If you’re going to test the international waters with your current ‘well-stablished’ website, I’m sure you’ve had this discussion within your development and marketing team. Let’s say you have an established domain at www.site.com, the question is: What is the best way to target specific countries?
- Subdomains: uk.site.com, es.site.com, fr.site.com, etc
- ccTLD: site.co.uk, site.es, site.fr
- Subfolders: site.com/uk/, site.com/fr/, site.com/es/.
This discussion is one of the most important one for any International SEO Strategy, as it represents the foundation of the strategy, meaning that once you take one road, it would be harder to move back to a different option.
Going with the ccTLD
From our experience, the best way to go would be option number 2 (ccTLD). The reason is that for International SEO and for geo location issues, the local TLD is the safest bet. Another important point that you should take into consideration is that usually ccTLDs get a higher click through rate percentage than generic domains (when searching in a specific country)
The cons of the option number 2, is that it would be slightly more expensive and more challenging to implement, as you would need to get a separate domain for each site and handle the registration of each domain individually.
Another major drawback, specially at the beginning, is that you would be starting from scratch in terms of link building, so it may take a while for you to get things started with the links, but in the long term it would pay off, specially if you manage to get some links with the same ccTLD.
Subfolders vs Subdomains
The second best option would be the usage of subfolders. The main reason is that the links obtained to the subfolder might increase the overall authority of the site, which might not be the case with the usage of subdomains.
The main advantage of the usage of subdomains is that most of the times they are the fastest to implement. Also, if you choose this solution, you will be able to set the geo location of the page in the webmaster tools.
So take in consideration all this factors before choosing any of the 3 options to move forward in the right way with your International SEO Strategy!