1

We are an Irish company and currently have a .ie domain for our main website with two other ccTLDs for our international sites - .co.uk and .nl (they are slightly different domain names as they were set up at intervals by different people). However, for ease of maintenance (we have one web guy looking after 3 WordPress installs) and better SEO focus we want to merge them all under one domain and use subdirectories for our international sites (ie, .../uk/ and .../nl/) .

Is it bad practice to use .ie as our top-level domain with subdirectories for our other country pages? ie blah.ie/uk/, blah.ie/nl/ and blah.ie for Ireland-focused content

Would this affect our chances of ranking in the UK and in the Netherlands? Would we be able to geotarget those subdirectories for those countries through webmaster tools?

Why would we do this? We have a high ranking .ie domain and the .com alternative to it is already registered to another person, though it could potentially be bought off of them (for a price likely outside our budget). Additionally, the majority of our customers are in Ireland and we only have a few pages for the UK and the Netherlands (which both get low traffic).

3

Is it bad practice to use .ie as our top-level domain with subdirectories for our other country pages?

Yes, unfortunately it is. Google considers pages on ccTLDs as belonging to the region specified by the ccTLD, therefore, whatever you're trying to do, Google might still think the country-subfolders might belong to Ireland instead of the UK or the Netherlands.

Would we be able to geotarget those subdirectories for those countries through webmaster tools?

No, it won't.

I reckon there are two options:

  1. You buy the .com-Domain OR another gTLD like .net and create subfolders for each country like /ie/, /uk/ and /nl/. You should then 301-redirect your .ie to the .com/ie/ (page-by-page), ideally through .htaccess. The rankings for your .ie-Domain will then be transferred to the .com/ie/ (but only if redirection is implemented properly!) As for redirection, that's what you also should do with the .nl and .co.uk site. Be sure to implement the hreflang annotation on each of the sites for proper geotargeting.
  2. You keep each ccTLD as is (which I wouldn't consider the best option) OR just keep the .ie-site and combine .nl and .co.uk in a gTLD. Which doesn't make much sense, because when you buy a gTLD, why not combine ALL of them in one ;)

I've got a lot of experience with international clients and as far as I can tell, option 1 is the only think that is going to work properly. I'm afraid I cannot imagine any other option to keep your rankings AND make handling different sites easier.

  • Thought that would be the case so will look into get a gTLD. Thanks for the answer. – Jon Jan 19 '15 at 11:58
  • Good luck, Jon! – tentakellady Jan 19 '15 at 13:15

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