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I am thinking of buying a .co domain as a .com is not available for my company name. While the .co is cleaner and shorter many of us have gotten used to .com.

  • Do users only remember the domain name and add the extension (com, net, co)?
  • Can a .co domain give a user the perspection that it is .com domain as they could subconciously assume by seen co ->m ?

This could have a negative impact as just adding a m to domain.co would get users to the wrong site, and email to the wrong site...

Should I stick with the "standard" or are there statistics that say otherwise ?

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2  
People do remember some non-dot-com extensions, but if you're a US or international site, a .com is definitely preferable –  Ben Brocka Jul 12 '12 at 18:24
3  
An important question is "Who is your target audience?". Some people may not be able to distinguish between .com and .co as well as others. –  DesignerGuy Jul 13 '12 at 5:58
5  
unless your website is targetted to Colombian market or that you're writing a URL shortener, I'd say not to use .co domain. –  Lie Ryan Jul 13 '12 at 9:52
    
@Justin Are you asking the same question? OP asks about *.co for a US site (or at least, instead of *.com); your bounty appears to be about using *.com for non-US sites. –  Andrew Leach Jul 8 '13 at 7:52
    
Try another TLD like .net –  Jop Vernooij Jul 8 '13 at 16:25

6 Answers 6

First, .co is a TLD intended for websites hosted in Colombia.

Second, users are habituated to .com. The missing m is perturbing, and many people will forget about the fact that instead of accessing a company website, they must go to a website with a Colombia-type name.

This being said, some well known companies, including Google or Twitter, reserved .co domain names for their use. Actually, it seems that they do it only to protect their customers, but they could also do it for two reasons:

  • Typing on a mobile device is hard. Typing t.co is much easier than twitter.com on a small tactile screen in a subway. Note that if you have to pick between example.com and example.co, the first one is faster to type even on mobile devices.

  • When there are billions of requests made to the APIs, shorter URIs provide a slight gain of performance and bandwidth usage¹.

Aside those two cases (both having a very limited scope), stick with a .com.

Also, note two things:

  • If somebody has already a website with <your company name>.com as the address and you want to create a <your company name>.co, think about legal consequences. In most countries, having the same name as your concurrent is illegal.

  • When the users don't remember what is the URI of your website, they will either type the name of your company in Google (most of the cases) or they will type the name of the company, followed by .com.


¹ Still, a developer must be cautious before opting in for short URIs for the API. For example it would be terribly stupid to create short URIs to reduce bandwidth, and at the same time send a 301-type response to the client, forcing it to redirect to the full URI.

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4  
When there are billions of requests made to the APIs, shorter URIs provide a slight gain of performance and bandwidth usage. Microoptimization? –  Lie Ryan Jul 13 '12 at 11:19
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@Lie Ryan: microoptimization is acceptable when you're Google. –  MainMa Jul 13 '12 at 12:02
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Once somebody visits companyname.com, it would be rather difficult for them to go to companyname.co due to the stubborn autocomplete feature in modern browsers. –  Pasha S Jul 8 '13 at 17:33
    
@PashaS +1 This can be a big annoyance. It's really the browser's fault, but there's no need to help it happen by having an obscure top-level domain. –  A.M. Jul 10 '13 at 14:31

If you are in the US then a .com is preferable. If not then the country specific is a good bet, e.g. .co.uk

If these aren't an option you can still overcome this by having very good SEO on your site as many users will only remember the domain name (e.g. google) and simply type that into the address bar/search engine and then select the top result. Obviously if the site that owns the .com is of similar nature then this could cause problems.

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"If you are in the US then a .com is preferable. If not then the country specific is a good bet, e.g. .co.uk" But why? –  Justin Jul 9 '13 at 7:06
    
I'd argue that in the UK, most people will default to .com rather than .co.uk - even the BBC know that and have bbc.com redirect to bbc.co.uk Some alternatives are companies like about.me, enthuse.me, bit.ly and so on. If you hear the name, it makes more 'sense' and you're more likely to remember those than domain.co –  Toby Vacher Jul 9 '13 at 10:00
    
That is true but the BBC isn't just a UK company, they do operate around the world so a .com is fitting. I agree that most people will just try .com first and go from there. –  AverageMarcus Jul 9 '13 at 10:04

Common country endings can be expected to be a local site (i.e. .de -- german, .fr -- french), trustworthiness ranks with general perception of trustworthiness of that country, for example users might shy away from .ru domains significantly mroe often than from .de

.co is probably not as well known to be Colombia, but might raise a few eyebrows and might be misleading for south americans.

Here are TLD usage stats. Unfortunately, data for country of domain "user" is not as readily available, otherwise we'd have at least an indicator whether others tend to prefer a .com domain. (Best I could find is this, but I don't know much about the internet to itnerpret these numbers).


There's another issue: in many browsers, entering a name and hitting Control+Return will go to the respective .com domain, e.g stackoverflow [Ctrl+Return] goes to http://www.stackoverflow.com


Generally, I'd rather go with a .com domain and a pre- or suffix for the name, rather than switch to .co

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It's a checkmate, I think. In my eyes, .co is not a good idea, users will mistype it, forget it and in the end will use it with .com.

In this situation, I would suggest (should it be possible, of course) to build the domain name based on the service name. It's a nice workaround and carves quite well in users' minds, methinks, because TLD in this case will be memorized as a part of the service name.

For example, .me or .us are some options (check http://contact.us or http://mobile.me - btw, not the Apple one). Another quite good is http://pl.ayli.st/.

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Given the price of a domain name, you should definitely buy as much versions of that domain as you can.

Even if you're US-based right now, if you get customers from other countries, they might type the country-specific extension they're used to. You might also want to buy similar names to avoid losing users due to typing mistakes.

For exemple, if your company is Hodor, you could try to buy:

  • hodor.co
  • hodor.com
  • hodor.eu
  • odor.com
  • hoddor.eu
  • ...
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User perception is only part of the issue.

  1. Typos can be a significant problem. This issue is part-in-parcel to the brand-recognition issue, and user bias toward 'seeing' a .com name.

  2. The second half of this issue is the search-automation problem. Indexing services are likely to mis-associate content from other domains, diluting your rankings.

If you go the route of choosing a name that is already taken in the .com space, you have an up-hill battle until you've reached broad public awareness of your name within your brand's space.

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