Google perpetuates the American .com myth

Google 4th of July logo

Google features a 4th of July logo at Google.com today.

This is not all that unusual; Google has been doing this for several years now. But there is an inherent flaw in hosting an American visual at Google.com: The .com address is not synonymous with USA.

I know, it’s a picky thing. And yet it’s not such a picky thing. I work with numerous multinationals that now host their American Web sites at the .us domain — and their global Web sites at the .com domain. This makes perfect sense.

And yet Google, in applying the American visual to the .com site, perpetuates this idea that .com is a uniquely American URL.

Granted, Google doesn’t show residents of France and Germany and other countries this visual even if they input Google.com; Google uses geolocation to serve up localized Web pages based on the Web user’s location.

I understand Google has a dilemma on its hands. Because most Americans believe .com to be an American domain, Google might appear unpatriotic if it didn’t continue this .com/4th of July tradition.

But what I would like to see happen is Google launching a .us search engine. Not only would Google benefit from having another country country code to monetize, but those multinationals that currently host .us Web sites would be rewarded for their efforts.

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Author: John Yunker

John co-founded Byte Level Research in 2000 and is author of The Web Globalization Report Card. He also co-founder of Ashland Creek Press.

4 thoughts on “Google perpetuates the American .com myth”

  1. John,

    Google already rewards sites (to some degree) for their localization efforts by improving their positioning in local search. Webmasters can Geo Target websites with Google Webmaster Tools by asigning especific locations to folders, subdomains and gTLDs. Unfortunately, there is a default option for ccTLDs, which is completely absurd. And there is nothing known about how they are dealing with IDN’s and regionalized domains like .asia other than they are treated as language based not country based.

    Also, you are not considering Global search and Universal Search, which alters the way the internet functions.

    Eventhough I am in favor of a more democraticed web, and an enhanced global approach to online activities, we cannot completely disregard the years of history that .com domains have and their association with the US and the beginings of the Internet. My analogy will be, why not call the Latin Alphabet Spanish Alphabet since that’s what people associate the term Latin with the most and companies are investing in positioning that phrase in non-Hispanic/Latino consumers?

    Look forward to your response.

    Augusto

  2. Hi Augusto,

    I agree that Google does a great deal to support ccTLDs and that you can customize its search engine to direct users to specific sites based on their location and language. But that’s not the point I was trying to make.

    I’m not discounting the historical association between .com and the US, which is why I think Google.com functions the way it does today. What I do think is important is that Google host a US-specific site at Google.us, instead of simply redirecting back to Google.com.

    JY

  3. Hi John,

    Thanks for your reply.

    I’ve heard your idea about having a google.us. But how likely is that considering the millions of dollars they and other corps have invested in branding their .com sites? We are talking about a combined investment that exceeds trillions.

    Since you’re close to Lionbridge, you know that Google is one of, if not the most localized site on earth. Why would they want to go with a .us when that will create a lot of headaches for them? The rebranding itself will be enormous since for Americans .com equals to Internet and USA. I agree with you that it is narrow minded to think .com = USA, but it will take years and huge investment to change that mentality (.us domains are slowly but steadily raising in demand, but are not at the level of a .com whatsoever.)

    From the domain standpoint, ICANN has not made dramatic changes in the way TLDs were structured until very recently with the incorporation of full IDNs, Geo targeted TLDs and branding domains to be approved in second semester of 2009. And there is a lot of reluctancy by the ASCII community to embrace IDNs. However, that itself will not justify to push locally for a more nationalized version of a google.us.

    Augusto

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