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What is the difference between gTLD and ccTLD

What is the difference between gTLD and ccTLD?

Are you undecided on whether to take up a gTLd or ccTLD? Many users looking to increase their visibility both locally and globally are at loggerheads as to which type of top level domain to choose for their website.

So what is exactly the difference between the two entities? Let us see in detail about the two TLDs so you are clear about which one would be perfect for you.

About TLD

Before you find out the difference between gTLD and ccTLD, you should know about TLD first. TLD stands for Top Level Domain. While using domain name, whether it is via an email address or web address, the name ends in a TLD or Top Level Domain. This is the ending part of the domain name. The common TLDs you see include .com, .net, .org etc.  For instance in the address, www.forbes.com, the .com specifies the TLD.

TLD is basically divided into two main types:

  1. gTLDs (Generic top level domains)
  2. ccTLDs (Country code top level domains)

The TLDs which form the root in a DNS (Domain Name System) are governed by IANA ( Assigned Numbers Authority) which is operated by ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. The complete list of present TLDs can be viewed at https://www.iana.org/domains/root/db

Second-Level Domain

This is the section of domain name present before TLD and separated from it by the dot. The second level domains are those that you can register with a specific registrar. In www.forbes.com, Forbes stands for the second level.

Third level

This is the section that is present prior to the second level, which in the example provided above is www. This is how levels in a domain are classified.


gTLD (Generic Top-Level Domain) is a domain which is not connected to a particular country. The name generic is used because this type of domain can be used by any person worldwide. The gTLDs such as .org, .gov, .com, .net etc. were the original TLDs and the total number of such TLDs is 22formed as part of expansion of the original gTLDs, and this is prior to the new gTLDs, which is being currently developed.


ccTLD(Country Code TopLevel Domain)

The ccTLD constitutes TLDs made of two letters, which are allocated to different countries based on the country codes list under ISOC 3166. Some countries have opted to use their ccTLD for domains present within their geographic territory or country.

There are others who are against registration of second level domains next to the TLD. They require registration of domain names as third level under the various second levels of domains present. For instance in the UK, you have to register your domain in the form of .co.uk or .org.uk. This is a form of duplication of original gTLD format inside the ccTLD form.

However not all countries use such restrictions. Countries like Montenegro, Tuvulu, etc. allow their domains to be used by their country people without any such restrictions. Basically if you have a TLD of two letters, it is mostly a ccTLD of some country.

The main difference

With gTLDs, there is no specific country or geographic designation. The domain names that end with such TLDs are not targeted at any specific location or country. In simple words, the gTLDs are neutral.

With ccTLDs, you have a specific country or geographic designation. It is targeted to a specific region or country. For instance .co.in, .fr, .com.au all are country specific ccTLDs.

If you are looking to target customers of a specific country or region, the ccTLD is a good choice. If you are looking to expand your market globally, gTLD is the ideal choice.

How does TLD influence SEO

You should be aware that your TLD can impact the SEO of your website markedly. Search engines do not consider both as equal. Since gTLD indicates neutrality and ccTLD indicates specific country or region, search engines consider this as an important criterion for ranking.

Since search engines always aim at providing relevant content, your ccTLD will rank high for the specific country or region it belongs, but may not even appear in the search results for other countries. For instance for the search entry, ‘Fruit shops’ the ranking will be different for different regions.

https://www.google.com/search?q= fruit shops



The websites that feature in the search engine rankings in each of the above search version will differ and will be related to the specific location’s ccTLD. Here the incidence of gTLD domain names will be rare. Search engines always provide content that is most relevant assuming that a user will find the websites nearer to her or him the most helpful.

Optimising gTLD for a specific region is possible. Here is how you can do it:

If you have a gTLD domain like .com and want to target it to Russia, you can do it in Google easily. First login to Google Webmaster tools. Select your website by clicking on it. Now click on the settings icon present on the right upper corner. You can now select the country you wish to specifically target. You will start seeing the change in your rankings in a few weeks.

Neutralising ccTLD

While you can optimize a gTLD to specific country, it is not possible to convert the specific ccTLD to a neutral or even change it to another country. This is not achievable even by changing server location. But your website can rank in various other locations, if the content you have is unique and not available anywhere else. Otherwise you will gain only secondary preference mostly.

So in conclusion, the type of TLD you choose depends on the customers you want to target. If it is a particular country you want to target, ccTLDs are best. If you want to widen your target audience to an entire continent, use continent domains such as .eu, .asia etc. In other cases, a gTLD is the ideal option. You can also create different versions for different countries such as Google.co.in, Google.co.uk etc. If you are targeting US and other related markets, it is best to choose gTLD as your chances of being visible in the search engine results is more than with a ccTLD. This is because Google and other search engines limit ccTLDs to the particular countries to deliver maximum server speed. Servers of a particular country will be able to show results quicker this way.