domain).

We don't want it to be specific to Italy though, we want Google to treat it as a gTLD (generic top-level domain).

It seems like in Google Webmaster Tools I can't change the geo targeting to switch it off from targeting Italy, but I was wondering if there is some other way we can get Google to realize that our .it domain is really a gTLD?

Here's some details I found from Google regarding geo targeting domains.

There's also this question where user w3d says (in reference to a .nl domain):

You can only specify the region yourself if you have a generic (non-country specific) TLD such as .com or .org.

However, this does not mean that your site won't appear on google.com or even google.co.uk, providing your content is deemed relevant to those users. Having a country specific TLD (or specifying a particular geographic target for a generic TLD) makes your site more relevant in a localised search but not necessarily any less relevant in a global search.

The interesting part there for me is that a .it domain might not be any less relevant in a global search.

Yet to make matters slightly more confusing (given w3d's empirically proven answer above), Matt Cutts says it's a bad idea generally in this video.

Does this mean that our .it domain would appear in Google.it search results first over time, but then would appear on Google.com and Google.co.uk once we have enough relevance, and that this would be the same amount of relevance we'd need if we used a standard .com domain?

Given that we're targeting worldwide traffic should we avoid using a .it domain, or will it not make any difference? What's the real story? I need evidence and sources too please.

  • I suppose the question needs asking, why are you going to use a .it domain for targeting globally in the first place?
    – zigojacko
    Jun 26 '14 at 14:15
  • 1
    For the word "it" - the word "it" is part of the brand name. We can use www.wecraveit.com or www.wecrave.it Jun 26 '14 at 14:30
  • The .com makes much more sense. I personally can't stand brands that try to use top level ccTLD's to form words in their domain (granted, that's just me of course). I know that a .it can perform well in .co.uk and .com search engines as well as .it - I just haven't got the time right this second to put together an answer of evidence and sources which you're asking for.
    – zigojacko
    Jun 26 '14 at 14:37
  • A question you can ask youself - when searching Google.com, how often do you see country specific domains ranking for 'generic' searches. The answer is probably not often.
    – Max
    Jun 26 '14 at 23:25

This has mostly been answered in the comments but I wanted to add a little bit to it...

If you're targeting a global market with your domain then you should use a .com TLD. This should be done for a few simple reasons.

  • If you're starting from scratch it will be easier to rank globally using a .com TLD than a country code
  • Users are more comfortable clicking on a .com over a country code such as .it for Search

There was a thread on several years back talking about this and I think the advice there still applies. http://www.webmasterworld.com/domain_names/4027633.htm

One of the reasons it will be easier to rank using the .com domain name is because if you use the wecrave.it domain you're splitting up your keywords in your domain and losing "it" from the domain. This would hurt you with exact match queries for your domain. Now I'll admit "we crave it" is a pretty broad search and going to be tough to rank for but "we crave" is even broader.. These specific keywords aren't that rich so this wouldn't be a total killer for since they aren't going to make a lot of difference anyways but just wanted to point it out.

I would recommend you use the wecrave.it domain for Social Media though. It's become common practice to use short URLs on Social Media in order to save space (especially on Twitter). Users are comfortable with this and you can build brand recognition with wecrave.it over others such as bit.ly or goo.gl.

You can also simply use 301s for wecrave.it to wecraveit.com if you want to market the shorter URL. Also once you establish your site and have a solid rankings you could make the decision to move to the wecrave.it domain as your primary and use 301s for redirecting all .com traffic to .it. There is obviously risk in this but if you really wanted to do it for branding / marketing reasons doing it later once you're established would be my advice.

  • 1
    I like this answer - we can use wecraveit.com as the canonical URL but we can continue to use wecrave.it in social media if we choose. Jun 27 '14 at 12:12
  • 1
    Exactly! And I would encourage you to. Many companies will use a short URL with .co (PacSun.com -> psun.co, Macy's -> mcys.co, etc.) but if your company / product ends with a ccTLD take advantage of it such as SearchEngineWatch.com -> sewat.ch.
    – K Finley
    Jun 27 '14 at 13:07

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.