ccTLD: Definition, Meaning, and Usage
Country Code Top Level Domains are extensions specifically designated to the respective country. These TLDs generally indicate the region or language of the website’s content. Every domain has two characters from the Latin alphabet and is categorized as ccTLD. Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) regulates the allocation of all ccTLDs. The guidelines for registering any ccTLDs are up to each country. In addition to that, ICANN has also assigned ccTLDs to dependent territories that are geographically separated from the parent country. Some examples of the most common ccTLDs are:
In addition to the standard ccTLDs, countries also have more variants to the same ccTLD that don’t use Latin alphabets. Basically, IDN ccTLDs use the country’s native non-Latin script. For example, Sri Lanka; the standard ccTLD is .lk, IDN ccTLD is .ලංකා and .இலங்கை are also used to refer to Sinhalese and Tamil. China; the standard ccTLD is .cn, and .中国 translates to ‘china’ in Chinese. Based on the ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 country codes, each country has its own domain extension. This means that all ccTLDs are only two characters, and all two-character TLDs are ccTLDs. The first ccTLDs delegated were .US for the United States, .UK for the United Kingdom, and .IT for Italy in 1985. There are more than 200 ccTLDs in total. An advantage of this is, by looking at the ccTLD, it becomes easy for the search engine to identify the country of a business.
Some ccTLDs are allowed to be used only by the citizens of the country. One such example would be Canada. Ca. Many other countries have open registration policies. Some ccTLDs have branded themselves for alternative usage. Tuvalu’s .TV domain which is branded for online video use would be an example. Since some ccTLDs are more often used in a general way, Google and other search engines see them as “gccTLDs” instead.
For some ccTLDs, direct registrations are not allowed. Only a domain can be registered on the second level of the ccTLD. This second level is named SLD i.e country-code second-level domain. Some ccTLDs offer both direct registrations and SLDs. An example of an SLD would be .CO.UK and .CO.IN (both of these ccTLDs also allow direct registrations on .UK and .IN).
What are open ccTLDs?
Open ccTLDs refer to ccTLD domain names that can be registered by anyone regardless of the country they reside in. These ccTLDs generally represent a particular branding opportunity aside from the country or the territory it represents. Some examples of Open ccTLDs are:
Here is a shortlist of popular country-code top-level domains
Benefits of ccTLD
With the help of ccTLDs, users and search engines get to know that the TLD belongs or is targeted to a specific country. Let’s take an example if xyz.com, xyz.us, and xyz.fr are the three domains for a particular business. If the user is a resident of the USA, then xyz.us will likely rank better in this American user’s SERP than xyz.com or xyz.fr.
Another advantage of using ccTLD is that these extensions are made of only two characters. Having a shorter extension adds an advantage if you have a long domain name making your website presentable as well as easy to remember.
Most businesses have a .com website as well as a website with specific ccTLD based on their location. This gives the customers two variations. If you wish to purchase a ccTLD, do check domain pricing and reach out to us for more information on domain reselling.