In my time as a blogger, content creator and digital marketing expert (self-taught), I have come to understand that one of the few things that make or break your business’s online presence is the domain extension of your website. For any business that strives to drive sales from the internet, ranking high on Google is a top priority and one of the first steps to success is choosing the right domain extension, i.e., ccTLD vs gTLD.
As much as the domain name doesn’t matter (i.e., you can go ahead and name your site 5x6het56782.com and still rank), the domain extension does. For instance, choosing a .com may be better for your business, as compared to co.ke, .co.ng, .za, .mx, etc.
It gets a little complicated, so to be fair, let’s start with the basics.
Introduction to ccTLDs and TLDs
TLD is an abbreviation for “Top Level Domain” and this is the highest level in the hierarchy of Domain Naming systems (DNS) of the internet.
For example, if a website is named example.com, the .com extension is the TLD. The same applies to example.org etc.
TLDs are then subdivided into 2 categories:
- gTLDs (g for generic)
- ccTLDS (cc for country code)
Some examples of gTLDs are:
- .com – used by commercial entities.
- .org – mainly used by (but not restricted to) organizations.
- .edu – for educational institutions ONLY.
- .ai – mainly used by tech companies and artificial intelligence startups.
- .co – initially, this was a county code TLD for Colombia but currently serves as a catchy alternative to a .com gTLD.
On the other hand, here are some ccTLDs with the countries they represent:
- .ke – Kenya
- .co.ke – Kenya
- .us – United States
- .ca – Canada
- .uk – United Kingdom
- .in – India
- .au – Australia
You see, gTLDs and ccTLDs are managed and coordinated by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Domain names registered under TLDs are managed by registries and registrars accredited by ICANN.
I hope you are up to speed now.
With that out of the way, how can you determine if you should select a ccTLD or a gTLD domain name for your business website?
Factors influencing your choice between gTLDs and ccTLDs
Here are a few things you should consider when deciding between a ccTLD (.ke) or gTLD for your business website domain:
1. Target audience
If your business is focused locally in Kenya, then choosing the .ke ccTLD could be beneficial to signal you are a Kenyan company and build trust with local customers. But if you want to reach international audiences, a gTLD like .com is more globally recognized.
The .com space is more crowded, and therefore, selecting a specific domain name that represents your business may be more difficult than you think. For instance, the domain dailyhub.com at the time of launching this website was unavailable, but dailyhub.co.ke was available. Further, the domain dailyhub.co.za (South African ccTLD was available too)
Therefore, by simple reasoning, finding an available .ke domain may be easier for a new Kenyan business.
.ke domains are cheaper than most gTLDs since they are meant for Kenyan entities. But .com has more competition, so renewal costs may rise.
At the time of this publication, the .ai gTLD cost around $79.99 on Hostinger, while a .co.ke cost Ksh.725.00, an equivalent of $5.00
Other gTLD prices are as follows:
4. SEO implications
Search engines (mainly Google) often give a minor local search boost to ccTLDs like .ke. But overall SEO depends more on quality content and backlinks than just domain extension.
According to Suraj Deshmukh, A ccTLD is the strongest signal to indicate to Google where the origin of the website is. If all other SEO factors are the same, the ‘example.com’ website is better ranked on Google.com than ‘example.in’ or ‘example.co.uk’.
If your business is competing with other websites that primarily serve a Kenyan audience, it will make the most sense to purchase and work with a ccTLD as Google (google.co.ke), Bing and any other search engine will probably rank you higher than gTLDs for keywords that are specific to Kenya.
Of course, keyword optimization is not that simple, but that’s the basic idea!
Other factors such as domain authority, page authority, backlinks, quality of content and age of your website will determine whether you rank or not. By complementing solid on-page and off-page SEO with a .ke domain, you make it clear to Google that your website merits priority ranking for searches by Kenyan users.
So, while a generic .com site may outperform a .ke site for international or US-based searches, the .ke ccTLD gives Kenyan websites an advantage when it comes to visibility and traffic from local searchers. For any business targeting customers specifically within Kenya, utilizing the .ke extension can be an impactful part of an effective local SEO strategy.
Read more about Search Engine Optimization here.
5. Future plans for your business
If you envision expanding internationally in the future, starting with .com or a global gTLD makes transitioning easier down the road. If you start an AI company and settle for a ccTLD and establish a brand with it, it will be very difficult for you to switch your domain name or even the extension to a gTLD, without losing all existing traffic to your website.
It will cost you an arm and a leg to retain and build more search engine dominance if you try to shift from a ccTLD to a gTLD in an already high DA website.
Choosing the right top-level domain for your website is an important decision that requires careful consideration of your business goals, target audience, and long-term vision.
While legacy gTLDs like .com remain dominant, ccTLDs and new gTLDs are gaining traction in certain markets and use cases. There is no definitive “best” TLD for all situations.
Assess your specific needs and research the strategic benefits and drawbacks of different TLD options. Weigh factors like localization, availability, memorability, and cost.
With mindful planning and registration, securing the optimal TLD can help strengthen your brand identity, amplify your marketing, and connect you with the right customers both locally and globally in today’s digital landscape.