In a Google SEO Office hours session, Google’s Gary Illyes answered the question about whether there was a downside to using the .AI domain since it’s associated with the Caribbean island of Anguilla. His response may surprise you.
The Difference Between a gTLD and a ccTLD
There are two types of domain names: gTLD and ccTLD.
A gTLD, or Generic Top Level Domain, is not associated with any specific country and can be used worldwide.
Typical gTLDs include .com, .net, .org, .biz, .xyz, and more.
A ccTLD, or Country Code Top Level Domain, is associated with a specific country.
Examples of ccTLDs are .uk (United Kingdom) and .in (India).
Google uses ccTLDs to localize websites based on the associated countries. For example, if a website uses a .in TLD, Google recognizes it as relevant for people in India.
The .in TLD helps Google determine the country to which the domain name is relevant.
This aligns with users’ expectations of how the Internet works.
.AI is a ccTLD
Some ccTLDs have meanings that extend beyond the associated country. For instance, the island of Tuvalu uses .TV as its ccTLD, which is fitting for websites related to television.
Similarly, .AI is a ccTLD associated with Anguilla in the Caribbean.
Is it Okay for a Global Company to Use .AI?
Many wonder if it’s acceptable for a global company to use a ccTLD like .AI.
The concern is whether using .AI may unintentionally localize the website to Anguilla and hinder its ranking in other countries, such as the United States.
Google’s Gary Illyes provided an intriguing answer to this question:
“As of early June, 2023, we treat .ai as a gTLD in Google Search, so yeah, you can use it for your global presence!”
It may come as a surprise, as many companies already use .AI domains. Previously, however, .AI was considered a ccTLD by Google. The change to treat .AI as a gTLD was made in June 2023.
This emphasizes the importance of confirming how a chosen domain extension is treated by Google. Whether it’s considered a ccTLD or gTLD can impact a website’s ability to rank globally.
If Google treats a top-level domain as localized to a specific country, it could have negative consequences for the website’s ranking outside that country.
List of ccTLDs that Google Treats Like gTLDs
Google publishes a list of ccTLDs treated as gTLDs, which includes domains like .eu, .asia, .ad, .co, .fm, .tv, and of course, .ai.
This list isn’t exhaustive, as there are numerous ccTLDs treated as gTLDs by Google.
For more information, watch the Google SEO Office Hours from the 14:39 minute mark:
Featured image by Shutterstock/Krakenimages.com
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