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Note: This is similar, but unrelated, to this question, which asks about using a non-US TLD for a US site.

Do country specific TLDs influence users' perception of the relevance of content on a site? Is this more pronounced on a community information site than, say, an ecommerce site?

Put another way, if presented with two equally relevant search results, will users tend to prefer the site that has a country-specific top level domain (.com.au say) over the one sporting a generic domain (.com)?

Google's own policy of not privileging local TLDs over .com sites outside of the US provides a prima facie argument that it doesn't matter to users (after all, Google is in the business of providing the most relevant results to users), but it's not clear whether that policy is skewed to favour global ecommerce (which would be understandable).

So it's not clear whether it properly reflects user perception of local community sites.

Obviously, this is a difficult question to provide evidence for, one way or another, but this is a call for evidence, if such exists.

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I would think it depends a lot on the country, especially considering the fact that ccTLD are also managed differently from country to country. –  Gala Jul 11 '13 at 22:05

2 Answers 2

I work in the central team of a corporation operating in 60+ markets and we have consistent feedback from local marketing teams that in countries with a low level of English as a second language that .com is a less preferred to the local equivalent (.fr, .es, .it etc).

This is because users have been 'educated' that a .com on a SERP or elsewhere is less likely to contain content they can readily understand than their local equivalent TLD. Not therefore an empirical study but a consensus among local experts.

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I am unable to provide evidence but I do have some theory. I would suggest using a local TLD if your target market is specifically from one country. It lets the user know the site is local before they have visited it, and there will be no confusion as to whether the content applies to them in their country - they will have already presumed it will.

The exceptions to this would be if the local TLD is used for other purposes (.co, .tk, .tv, etc).

If you are expecting world users to visit your site, and the content not being particularly region-specific, then I would suggest using a generic tld - as they may presume you only are relevant to the country with the TLD.

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Welcome to UX.SE! Please check out the faq and tour pages to learn about the best ways to use this community! This doesn't actually answer the question OP asked, which is whether the TLDs influence users. If you have an answer to that question, please reword your answer. –  norabora Jul 11 '13 at 19:40

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