When asked about the potential difficulties of using the .AI domains due to their affiliation with the Caribbean island of Anguilla, Google’s Gary Illyes addressed the issue during a Google SEO Office hours session. It was surprising to hear his reply.
Understanding the Difference Between ccTLD and gTLD
Domain names come in two varieties which are ccTLD and gTLD:
The acronym “ccTLD” stands for “Country Code Top-Level Domain,” which describes a TLD tied to a particular country.
For instance, domains like .uk and .in are examples of ccTLDs linked to the United Kingdom and India, respectively.
Google employs ccTLDs to cater websites to specific countries associated with those TLDs.
A.in domain, for instance, tells Google that the site is intended for Indian users.
By analyzing the ccTLD, like .in, Google can identify the country to which the domain is relevant.
This approach aligns with the general expectation of how the Internet should function for people worldwide.
A gTLD, “Generic Top-Level Domain,” is not tied to any specific country.
Common examples of gTLDs include .com, .net, .org, .biz, .xyz, and others. These domains are not restricted to any particular geographical location and can use anywhere in the world.
Is it Acceptable for a Worldwide Company to Utilize .AI?
The person inquiring wants to know whether using a ccTLD-like.AI is advisable. Their concern is whether adopting the .AI ccTLD could inadvertently associate their website with the island of Anguilla, potentially affecting its ranking in countries like the United States and other regions.
The query is as follows: “Does Google consider the.ai domain to be associated with the country of Anguilla, or is it suitable for a global company to use it as their gTLD?”
Unexpectedly, Google’s Gary Illyes answered the query.
The surprising aspect is that, despite .AI being a popular TLD used by many companies, it wasn’t always considered a gTLD by Google. However, this changed in June 2023 when Google started treating .AI as a gTLD, making it suitable for global use.
Suppose a top-level domain is perceived as localized to a specific country (ccTLD). In that case, it may hinder the website’s ability to rank well outside of the particular country it’s associated with. So, a gTLD-like.AI can now be a viable option for global companies without fearing localization limitations.
ccTLDs Treated as gTLDs by Google
Google has announced which ccTLDs it recognizes as gTLDs. The list includes domains such as .eu and .asia, which Google considers gTLDs. International domains like .ad, .co, .fm, .tv, and .ai are also treated as gTLDs.
It’s worth noting that the list comprises numerous ccTLDs that are treated similarly to gTLDs by Google.