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A Look at Domain Names: Country Code Domain Names

written by: Lucinda Watrous•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 1/13/2010

Country Code Top Level Domains, also known as ccTLD's, are two letter domain extensions, designed to show the origin country for a website. Rather than listing all the country codes here, we discuss the importance on ccTLD's to web designers.

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    The Benefits of ccTLD's

    Though .com domains are the most commonly purchased and used domains in the internet world, the use of country code domains is becoming increasingly popular. The IANA has an extensive list of country code domain extensions, most of which many of us have never heard of, and some we are starting to see more of.

    The reason we are starting to see more of these ccTLD's popping up, especially .ca (Canada), .cn (China) and .uk (United Kingdom) is that many of them are registered with a direct and specific purpose in mind and therefore does a better job at targeting their desired audience. Unlike .com domains, these country code domains do less work making money being parked and are not generally purchased for this particular purpose.

    May popular websites, such as Amazon and eBay, are using ccTLD's to target international customers outside of the US with specific versions of their website for those international shoppers.

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    Drawbacks of ccTLD's

    There are many different ccTLD's that are not widely used. They are difficult for most of their users to remember because the general assumption is that all websites end in .com. It is hard to get people to remember the two character country code, and if there is already a .com version of the site that is not the same as the one with the ccTLD, people will likely believe they made it to the right place anyway.

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    Should You Consider Using a ccTLD?

    If you have a reason to target another country with your website, it may not be a bad idea to consider using a ccTLD to better target that specific international audience. If you need a specific domain name that is currently already registered under the .com name, it may be a good idea to use a ccTLD to secure the domain name you need, though you should be prepared to specify in advertising and marketing campaigns to make the URL a bit more memorable.

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    List of ccTLD's

    The list of ccTLD's comes directly from the IANA, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority and is listed here for your reference.