Business SE Optimization Website Traffic

International SEO: What’s the Best Domain Extension?

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You’re a successful business owner, with a smooth running business and you work well with your SEO.

Over the last few years, your Google Analytics reveals a higher proportion of your site’s visitors that are coming from a few specific countries. During the last few months, there has also been a substantial increase in contact request mails from those same countries.

Be honest with yourself. For a very long time you have been dreaming about, what comes next… which means going big, going International.

It’s a golden opportunity to grow your business.

With the proper international SEO work, your website can continue to grow, increase the number of potential customers and convert pretty well.

What’s the next step?

There are many possibilities for your site to acquire new customers, but you need to consider all aspects to make the right decision, including technical and organizational ones.

You have a bunch of possibilities:

  • Register a domain name for each country, like, and
  • Implement subdomains, like, and
  • Add some subfolders to your current website, like, and

What’s the right solution for your business?

To answer this question you should consider how you work internally and who your customers are. I’ll now guide you through this process, so you can pick the one that best suits you.

Consider the Technical Resources

First, you need to review your resources in terms of budget, technical skills, time of your team to dedicate to manage this new project, and scalability.

For example selling software is very different from selling tools of design. 

If you want to internationalize your business, these are things you need to consider (if you 

haven’t already).

Technical Skills

Below I’ve listed some technical business scenarios:

  • You’ve got a great tech and content team, they’re in charge of all the aspects of the site. They implement new functionalities, keep it safe, update the contents, the product pages, etc.
  • The tech activities (and most of the content) is outsourced, they built your site, manage all the technical aspects and you pay them a monthly or yearly fee. You also provide them with the content and they optimize and upload it.
  • Your site was built a few months, or years, ago. When it comes to technical activities, you call the IT guys from an external agency and they fix it. No more than that, you don’t need them many times.
  • You’re using a SaaS system, like Shopify, BigCommerce or Big Cartel. 
  • You just upload content, use one of their graphics templates, and it works pretty well.

Going international, with the best SEO input, can significantly alter how the technical activities work and how you deal with them. You can buy and manage new localized domain names, create some sub-domains or sub-folders, and manage the site differently.

But to go live you’ll need a number of new technical implementations, which may necessitate hiring a new developer or outsourcing all work for your international SEO.

Let’s Analyse the Possibilities

  • Local domains:,,

Local domain names (known as ccTLD, Country Code Top-Level Domain) such as, .de or .fr tend to better rank for the relevant country.

They’re well considered by users, as they make sure that the page is tailored in terms of language and the market. In some ways Google tends to be influenced by the domain extensions, and gives them enhanced visibility in the relevant market.

Whilst this is not absolute, it’s something you should consider. As a person living in France and speaking French, I’d prefer a .fr domain, because it gives me a greater level of trust – remember, it’s all about “me” as a user.

Every domain name would need to create its own credibility, authority, and off-site work. This means you should dedicate a team or a certain amount of their time to each of the UK, German and French websites. Each site should stand alone and be only slightly connected with the others when planning what resources you should assign.

  • Subdomains:,,

A .com domain name with subdomains can help improve the company branding and trust 

afforded it. One single domain can help to keep everything under the same property. 

You can also tell Google that each site is for a specific country.

Just like local domain names, they make the user conscious that the site is for their market and language.

As well as the other option, each website needs its own credibility, authority, and off-site work. You should reserve time and resources for each subdomain to be able to create their own authority. Technically speaking, they’re seen as different domains from Google as well, so they can be compared to the country level domains.

  • Subfolder:,,

A .com domain, with a subfolder for each country, can be the easiest way to manage an international SEO project. You assign each folder to the relevant country and work on a single domain authority with multiple activities.

A single domain with subfolders can get the site relevancy, backlinks and authority from different markets. Brand name trust is built in different countries. You can also optimize and scale the resources you assign to the domain name, and grow, in multiple countries.

From a technical perspective, this can be the quickest solution, but a number of technical aspects (which are not the topic of this article) should also be considered.

Your Customers

The best solution, besides considering how many resources you can work with, requires you to analyze the market you’re targeting. This is essential and  will affect your future work.

The following are two of the activities I’d suggest you do:

1. Check Google

Localize ( yourself in your target cities and countries and search for the keywords related to your business, in the local language. Be as narrow as possible with product and category product names, but also work broader searching for topics related to your business, like how-tos, guides, interviews, manuals and so on. It’s imperative to create the kind of content to get your users and build backlinks.

Check what kind of websites come up in the search engine results page. Are most of them .de in Germany, in UK, and .fr in France? You should consider using a,, domain name.

Are the results a mix of local domains and generic Top Level Domains (gTLD such as .com, .net, .org, .etc)? You should consider going for a .com domain with subfolders.

Are the results different? In some countries, most of them are country-based domains and other .com, .net, etc. Here you can consider tailoring according to the country you will work with.

2. Test your customers

Find out if your potential customers are willing to convert – read your articles, buy your products, provide you with their email, ask for a demo – to local domains or generic ones. Find out what’s their perception of this.

You can perform this kind of research with local people or test different Google Ads campaigns.


There’s no definitive answer. You should consider resources, the time you can invest in your new project, your budget, and how you plan to manage it.

But you also need to make a very informed choice. You must know who your potential customers are, how they behave, and how many possibilities you have to get your pages ranked on Google and the other search engines – remember, Google is not always the main search engine.

About the author


Francesco Baldini

Francesco Baldini is an SEO Consultant with over 10 years experience in the field, most of which were spent as a consultant in agencies, working with e-commerce, content, leads generation, bloggers websites, with domestic and international brands. He currently lives in Dublin, Ireland. He can be can be contacted at - (and yes, you can do it now!).