As part of the 2016 Web Globalization Report Card I note the use of country codes among the world’s leading brands.
It’s an imperfect process because different companies use country codes in different ways. For example, some websites use country codes as redirects back to the .com domain (not ideal, but better than nothing). Others use the country codes as standalone domains (ideal).
And a handful of others, suchas Amazon and Expedia, have made country codes an extension of their brand:
More than 80% of the companies studied in Web Globalization Report Card use country codes for at least some of the markets they support. This is a significant increase from five years ago, when many companies were still relying on .com as the base domain for all local websites.
What’s changed since then? For starters, Google has done a good job of incentivizing websites to support country codes. But more important, users around the world actually prefer country codes. These domains function as shortcuts to the local websites, bypassing the global .com site altogether.
The following companies do a very good job of supporting country codes:
- John Deere
Want to learn more about country codes? Check out this handy map.
Also, to better understand how country codes should fit into your overall global navigation strategy, check out Geolocation for Global Success.
Included as part of the 2016 Web Globalization Report Card
Venture capitalist Paul Graham believes so. He notes:
100% of the top 20 YC companies by valuation have the .com of their name. 94% of the top 50 do. But only 66% of companies in the current batch have the .com of their name. Which suggests there are lessons ahead for most of the rest, one way or another.
As an owner of many .com domains, I’m certainly a fan of the domain.
And I’d be hesitant to launch a new brand or company without first securing one.
But if I were based in, say, Indonesia, would I care as much about .com? Would I prefer to register the country code .ID?
And if I were to launch a purely mobile company, would my domain matter at all? Have we reached a point in time where the next wave of the world’s largest companies will exist largely domainless? It’s certainly feasible. Visit the website of Shapchat and you don’t get the software application; all you get is blinded by a highly annoying shade of yellow. Granted, Snapchat is hosted at .com, but it could have just as easily been hosted at .XYZ.
Which brings me to Google, which hosts its new parent company Alphabet at abc.xyz (Google does not own alphabet.com).
I don’t want to read too much into this domain in particular, only to mention that the rules today have changed.
That said, I largely agree with Paul Graham regarding .com. There are plenty of legal reasons to lock up the domain. And, for better or worse, the .com domain is considered a global domain name (and, by most Americans) an American domain name.
But my point is this: Don’t view .com as your only domain name. Don’t overlook country codes and IDNs as you build out your global presence.
Cuba has long had its own country code: .CU.
But most companies didn’t view this domain as a priority.
But be aware that this domain isn’t cheap. I’ve seen prices ranging from $800 to $1,100, so only larger companies will see this is an impulse buy.
But if you can get it, I think it’s wise to do so. It’s far cheaper to buy a domain at retail price then to have to buy it from a squatter later on.