When country codes go generic

Register .co

The .co domain is the country code of Colombia.

But a few years back Colombia sold its soul (I mean, licensed its country code).

So now .co can be registered pretty much by anyone, similar to generic top-level domains such as .com and .net.

Over the past few years the .co domain has become quite popular, used by startups such as Vine.co and Donuts.co. Twitter uses t.co as a link shortener.

When you register a country code for use as a generic domain, you want to be sure that search engines don’t view your website as limited to only that country.

Fortunately, Google is on top of the situation.

According to Search Engine Roundtable, here are the country codes (ccTLDs) Google now treats as generic:

  • ad
  • as
  • bz
  • cc
  • cd
  • co
  • dj
  • fm
  • gg
  • io
  • la
  • me
  • ms
  • nu
  • sc
  • sr
  • su
  • tv
  • tk
  • ws

But what if I want my country code to act like a country code?

Let’s suppose you’re a business located in Colombia and you  register .co. You want search engines to recognize your domain as a country code, not some globally generic identifier.

Well, there’s a solution for this as well, at least with Google. Using Google Webmaster Tools you can tell Google to view your domain not as generic but as specific to a country or region.

It’s not the most elegant solution and I’m unclear on if/how Bing manages the issue, but it’s where we stand today with the world’s largest search engine.

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2 Responses to “When country codes go generic”

  1. Marypat May 29, 2013 at 4:26 am #

    Interesting post, John. Thanks for pointing out how Google handles this. I also wonder about how ‘ly’ (Lybia) is handled and if it’s not mentioned because it’s sanctioned by the US (http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Pages/Programs.aspx)? Two ‘ly’ sites with high usage are http://ow.ly and http://bit.ly, for example..

  2. John Yunker May 29, 2013 at 4:23 pm #

    I thought awhile back that Bit.ly would migrate to j.mp, which they had registered, but perhaps they’re content to take their chances for the time being. And I’m guessing Google is staying quiet for the reason you mentioned.