Most new websites tend to look for a domain name with a .com or .net TLD (Top Level Domain). They feel this gives the site a more professional appearance and will appeal to a more international audience and in many cases this is true. However, it can also be beneficial to look at purchasing a domain name with a country specific TLD.
There are a number of benefits that can be gained from choosing a domain name with a country specific TLD, especially if you conduct your business primarily in one particular country.
Search Engine Benefits
Most of the large search engines will give you a higher search ranking for a site that has the TLD of the searcher's country. For example, if someone from the United Kingdom is performing a search for widgets, a search engine will often rank widgets.co.uk higher than other sites selling the same product but doing so from a .com TLD.
Having a country-specific TLD will also allow you to be included in a lot of great country directories that stipulate that your domain name have a certain TLD. Getting your site into these directories can be a great way of improving your search engine ranking as these are one way links from authority sites for your chosen subject. These kind of links are graded much higher than reciprocal linking.
Having a country-specific domain will often give the buyer more confidence when making a purchase as they consider the site to be local, therefore governed under the same laws as the buyer. This makes it easier to follow up on sales and make complaints if any problems occur during the purchase of the product. It also helps to settle any nerves if the buyer is able to see a street address that they recognize, rather than a foreign address.
Sometimes the best policy is to purchase both a .com and a country TLD. This allows you to appeal to both international and national customers. The potential sales that you can get with a country domain TLD should not be overlooked as a small investment in an extra domain can bring big returns for you and your business.
Another benefit of having a country domain name is that you already know where your customer is likely to be from. This means that you can display products for that particular customer's region without having to ask the customer to select which geographic area they are in.
When a customer types in their country domain, you can forward them to your main domain name but display only products that will be of interest to them and have all the prices in their own currency. This gives the site a local feel and will again instill that buying confidence that is so important when trying to make a sale.
I hope that you've seen the importance of not overlooking this great opportunity to bring in extra customers by choosing a country-specific domain name, or by simply adding one as an extra name that points to your main domain name.