Why a dot CA (.ca) domain CAN BE a bad idea for Canadian businesses

by Amine Rahal

Let me start this article by saying that I have nothing against dot CA domains (.ca) and they are great . . . if (and only IF) you are 101% certain that you will never expand to international markets. Country Code Level Top Level Domains (CCTLDs for short) are great for local businesses that want to stay local and target local. The same goes for an Italian company buying a .IT or a French company buying a .FR domain. These CCTLDs will limit you to your local market for life, in more ways than one, and I'll explain why in this article.

Let me ask you this: do you know any American company using a dot US (.us) domain for their business? This domain extension exists, and yet no American company bothers with it. They almost always want the dot COM. Occasionally, they will settle for a .net, .co or .org, but they always want the .com first. In my opinion, this symbolizes quite well the American state of mind when it comes to doing business: we're not going after the US market alone, we're going after the world! 

Why are dot COMs superior?

There are three reasons why dot COMs are still superior to virtually every other country-level domain name extension and why I strongly recommend that Canadian businesses consider buying their brand's .COM if it's available:

1) Dot COMs rank in search engines WORLDWIDE, meaning if you're a business that sells maple syrup, and your domain name is www.johnnysmaplesyrup.com, your website will appear in Google's search results in ALL countries and regions, and  therefore you can get clients from the US, France or Japan finding you while googling for maple syrup on their local search engine. Now, if your domain name was www.johnnysmaplesyrup.ca, you have virtually no chance at ranking outside of Canada's searches (meaning outside of www.Google.ca) when someone searches for companies selling maple syrup on their local Google. Again, a TLD (Top Level Domain) like a .com, a .org or a .net will RANK anywhere on any regional version of Google, which is not the case for a CCTLD like .ca, .fr or .it.

2) Dot COMs are memorable and recognized internationally as the cream of the crop when it comes to domain name extensions. I don't care where you are in the world, you'll never meet someone that doesn't know what a .com is. But you WILL meet a lot of people that have never heard of .ca, .it or .co.uk! Dot coms are also especially popular with the older generation. Try telling someone over 60 that your company's website is www.bobbyschocolate.net. They will certainly type in www.bobbyschocolate.com on their computer when they get home that day. It happened to me many times in the past when I had a .NET domain name. I would get calls from prospects saying "hey I tried going to your website but it doesn't exist" and when I ask them to tell me exactly what they typed in their browser, I usually hear a dot com in the end. 

3) Last, but not least, they carry a certain prestige. People know that dot com extensions are scarce and that most good ones are taken, or are for sale for ridiculous amounts of money! Therefore, owning yourbrand.com is like owning a storefront on a popular downtown avenue. You get the respect that comes with it. 

Think About The Future Before Making a Decision

Again, I have nothing against .CA if you are a local company dealing strictly with local clients, but as a Canadian business owner, you MUST project yourself into the future and ask yourself whether the US or international markets will ever be on your radar. If the answer is yes, or even "perhaps" then buy your .COM right away, before someone else snatches it. Buy your .CA too but make one redirect to the other. That way you'll have that local flair, but you won't jeopardize your international expansion potential. 

About the author

Amine Rahal is a Canadian entrepreneur and author. He is a member of Forbes Communication Council and YEC. He enjoys writing about the topics of entrepreneurship, marketing, technology, fintech & self-growth. His content can be found on multiple publications including Forbes, INC, Thrive Global and others. Amine is currently the CEO at Little Dragon Media, a Toronto based web design and digital marketing agency that helps Canadian small businesses with their online presence through cutting edge graphic design, website design and search engine marketing.