" Multi-Country URL Guide - ccTLD,Subdomain,Subdirectory

Multi-Country URL Guide: ccTLD, Subdomain or Subfolder

If you want to grow your business in multiple countries and want to show up it on your website, you’re definitely worrying how to structure the website to show content for multiple countries. How to structure URLs so that you can have brand impact as well SEO impact in your targeted regions. This guide will surely help you to come out with some conclusion and how to have multi-country URL structure for the site. Below is the detail comparison between ccTLD, subdomain and subfolder.

ccTLD

Local Brand Impact

  • Delivers high impact and builds trust

SEO Benefits

  • Indicates to users and search engines that the website is targeted to a specific country
  • Easily tracked in most web analytics tools
  • Each website can be hosted in country to further improve multilingual SEO
  • No benefits from other language sites since each  site is stands alone

Set-up & Maintenance

  • Complicated to deploy
  • Requires that all domains are available
  • May require a different registration process in each country and individual set-up and maintenance of each site

Cost

  • Expensive
  • Each domain may require separate registration, set-up, and maintenance costs
  • May involve physical presence or other requirements

Choosing among available ccTLDs

Again, there are primary and second level domains available among ccTLDs. For example, for India; .in is primary ccTLD and .co.in is second level domain. For UAE, .ae is primary ccTLD and .co.ae is second level domain. For Australia, .com.au is primary domain.  They can be chosen based on following parameters –

  1. URL Length – with primary domains we can have short URLs. Second level domains increase URL length (with few extra characters in-between like ‘co.’ & ‘com.’ ). Short URLs are easy to type.
  2. SEO Impact – Primary domains have more SEO impact than second level domains
  3. Familiarity – Now, for country like UK , primary ccTLD is .uk and second level ccTLD is co.uk ; still .co.uk is more famous or familiar among online community. So people tend to type which comes to their mind first. Also, .co.uk was introduced before than .uk domains. That is why, ‘familiarity’ is also deciding factor while choosing right ccTLDs.
  4. Availability – You can always go for domains which is available.

 

Subdomain

Local Brand Impact

  • Delivers medium impact and instills some trust

SEO Benefits

  • Indicates to users that the website is targeted to a specific country; search engines require Search Console geo-targeting
  • Easily tracked in most web analytics tools
  • Each website can be hosted in country to further improve SEO
  • No benefits passed to each website from the popularity of the root domain

Set-up & Maintenance

  • Relatively easy to deploy Search Console geo-targeting

Cost

  • Moderate
  • Requires purchase of one top-level domain unless using existing TLD
  • Costs increase if each subdomain is hosted in a separate market

Subfolder or Subdirectory

Local Brand Impact

  • Delivers little impact or trust unless brand is well known in the market

SEO Benefits

  • Indicates little to users about targeting; search engines require Search Console geo-targeting
  • Challenging to track in most web analytics tools
  • All sites hosted on the same server, hindering SEO improvements
  • Domain popularity benefits all language sites

Set-up & Maintenance

  • Easiest to deploy
  • Limited additional setup or maintenance fees
  • Requires maintaining a separate directory for each language

Cost

  • Inexpensive
  • Requires purchase of one top-level domain

Few famous brand sites using different approaches, but ccTLD is most preferred structure –

Multi-Country URL Approach

Basis on factors like ease to improve local brand impact, ease of SEO for specific country, capacity of business to invest on maintenance of multiple sites located on country specific server (which would also have good impact on page load time); I would recommend to have ccTLDs i.e. country specific URLs for each country.

Again, if you are famous brand and you have huge money, you can go for ccTLD i.e. country-specific URL approach. In other words, you can have separate sites for each country. I personally would not suggest to have subdomain structure. If you’re new business with low budget subdirectory structure is recommended.

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Prabodhan Patil

Working with Indigo Consulting (a Publicis Groupe Company) since 2015 - helping businesses to grow. Specialist in Search Engine Optimisation, SEM , SMO strategies. Expert in techniques and strategies acceptable by the search engine industry.