The SEO Benefits of International Domain Names

Byon April 22#business-tips
The SEO Benefits of International Domain Names

Search engine optimization (SEO).

Those three words can send shivers down the spine of any business owner who’s found themselves embroiled in bitter battles with their rivals for strong search engine results. You want to rank well for your keywords in the U.S. – getting more traffic as a result – because high rankings lead to more sales.

Then, you throw the international market into the mix.

You could try to optimize your American website for an international audience, though you risk creating a ton of confusion in the process. Alternatively, you could register international domains – creating individual sites for each – to experience these massive SEO benefits.

Benefit 1 – A Local Website for Local Search Engines

As a user of, you might assume that’s the only version of the search engine that exists. After all, that search engine sometimes delivers results written in other languages for your searches, so you might feel you’re safe to presume that is the only version of Google that exists.

You’d be wrong in that assumption.

Google actually operates dozens of country-specific search engines – all in different languages – designed to help people living in those countries find results that are more specific to their location. If you have a .com domain with English-language text, that multitude of search engines presents a problem:

They’ll always rank local providers of your service above you.

When you buy international domains, you’re essentially opening the door to achieving the ranking you need in these other versions of Google. The search engine sees that your website is based in the appropriate country – indicating that it’s based in that country – and will deliver a better ranking as a result.

Benefit 2 – Adapt for Cultural Considerations

Many companies try to get around the international ranking issue by building subdirectories that link to their main .com site.

This approach can work…to an extent.

For instance, creating a version of your site for German customers in a subdirectory allows you to send all links to the same domain. Marketing is simpler – there’s only one domain to consider – and the .com version of the domain gets stronger.

The problem is that this approach makes it harder to rank well in the countries to which the subdirectory is supposed to appeal.

In this case, German search engines might not even find the subdirectory. And if they do, they’re going to be redirected to a .com domain that may not even use their language.

By purchasing international domains specific to the markets you wish to enter, you’re making more work for yourself. That’s a given – you’ll need to build a version of your website on that new domain in the appropriate language. But you also get a website that’s treated as a separate entity by international search engines, which usually leads to higher rankings than relying on subdirectories.

Benefit 3 – Higher Authority With Your Traffic

Let’s assume that – by some miracle – you’ve managed to achieve strong rankings for an English-language .com domain in a country like Japan.

You’ve won the SEO game to an extent. The rank you want is yours for the keywords your potential customers are using. However, you’re not getting the level of conversions you expected from the traffic those high rankings deliver.


Two words – relevance and authority.

On the relevance side, it’s no good to have your site ranking well for a keyword if the traffic that keyword draws sees a site that isn’t relevant to its needs. In our Japanese example, that would be an American .com website reached via a Japanese keyword – it isn’t relevant because the potential customer can’t buy from the site.

Relevance also leads to authority.

With international domains, you send strong ranking signals to search engines that you have a legitimate business stationed in the country to which you’re selling. Those signals lead to higher rankings. But they’re also picked up by your visitors – your domain instills trust in them because they see you have an official presence in their country.

Achieve SEO Success With International Domains

Yes, mounting new websites onto international domains requires more work – and more money – than using subdirectories or simply relying on your regular .com site. But that work and money pay off in SEO terms by increasing your likelihood of ranking well in other territories. Those higher rankings lead to more traffic, resulting in more sales, to pay off the investment you place into an international domain.

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