Google’s Matt Cutts: Not All ccTLD’s Are Created Equally In Generic Search Rankings

There is a very interesting video posted on from Matt Cutts of Google who answered the question about how ccTLD’s are viewed by Google especially when they are being used as domain hacks.

Here is the 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?”

In the 2:30 minute video, Matt Cutts makes it clear that not all ccTLD’s are going to be treated the same by Google:

“As the domain space gets more exhaustive in .com, people are getting more creative using domain names like  which is owned by Matt Mullenweg of, which is a very cool domain,, but is the country code for Trinidad and Tobago.

Many others are using words that ends in .es, and we see a lot of startups that have been using  .Io (Indian Ocean).

When using these ccTLD as either domain hacks or just because they make a cool domain name or brand, Matt Cutts is saying you have to be VERY careful otherwise the domain is going to be treated as a ccTLD and thought by Google to be only targeting residents the country the ccTLD represents.

“You have to think hard, if its going to be thought of as an international domain or a country code.”

Matt calls out .Co specifically as one is which is treated as generic by Google and not as the ccTLD of Colombia.

“”In some sense it comes down to a little bit of a call when a domain becomes truly  generic, appropriate to the entire world.”

“So like .Co, which I think used to be for Colombia. has become a generic like another .com”

“But if you’re using an .es for a word that ends in .es or .li domain, which I understand is being used by a lot of businesses located in  Long Island, because it’s really a cool address, you have to be careful because in the case of .es we are going to think its related to Spain and in the case of  .Li we are going to associate it as targeting residents of Lichtenstein because 99% of the domain in use are related to those countries”.

“Otherwise everyone starts to use crazy random domain names and they lose the sense of what they were originally intended for and that could be a bad experience for everyone”.

A MUST see Video for anyone using or considering using ccTLD especially as  a domain hacks.



  1. says

    This is silly. 1st never base your business decisions off of google. If you are self employed stay that way. You don’t need google being your boss. Just like a real boss they can lay you off any time for any reason.

    2nd this model makes sense for google right now so they do it this way. They are a business which means they will do what makes the most sense for them. This will change if the people of the internet further adapt the use of cctlds as gtlds even if the registries themselves don’t consider themself a gtld.

    I expext not long after the new tlds come out Google will make a business decision to treat all tlds as gtlds, probably with more weight on some then orhers based on the percieved authority of the tld. .gov most authoratative, then .edu and .com then after that who knows. I would still expext .org to rank well.

  2. says


    I Think it you disregard how Google is going to rank your site, that’s silly.

    The reality of the Internet is that Google controls 70% of all search and if they are telling you that a lot of ccTLD’s are not going to rank globally when they are used as hacks or as a brand I think its would be foolish to simply disregard that in selecting a domain name.

  3. says

    Mike, it’s not that I disagree, I suppose I just think anout it differently. I’m more with Rick on feelings about G. I just don’t think they should be an important part of a business plan. I do think it is a good tool to leverage if it makes business sense to do so.

    Also important to remember at the end of the day Googles decisions are actually based on everyone else’s behavior. Good to remember Google depends on us. Not as domainers, and not limited to domainers. The people of the internet are the ones consuming google and creating all of their content for free. So I think it is actually we who call the shots.

    It’s not like gas prices where we have no choice but to buy gas for our car.

  4. says

    I think the video is somewhat beneficial. I love Google, and have worked with many of their engineers and venture group — razor sharp. What Google (the Company) does not like: people who try to game the system, and modify SEO, based on changing search algorithms.

    Bottom line: build a solid product, and people will come. There is no build and they will come. Except if you have killer domains like,,

    I’ve sold several .me to companies in Silicon Valley — all received series A rounds, and some sites are in the top 1000 Alexa.

    Another example: Alexa – over 4 million (lacking product) (great product) Alexa 3,000

  5. says

    Hello MHB,

    The Google Ad MATRIX, is becoming less and less relavent as each day goes buy. Like all cartels they eventually crumble under their own weight. There is a new Strategic Form of New World Smart Marketing Emerging and it will send Ripples across the WEBS very fabric.

