One of the prerequisites of setting up a website is to create your own unique domain name.
You will be required to choose an appropriate domain extension such as .com, .ca, or .uk, known as top-level domains (TLDs).
Even if you don’t give much thought to the matter, your domain name will eventually end up with an extension.
It is in your best interest to choose the domain that allows you to capture several market metrics, especially those in your local area.
By market metrics, we mean technical terms like pay-per-click campaigns, total organic traffic, total paid traffic, bounce rates, and conversions.
Since your website reflects your business, your domain extension should show that you can cater to a local audience.
For Canadian businesses, it is preferable to go with the .ca extension because it appears more trustworthy to local audiences.
In fact, Google likes ccTLD so much that it has placed them at the top of the list used to determine country-specific targeting.
Localized domains such as .ca are relatively easier to reach target countries because you don’t necessarily need to rely on Geotargeting, an SEO tool that needs to be configured to determine a person’s location.
Domains not targeting links affiliated with a specific country will have a harder time reaching local audiences. This is why ccTLDs are efficient at reaching local audiences.
1- Customers Form Opinions Based on Domain Extension
Most users have no trouble identifying domain extensions like .ca. If anything, it adds to the authenticity of the website and business.
This is especially useful if you’re trying to set up an e-commerce website and earn the trust of your audience.
Domains with geographic extensions produce better local search engine results because the ccTLD tells the search engine exactly what to search for.
The .ca domains are good for higher SEO rankings in Canada because the customer will already develop positive opinions about your website’s shipping terms and conditions.
An article on Hubspot discussed at length about customer opinions when they have presented two choices.
The first choice had an .org domain, while the other had a .com domain. An overwhelming majority (90 percent of respondents) believed that the .org extension meant that the company was a registered non-profit.
This observation will also apply for businesses that want to target a localized website, irrespective of their affiliation to a non-profit organization.
The fact that your website has a .ca domain attached shows the audience that you have country-specific capabilities to handle client requests.
2- .ccTLDsAre Easier to Identify
There are fewer .com websites available to register with meaningful names. This is why registering with the .ca extension is a smart way to capture domain-specific niches.
Alternatives like the .ca domain allow business owners to create a powerful presence online while establishing a less restrictive experience for their staff members.
Just because someone else already got to your favorite domain name on .com doesn’t mean you have to miss out on matching your company name.
The above chart was sourced from Netcraft’s January 2018 survey, which found over 1.8 billion websites.
This means that it is relatively easy for your website to go under the radar if it doesn’t have something unique supporting it.
Acquiring the .ca extension will go a long way to give your business some extra cushion against the onslaught of several .com websites.
3- .COM or .CA?
The difference between a .ca and .com (the top-level) domain and the effects on your brand appears subtle. It affects your SEO, so depending on the industry you are in and mid-long term business goals.
4- In a Perfect World
If possible, take both the .com and .ca for your domain extension. Domain names are less than $15/year – great value to ensure no one takes the other domain, protecting your brand.
When you purchase both domains, you will want your Webmaster to create a 301 redirect to the other domain.
This has SEO benefits in that each redirect will create some ‘link juice’ to aid in boosting your ranking in Google search results.
5- Who Is Your Target Market?
If you have a business focusing solely on Canadian customers, then using the .ca TLD will have local geo-targeting benefits in the search engines.
When somebody uses Google.ca rather than Google.com the search results will favor .ca web addresses.
If you are looking to serve customers in the USA and further abroad, you will most likely want to lean towards the .com TLD.
The .com is recognized worldwide. Irrespective of people knowing.ca stands for Canada; they tend to associate this TLD with local services.
Takeaway: .ca is like putting a Canadian flag up outside your house abroad, and you are signaling your Canadian origins to the world.
6- What Do You Want Google Webmaster to Think?
As a default, Google Webmaster considers your .com site as international; however, you can associate your website with Canada by letting them know.
This will aid in local search traffic. A good SEO consultant can help manage this for you.
7- TLD Competition Overall
.com domain names dwarf .ca domains. Therefore, it is easier to be found in localized search terms with a .ca address than worldwide search terms.
