The .co vs .com TLD debate – Which is better for SEO?

If you ask Matt Cutts, Google’s head of the Search Web Spam Team, he’ll tell you that they’re treated identically. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t indirect SEO issues…

Translation: Google treats .co just like any other TLD (including .com).

I’m actually starting a new project using .co – m43.co (short for the Micro Four Thirds camera system). I actually own 43mirrorless.com which is arguably just as good from a branding perspective but I elected to go with the former because like the Micro Four Thirds camera system – it’s simple.

And with Google showing less characters in the title tag, it’s nice to have a 3 letter brand and a shorter url as opposed to a longer one. Think about that.

Let’s use my personal domain, and this blog post as an example. The title tag for this post is:

The .co vs .com TLD debate – Which is better for SEO?

That’s already 53 characters. I wouldn’t be even be able to add my name without it being cut off in the SERPS. On my personal blog there isn’t much of a need to add my name to the title tag, but on a business that’s different story.

If you’re Amazon, the world’s most popular eCommerce store – they add their name to every title tag (and rightfully so). That’s a 6 letter brand. eBay is 4 letters. Walmart – 7. Target – 6. The list goes on. Come to think of it, the most popular eCommerce store with the most amount of characters is 9 – overstock.com, and they even made the bold move to switch to a single letter – o.co, though that backfired. Although it wasn’t related to SEO, more due to customer outrage and branding issues.

If you can’t find a short, memorable .com domain – then it’s wise to consider .co.

The issue I’ve found is I’ve accidentally used spelled out m43.com instead of m43.co when signing up for online services. Just twice in as many months. But if I can do it – so can bloggers, journalists, etc. And we all know backlinks are the strongest driver for SEO.

Another issue is email, if you don’t own the .com as well for forwarding, their are many people unfamiliar with .co that when typing out emails they habitually spell out .com.

What do you guys think? Would like to hear your thoughts below…

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