Patti wrote a comment on my blog this morning regarding .CO domain names that I want to share with you and get some additional feedback from others:
“If I had known that .co was a Colombian registration I don’t think I would have hand-regged so many.“
Yes, .CO is the ccTLD for the country of Colombia. It is similar in nature to .TV, which is the ccTLD for the country of Tuvalu and .ME, which is the ccTLD for the country of Montenegro.
While all three of the TLDs cited above are in fact ccTLDs, Google treats them as if they are gTLDs like .com, .net, .org…etc. This means that with all things being equal, Google might rank a .TV or .ME website over a .com website for searchers around the world, and not just where the ccTLD is located. Google doesn’t treat all ccTLDs as generic TLDs, so I don’t believe Italy’s .IT ccTLD, for example, would have the same search benefits at this time. You can read about this in Google Webmaster Tools and you can see the list of TLDs Google treats as generic.
There certainly could be political risks with ccTLD domain names that wouldn’t likely exist with other TLDs. A country’s political stability (or lack thereof) could have an impact on the operations of the TLD. Additionally, depending on the operating registry’s deal with the government, the government likely gets some of the revenue from domain registrations. From the looks of it, most of the ccTLDs that Google treats as gTLDs are in politically stable countries (.LY and .SY aren’t as an example).
With all of this being said, I am curious if you care if a TLD is actually a ccTLD if Google doesn’t treat it like it’s a ccTLD. With this in mind, another question is will you pay attention to the operators of new gTLDs since they will be run by private entities all over the world.