    Gratefully, Jeff Schneider (Contact group) (Metal tiger)

  6. sweetie says

    Awesome. Thanks a lot Matt for noticing .co’s potential. I’ve seen small businesses using .co in Europe. I Love .CO which does sound like COmmerce and great single word .co’s are still available at reg. price. I’d righter use a short one-word .co than long three or four word .com

  7. says

    Sweatie…..if the company cannot get the dot com, they will get the dot co .

    Let me give you a good LIVE example.

    KarmaEnergy- tell me who owns the dot co and dot com.

    Thanks to dot co, I get $$$$ every month and free traffic.

    Now you tell me….if you want to be a world class player, do you want the dot com on your business card…?

  8. sweetie says

    The traffic that You’re getting on your .com for now thanks to its resemblance to .co is going to decrease as people’s awareness of .co’s existence increases

  9. says

    JP, I admire your “gusto”; but Michael makes a very important point: even if we want to defy “Goliath” and minimize their control, most businesses are still currently at their mercy.

    Jeff (metal tiger), I truly hope you are correct and can reduce the monopolistic control of “Goliath”.

    BullS, I definately think the .com (or in many cases .org) TLDs convey “world class player” status at this point and other extensions still are not perceived as “kings” of their respective domain distinctions. I expect that with the shrinking “real estate” left on the SERPs for organic listings, that the new gTLDs will have a tough time breaking into the 1st page (or commanding perceived status in the minds of consumers). ccTLDs are great for regional businesses, but with globalization and corporations that cross country borders, I believe that .com/.org enable more perceived global power and confidence from searchers.

    Michael, thank you for continuing to highlight the paramount issues in the domain industry. respect deserved.

  10. says

    R.E. = ” The traffic that You’re getting on your .com for now thanks to its resemblance to .co is going to decrease as people’s awareness of .co’s existence increases ”

    Think So ?

    What do you think will happen when .COM Ad support starts this Campaign :

    “Its The .COM Stupid NOT the .co ”

    Coming I promise You!

    Gratefully, Jeff Schneider (Contact Group) (Metal tiger)

  11. sweetie says

    That’d be Great ! I can’t wait for the moment an average American becomes aware of .co existence. Europeans and Asians got it right away (example
    There is an obvious need for an alternative to .COM and .CO is a great one
    For now its like comparing a child to an adult

  12. Louise says

    Hi, has been live a couple years, and often ranked page one for mobile tech tv, which is the intention to brand it, using “tv” in the brand name, but this article made me curious to check how it is doing for simple, mobile tech, search. After years in the triple digits near 200, it appears #41 first listing on page 5, which is encouraging. It has risen. It shows, Google rewards original content, no matter what. Get busy.

  13. says

    @ Sweetie

    Knock yourself out, AHHHH ! I can count the click Bleeds already.

    You are swimming against awfully strong tides no matter the yarn Juan calle spins.
    Go ahead Belly up to the bar boys.

    Gratefully, Jeff Schneider (Contact Group) (Metal tiger)

  14. says

    I totally agree with Jeff’s (Metal Tiger) statement about “swimming against a strong tide” (if trying to compete against .com TLD). With the prevalence of major brands already using .com for their brands coupled with the fact that .com is engrained in the public mind’s, other TLDs will have a tough time gaining as much traction or notoriety (as .com). In China, 8 out of the 10 most trafficed websites are .com, not their own ccTLD .cn. Additionally, with Latin America becoming one of the fastest growing geographic regions for internet adoption (US is already saturated at over 75% users), what does everyone expect will happen to .co when more Colombians begin establishing websites under their own rightful country-code (.co)? I wish those .co adopters the best of luck, but I think they will need the strength of salmon to “swim up that stream”.

  15. says

    I am not the average Internet user but when I see a .co I automatically think the company is second class. I figure they responded to those Godaddy commercials and didn’t take the time or effort to come up with a “real” domain.

  16. says

    @ BrandDoctor,

    People have to realize they are dealing with the .COM/PLEX and we will defend our BRAND to the gates of HELL-O is anybody In ??

    Gratefully, Jeff Schneider (Contact Group) (Metal Tiger)

  17. Louise says

    The title of the article is, Not All ccTLDs are Created Equally in Generic Search Rankings. Testing one of my two dot tv ccTLDs for left of the dot keywords, the rise in rankings indicate Google EVENTUALLY rewarded the original content on It took a while. Maybe longer than if it were dot com or dot net!

