Successfully Ranking .co TLDs Today

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Has anyone successfully built a brand with a .co domain and is it possible to really win in the serps in a niche with this TLD today? I'm talking about from scratch, new domain, no power, not expired.This is assuming the .com is taken and in use or not in use.
 
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CCarter

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I'll just say this, I have a realtor friend that has a .CO and whenever she gives her website to clients, super high-net-worth clients, they attempt to correct her by saying you mean .COM and then she has to re-correct them that it is a .CO.

From a branding perspective she regrets it.

Last thing you want to do is confuse clients whenever they try to remember your email address and accidentally send your 5 or 6 figure commissioned contract to the wrong email.

She couldn't get the .COM, now she's in the process of rebranding. All those fancy .io, .ai, and other crap sound cool, .pizza - there are even emoji TLDs now, but the .COM will alway seem more serious and the "real brand" to users.

Imagine hearing from a professional you are about to pay big money to "yeah my email is blah-blah.NET."

".NET? I haven't hear that one in a long time." Someone will get the joke.
 
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This makes sense. I'll explain the reason I ask. I have a few generic 1-word .co domains (not in these niches or specific domains, but think Coffee.co and walk.co) and I was thinking of using them to build some affiliate sites, but you're right, likely not the best play. Perhaps they have even less value due to the inability to be trademarked. Not sure.
 

Potatoe

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I had a .co of a very generic word, where the .co.uk version is some massive org. I had people emailing in their passports and licenses, job applications, and all sorts of incredibly personal forms almost weekly. Even fucking staff members of that organization would accidentally send emails to my .co instead of their own coworkers. Like what?

In this example, that's actually more of a knock against the .com or .co.uk since they're the ones missing out on those important emails, but I mention this to illustrate that it's absolutely true that .co confuses people, and .co owners miss out on some number of emails that get sent to the .com when users try to "correct" it on their own ("Hmm, they must have meant .com when they wrote .co, so I'll add it in myself..."). The point is, email addresses still confuse people, and it can work against you in either direction, whether you have the .com or the .co.

(Sidenote: If you have an important business on .com and people email you and the leads are valuable, you should absolutely go register the .co and forward the emails.)

Even as a fan of .co in general, I would never want to use it for something where I'm telling my URL to people in person, or advertising on the radio, or bus benches, or anything that relies on them typing it in themselves. If people are clicking it, it's fine, I've yet to hear of a user who managed to fuck up clicking a link so badly that they went into the address bar and added an "m" after ".co".

All things being equal, .com is obviously far superior to any other extension and a top-tier .com gives you instant authority. But all things aren't equal (price, availability), so there are other considerations to keep in mind.

An incredibly skilled investor recently revealed he's very bullish on the extension, he picked up an insane portfolio of .co names (news.co, finance.co, business.co, hosting.co, men.co, internet.co, etc etc etc.) I'm not sure how Warren Buffet feels about .co, he stopped returning my calls after I sold my Casino Coins. He called me a pussy, too. It's okay. I'm fine.

Just depends what you're using it for. I think everybody would take news.co over, say, MyNewsNow.com. But it's not always that cut and dry...

If it's for some stinker SEO site I'd take a short, better .co like "clubs.co" or "fairway.co" instead of "MyJakesClubsForGolfHQ.com" but if this brand is going to exist outside of the SERPs or outside of the internet, you'll want to think about who your audience is and if they'll struggle with basic email. The answer is, almost certainly, yes they will struggle with basic email. So the next question is how much will they struggle, and how much does it matter? If you've got leads worth hundreds or thousands of dollars, I wouldn't want to risk losing a single one. If I miss out on a few "Hello friend, I love your website very much. Do you accept guest posts?" I'll live with that.

With an audience that's startup/tech related I'd be comfortable with .io for instance, but I wouldn't want to pay to have that on a bus bench.

In the above example, obviously you'd rather say "Clubs dot see oh" instead of some longass .com that they'll forget anyways. People are going to fuck it up before the dot or after, in some non-zero amount, no matter what your brand is.

On the other hand, if you have a chance for a perfect brand name for your business, and the only knock is that it's .co instead of .com, and it costs $50 for this word instead of $50k, you can look at how much media you can buy for the difference in price, and I reckon the amount you miss out on due to the missing "m" pales in comparison to how much you could grow with that extra money. But this isn't really relevant to your example, as your reply popped up as I was typing all this out...

Really though, and this is what it usually comes down to, is that you should be able to find a perfect .com for a few hundred bucks. Don't let the $2000 price tags scare you, make an offer if you find something that's a great fit.

I don't understand how people are planning to spend years of their lives working on a project but won't spend more than $10 upfront for a brand name. Then you'll hear that same old argument "Well Google didn't mean anything at first, either..." Cool, your website about golf clubs isn't Google, tho.

I'm not a big fan of the ngTLD's either, the registrars can get really sketchy. They get people on board, then they crank up the renewal prices a couple years later. It's happened before, I'm sure it'll happen again. My impression is that ccTLD's are more stable, but it can really depend on who is running them.

In OP's example, ultra premium and generic, short .co's for building affiliate sites is perfect. There's also some recent supreme court shit from the summer where "Generic.com" can be considered for a trademark now, I think it's related to a case with booking.com. I'm not versed in it at all, just skimmed headlines (which is 2020 criteria for being an expert on a topic but we're living the 2021 life now), but could be worth looking into if that's a concern - may not be a problem anymore.

TLDR: If you're going to sell houses, invest in a proper .com. If you're making an affiliate site, you're fine with .co and in some cases you're better off. A great .co is probably going to be better than any .com you'll handreg.
 
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Ryuzaki

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@mrpotato, to answer your direct question, Google doesn't have a bias towards any gTLD when it comes to rankings, of which the .co is included.

You'll see data about "well how come it's all coms, nets, and orgs that are ranking?" That's because that's what people have been buying for forever now. I used to say the same thing but once you start looking at mommy blogger niches you'll start seeing stuff like .kitchen ranking, etc.

There was a time when .info was shunned due to it being $1 per domain and being used by spammers like crazy. I don't know if that's been officially admitted, but I'm convinced they fought spam at one point by just hurting that extension. At the same time, I #1'd a .info for credit card terms back in the ALN days, so I know it's possible.

In terms of SEO, I think you're 100% good to go. I'd rather have the .com in general, but @Potatoe describes some scenarios where I'd be happy with the .co too, especially from a pure affiliate or display ad SEO standpoint and not worrying about company emails.
 

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Just to mention, that one of the most revolutionary companies of today have their site on freaking .so. notion.so. No one even heard about .so before. But they don't give a damn. Because they are freaking LEADERS.

As for ranking, Google also don't give a damn.