The difference between a .ca and .com (the top level) domain and the effects on your brand appears subtle. It can have an effect on your SEO, so depending on the industry you are in and mid-long term business goals.
In a Perfect World
If possible, take both the .com and .ca for your domain extension. Domain names are less than $15/year – great value to ensure no one takes the other domain, protecting your brand.
When you purchase both domains, you will want your Webmaster to create a 301 redirect to the other domain. This has SEO benefits in that each redirect will create some ‘link juice’ to aid in boosting your ranking in Google search results.
Test Your Website’s SEO
Simply add your website, a keyword you’d like to be found for and hit Scan. A full in-depth report will be sent to your e-mail. Add a competitor to get more insights!
Who is Your Target Market?
If you have a business focusing solely on Canadian customers, then using the .ca TLD will have local geo-targeting benefits in the search engines. When somebody uses Google.ca rather than Google.com the search results will favor .ca web addresses.
If you are looking to serve customers in the USA and further abroad you will most likely want to lean towards the .com TLD. The .com is recognized worldwide. Whether people know .ca stands for Canada or not, they tend to associate this TLD with local services.
Takeaway: .ca is like putting a Canadian flag up outside your house abroad, you are signaling you are Canadian to the world.
What Do You Want Google Webmaster To Think?
As a default, Google Webmaster considers your .com site as international, however, you can associate your website with Canada by letting them know. This will aid in local search traffic.
TLD Competition Overall
The number of .com domain names dwarfs .ca domains, therefore, it is easier to be found in localized search terms with a .ca address than worldwide search terms.
Consider Your Target Market Stereotypes
Consumer preferences can impact bounce rates, user engagement on websites and conversions. While older generations may not be so aware of the difference between .com and .ca, you can get niches with a loyal market heavily favoring .ca over .com.
Takeaway: What generation is your target audience from and what traits do they contain in relation to Canada and the worldwide.
Where Are Your Back Links Coming From?
If you are being linked to in local search results but want to start moving further abroad consider where your backlinks are coming from. If they are primarily .ca addresses, Google favors your site further towards local search results. Start gaining (with whitehat SEO) backlinks from .com domains to move up Google.com search results.
If you are still confused as to what is best for your situation, choosing the .com is probably best. The general consensus is .com is more recognizable than .ca (or any other variation). Having traffic go to a competitor’s site is never fun after all.
Whether you are a big or small business gaining organic traffic via SEO is great. Consider the above arguments and write down the pros and cons of each.
Do You Really Want To Dominate SEO for Google.ca?
Marwick Marketing is Canada’s leading SEO agency. Certified as a Premier Google Partner Agency, we drive excellent SEO results. Marwick Marketing is also the highest rated SEO agency in Canada. Check out our reviews on Google. Contact us today and see how we can improve your SEO to increase your business online.