8- Consider Your Target Market Stereotypes
Consumer preferences can impact bounce rates, user engagement on websites, and conversions.
While older generations may not be so aware of the difference between .com and .ca, you can get niches with a loyal market heavily favoring .ca over .com.
Takeaway: What generation is your target audience from, and what traits do they contain in relation to Canada and worldwide.
9- Where Are Your Back Links Coming from?
If you are being linked in local search results but want to start moving further abroad, consider where your backlinks are coming from.
If they are primarily .ca addresses, Google favors your site further towards local search results.
Start gaining (with whitehat SEO) backlinks from .com domains to move up Google.com search results.
10- So What’s the Difference Between the Two?
There is one notable difference between the .com and .ca. .com is the world’s most common top-level domain and considered to be a generic top-level domain.
This means that there is no specific geographic location attached to the site.
.Ca is a country-specific domain, meaning the website is tailored for customers from a specific region or country.
Having a country-specific domain can increase trust in customers from that region, as they are likely to positively identify a website with domestic ties.
11- What Does That Mean for Search Engine Optimization?
The top-level domain you choose for your business’ website can have numerous effects on your search engine optimization’s success.
A country-specific domain will give you a boost in local results when compared to a generic one.
For example, choosing .ca for your website will cause it to perform positively in Canada, as both Google and consumers prefer local search results.
On the other hand, .com’s strength in being a common top-level domain is it performs better internationally as it’s not associated with any specific markets or countries.
12- Here’s Why the .CA Domains Are So Beneficial
- Over 49 percent of Canadians have a strong preference for websites with a .ca domain.
- Over 54 percent of Canadians have a strong preference for .ca for personal use such as e-commerce, news research, personal banking, and social media.
- After its inception in 1987, it took 21 years to reach the 1 million milestones for .ca domains. It took another 4 years to reach the 2 million mark.
- A component of national integrity is attached to the .ca since 89 percent of Canadians believe in the importance of using country-specific ccTLDs.
- A small portion of the proceeds from .ca registrations is given back to the community through the Community Investment Program. This public initiative contributes to innovative projects to build a more robust online Canada.
- On a lighter note, you will get a little bit of traffic from Californians who may mistake.ca as a website based in California!
This isn’t to say that the .com domains are obsolete. Let’s discuss some advantages you will get by getting a .com extension.
- Google prefers websites with a .com domain name because it has the largest database of websites. There are over 125 million registered .com domains available.
- The .com is the oldest domain name, which gives it credibility and authenticity.
- Users are familiar with the .com domain name, which means that cognitive familiarity will result in more human interactions.
- Google is more likely to give higher domain authority to .com businesses than those ending with a .uk or even a .ca if you don’t have enough backlinks.
- Businesses that want to attract more customers outside Canada should use a domain name with .com instead of .ca.
- It is a good idea to register your domain across popular TLDs to protect and control your brand. You should try to target both .com and .ca domains before your competitors do the same.
13- Higher SEO Results
The .ca domain name helps you target traffic from Canada. Suppose you have a UK-based restaurant, and you want to target users from Canada.
You will want to choose the .ca domain because it ensures you show up on the search results of people living in Canada rather than the USA or Australia.
So if someone were to type “burgers near me,” the search engine will show different results depending on the person’s IP address.
A person with a Canadian ID will see your website registered with the domain suffix .ca instead of someone else’s website with the .ca domain name.
14- You Gotta Catch Em’ All (If You Can)
While it is true that the .ca domain will open you to a world of options when it comes to interacting with clients, if you have the financial muscle to purchase all ccTLDs related to your business, you should go ahead and do that before someone else does.
This might bode well in the near future if your business manages to do well, and you want to expand operations internationally.
Since you already registered several international domain names, it will become as simple as plug and play to create a globally structured website.
If you want to go down that route, you should look into registering domain names with slight variations to your business name.
For instance, www.keyboardsforyou.ca should also have www.keybaordsforyou.ca registered for it.
Taking this step is good for lead generation because you will minimize instances of clients running into another business because of a minor typo.
Additionally, you won’t have to worry about the traffic intended for your business to go to other businesses simply because your domain names match across different ccTLDs.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on January 15, 2019, and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.