  18. sweetie says

    Its already happening: For example try ” teenage game” in Google -> .co shows up at the top ( then then

  19. says

    sweetie PERMALINK
    Its already happening: For example try ” teenage game” in Google -> .co shows up at the top ( then then
    That is a LAME/laughable example, there is 100 exact monthly searches for the term, no-one in this planet is competing to rank …

    Content is and always be KING, for branding the memorability factor matter immensely where .com is and always be King.

    Most People that choose (or are forced) to take a different route is mainly due to the fact that they can get the .com for whatever rea$on… (or their country code in certain countries)

    (Do I need to bring the example again? where even after millions of dollars spent on tv’ prime time… the end result was a failure)

    xe. co resolves to xe. com = Defensive registration
    end of the story.

  20. Louise says

    @sweetie said

    Its already happening: For example try ” teenage game” in Google -> .co shows up at the top ( then then

    Good example! @ Domo Sapiens not embracing reality. Yes, teenage game has only few exact searches. But appears page 1 for the plural search,

    [teenage games]Low 4,400 1,600
    “teenage games”




  21. Louise says

    Let’s take another example:

    “stuff” Low 7,480,000 3,350,000
    [stuff] Low 1,000,000 74,000

    Two ccTLDs appear for the US Google search on page 1:

    so it shows, ccTLDs rank high even for popular keywords in US Google searches, when there is great content.

    But is sure to do well, once it is developed, maybe rank even higher!

  22. says

    What a hell is “teenage games”?
    traffic coming from Pakistan?

    No decent/savvy webmaster will pursue that small amount of searches, not worth the time nor cost , .co regs are expensive in addition you have hosting costs and man hours….

    Site Information for Get Details
    Alexa Traffic Rank: No Data
    Zero Nada Zilch

  23. Louise says

    @ Domo, You’re so smart, I can’t figure you out! You say, 1600 EXACT match searches for, teenage games, and 4400 PHRASE searches – all local from in the US, are insignificant? Last I heard, 1600 exact monthly US searches are valuable. What do I know?

  24. Louise says

    Listen, I don’t mean to be “smart” sounding! As in smart alecky. But I really want to know, you say about 1600 exact monthly US searches

    No decent/savvy webmaster will pursue that small amount of searches

    Do you mean that?

  25. sweetie says

    The truth is nobody knows the future: Just a few years ago Yahoo was “the king” and nobody even heard of Google. But every king dies (or is replaced) eventually (it seems to be too hard to understand for some).
    My main concern is this: Someday Google (or someone else) may revolutionize the search algorithm in such a way that the domain extension no longer matters.

  26. says

    Louise PERMALINK
    Listen, I don’t mean to be “smart” sounding! As in smart alecky. But I really want to know, you say about 1600 exact monthly US searches
    No decent/savvy webmaster will pursue that small amount of searches
    Do you mean that?

    The “Games’ CTR/RPM are terrible, the MFA/Minisite era it’s over.

    Stop living in dreamland.

    aside the site has negligible traffic in spite of ranking well …

  27. Louise says

    @ Domo, thanx for clarifying, because, above, you said

    there is 100 exact monthly searches for the term

    1600 exact monthyly searches is more than 100 monthly searches, so I wanted to make sure we are on the same page.

  28. says

    What I hear from semi-pro game’ domain developers is that only domains with 100,000 “exact searches” or more are worth developing I am sure exceptions apply…

    Here is the list of c.c (country codes) that google treats/has treated for years now as :

    Generic Country Code Top Level Domains (gccTLDs)

    Google treats some ccTLDs (such as .tv, .me, etc.) as gTLDs, as we’ve found that users and webmasters frequently see these more generic than country-targeted. Here is a list of those ccTLDs (note that this list may change over time).


    Not sure how that helped any of those..? (rolling eyes)
    Sorry to burst the . com/webmasters/bin/

  29. says

    R.E. = ” My main concern is this: Someday Google (or someone else) may revolutionize the search algorithm in such a way that the domain extension no longer matters. ”

    Google loves blurring .COM Brand lines. Successfuly milking Corporate End Users by tying them to a system that depends on reliance to SEO alchemists milking the system with each algorithm change. This is the Ad MATRIX they have created and collected massive Ad $ returns.

    Gratefully, Jeff Schneider (Contact Group) (Metal Tiger)

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