Which Domain is Best for Business?
This is another question that I get asked quite regularly. As a Canadian business owner you’ve probably struggled with this same question; “Is it better to have a .CA or .COM web address?” There are some key benefits and considerations for either option. Let’s discuss them below.
Why should you register a .CA domain name?
Establishes your brand as 100% Canadian
Having a .CA domain name will immediately identify you as a Canadian business or brand. Registering a .CA domain name requires that the owner provide proof of a Canadian presence. You must be either a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, or Canadian business to register a .CA domain name. Another important factor to consider is that Canadians statistically have a greater affinity for the .CA domain name as opposed to .COM or other extensions. Current data at the time of writing this article suggests that the majority of Canadian consumers prefer to shop or deal with a .CA website.
Instills buyer confidence
If you run an online store selling Canadian products directed at Canadian consumers a .CA domain is a natural fit. The CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority) performs annual research that continues to support the findings that consumers feel more buyer confidence when shopping on .CA domains. Shopping on a .CA domain also tells the user that the prices shown should be in Canadian Dollars and likely will not be subject to additional taxes or duties that they might incur while shopping on a .COM domain.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is improved within Canada
Having a .CA domain name will help improve your search engine ranking within Canadian search results. Someone using Google.ca for example is more likely to pick up relevant search results from a .CA domain as opposed to a .COM one. Click through rates are also generally higher on a .CA search listing when being viewed by Canadian consumers.
You are supporting community investment
The CIRA sets aside a portion of all .CA domain sales to put into their Community Investment Program. This investment program is used to fund “innovative community projects to build a stronger, safer and more accessible internet for all Canadians.” At the time of writing this article, the Community Investment Program has funded 130 different projects and distributed 5.45 million dollars. Your small monetary investment by purchasing a .CA domain goes a long way to helping to support this nationwide initiative.
Source: CIRA Twitter
Why should you register a .COM domain name?
You are an international business with customers outside of Canada
If you run an online store or service that deals with customers outside of Canada you should consider also purchasing a .COM domain extension. In addition, you may want to look at other regional domain extensions based on where your customer base is located. Wikipedia has a comprehensive list of top-level domains for different regions. You may want to consider having alternate versions of your site based on the domain extension being viewed. Think of Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / Amazon.co.uk as an example of this. This will allow your prices, shipping policies and more to be tailored to the customer base you are targeting.
Protect your brand identity
It is common practice to purchase a .COM or .CA and use that as your primary domain for your website but then to also purchase the same name in other common extensions. For example, BP MediaWorks provides services to clients across North America and beyond so we chose to use a .COM as our primary extension. However, we also own the .CA extension to protect our identity. If we ever choose to use that .CA for a Canadian specific website we now have that option. It is a small annual fee to protect our name and to ensure that nobody can create a website under that name that could potentially confuse our clients.
If you are a Canadian business with Canadian consumers the .CA domain extension is going to be the best pick in almost all scenarios. But it is still a very good idea to also purchase the .COM extension to help protect your brand and allow the option for future use. Always check your domain name in multiple extensions before registering to see if the .COM and .CA are both available. I don’t recommend purchasing .CA domains when the .COM equivalent is taken. This can cause confusion with consumers if they are typing in your address from memory. They might assume it was a .COM and end up at the wrong business website.
For domain registrations we always recommend GoDaddy for great prices and ease of use. GoDaddy is currently running a promotion on .CA registrations with the first year being only $2.99 when you pre-pay for 2 years or more.