By 2020 the number of internet users worldwide is expected to surpass five billion. This will be 64% of the planet, a huge jump from the .04% of us who were online back in 1995 and the 46% online today. These vast numbers are supported by a growing domain name space.
While there’s been a lot of attention paid to new gTLDs, the growth in domain name registrations has also been powered by the growth of country-code top-level domains known as ccTLDs. There are over 300 million registered domain names of which almost half are ccTLDs. The most popular ccTLDs are .cn (china), .de (Germany), and .co.uk (United Kingdom).
Unlike gTLDs, ccTLDs are not regulated by ICANN. In fact each country has jurisdiction over their own ccTLD and each local registry establishes their own policies and procedures. Some registries require a local presence within their country, others require trademarks, and others require notarized signed documentation. This can make it difficult for some companies to secure their brand in a particular TLD. Registries around the world might be a non-profit organization, a local university or Government Agency. Some have a full time staff while others are one-man operations.
More registries are moving to industry standard practices. This means most now support EPP or automation; transfers with an auth code rather than email approval; unrestricted registrations, and sophisticated security features such as Registry Locking.
Several registries have launched new extensions within an existing TLD. For example, you can now register ‘yourcompany.uk’ in addition to ‘yourcompany.co.uk’. More registries are implementing this option. If budget allows, we recommend brands register both options to prevent brand confusion.
Some ccTLDs such as .ASIA, .FR, .IE and several others offer registration of one- or two-character domain names which are often considered premium within the domain market. Short domain names can be used as a URL shortener and offer advantages such as brand promotion in social media.
Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs)
Internationalized Domain Names, or IDNs, allow users to access domain names in their local language. IDNs can include characters with diacritical marks or characters from non-Latin scripts, such as Chinese or Arabic. IDNs have traditionally been available in select TLDs but only to the left of the dot, IDN.COM for example. Brands can now register domains that are based on a local language across the entire domain, such as IDN.IDN.
A localized strategy that includes IDNs allows brands to offer a more personalized experience. However, our data shows that less than 1% of corporate domain portfolios are comprised of IDNs.
We recommend working with your local office to make sure any IDNs are translated correctly.
ccTLD Portfolio Strategies
There’s a host of reasons to invest in ccTLDs. They play a critical role in a global strategy. It’s important to have a web presence in countries where brands conduct business or expects to conduct business and geographic locations where you have offices. This allows you to generate ecommerce revenue worldwide and support worldwide sales and marketing efforts.
To access a recording of a recent webinar where this topic is discussed in more detail click here. Stay tuned for future webinars where we’ll take a more in depth look at ccTLDs.