Matt Cutts Talks Location And ccTLDs

By: Chris Crum - February 28, 2013

In Google’s latest Webmaster Help video, Matt Cutts discusses location and ccTLDs. Specifically, he responds to the following user-submitted question:

We have a vanity domain ( that unfortunately isn’t one of the generic TLDs, which means we can’t set our geographic target in Webmaster Tools. Is there any way to still target our proper location?

“We’ve seen this trend – as the domain name space gets a little more exhausted in .com, people get creative, and so Matt Mullenweg at WordPress grabbed, for example, which is a really creative URL, but something that people don’t think about is: what is .tt? Or what is .ge?” says Cutts. “It’s Georgia, you know, there’s a lot of startups that have been using .io, which is the TLD for the Indian Ocean, I believe. So you have to think hard about is it the case that this is going to be known as an international area? If your’e just using .es because you can find some cool word that ends in .es, most people using that domain are targeting Spain. So that is our assumption – that you’re targeting Spain.”

He says that some people want .li to be associated with Long Island, but it’s really associated with Lichtenstein, and that’s how Google views it.

“In some sense, it comes down to a little bit of a call about when a domain becomes truly generic. When it becomes appropriate for the entire world. So .co, which used to be, I think, Columbia, might be more generic now, where everybody’s using it as if it is another .com, but some domains, I would put some thought into. Just because it’s a cool URL, a lot of the times we’re going to be looking at it and thinking, ‘Hmm, this is actually related more to Lichtenstein that it is to Long Island, and so even though people want to do a Long Island business, we’re more likely to think that it’s in Lichtenstein.”

He goes on to suggest that you post on Webmaster forums and “rally your case,” and do a blog post that says, “.iO is mostly startups, and this should not be related to this country…” Still, he says, Google has to look at the data and look at the domains that are in use, and make a judgment call.

Chris Crum

About the Author

Chris CrumChris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.

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  • David Jenkins

    This borders on a question I was discussing the other day. My site uses .com but the server on which is is located is UK based so I believe Google sees my audience as primarily the UK (which is is not). I could move my site to a server based in the USA so would Google then see my .com as primarily for a US audience. The logic behind this idea is that the population of the USA is about 5 times that of the UK . . . so five times the visitors?

    • Trace

      I think you should set your primary audience as USA in Google’s Webmaster tools. That may solve the problem.

      • Dusan

        Correct. I once targeted Great Britain from inside Webmaster. Within days, I lost my top positions in the US but gained them in the UK.

        Then I targeted again the US. Within days, I had started to appear in top positions in US and moved to page 8 or lower in the UK.

        Why did I do that? To see what happens. Because I could. I had no real good reason. Just some time on my hands.

        But I do have first hand experience about what happens when you go into Google webmaster and choose a country to target.

  • Jan

    What about the .cc domains? At the time, we were led to believe that was going to be generic, but I don’t think it ever really got that way. I’ve got an older domain on a .cc that got shot down with Panda. Wonder if any of that is caused by them looking at the cc’s differently?

  • peter

    Very good information. The same can be said about .us . It isn’t bad per say if you have a business where only local customers can reach you such as a batting gage as opposed to a full Internet based business