The b4b marketing team often get asked if it’s best for website SEO to use the apparently new .uk and .co domains in place of the established .co.uk domain.
The answer is simple: yes and no!
Why is the .co domain popular in the UK?
The first point to clarify is that .uk, .co and .co.uk are all ccTLDs (Country Code Top-Level Domains) which are used to represent a geographical area to the visitor. The odd one out here is .co, which is actually the TLD of Colombia, so it seems like an odd choice for UK-vased companies to use for their domain name.
The .co domain has been available to the wider world since 2010 and the main beneficiary when a .co domain is sold is actually the Colombian government. In fact, many .co domains are a direct result of a great marketing campaign by the Colombian government!
The attraction of a .co domain name is its shortness – it does save three characters after all! – but beyond the obvious benefits to your fingers, there is no SEO reason to use a Colombian domain for a UK company. It can actually be confusing to the UK public, who may think that it’s a typo of .com or an incomplete .co.uk.
So, what’s the downside to using a .co domain in the UK? A few years ago, using a non-UK domain name when targeting UK traffic would have been bad, but search engines have updated their algorithms to make better use of other factors when determining geographical target.
There isn’t really a downside to using a .co domain, but there are certainly no upsides. We would recommend only purchasing if your coveted co.uk or .uk domains are unavailable, or you wish to prevent a rival from purchasing the domain.
Can I buy both the .co.uk and the .uk domain?
Yep. In fact, we would recommend buying both domains for protection.
What about .org.uk domains?
.org is short for “organisation”, so if your website will be serving a charity, club or non-profit organisation, then go ahead and register it.
Interesting .uk domain facts
- The .uk TLD (in all of its guises) is the fifth most popular TLD on the internet
- There are over 10,000 .uk domains registered
- The .co.uk domain has been available for purchase since 24th July 1985 but only available as a pure TLD since 2014
- All UK TLDs are administered by Nominet UK
- 73% of Consumers prefer a .co.uk domain over a .co domain when purchasing online from UK sites
Which UK TLD domain is best, .co.uk or .uk?
Now that we can ignore the .co domain, it is a straight fight between .co.uk and .uk – both are better than the generic .com TLD, so you can opt for either.
Since 2014, the .uk domain has been available as a pure TLD (with no “.co” prefix) – prior to this date the .uk was simply a suffix for UK domains (eg. .me.uk, .org.uk, .co.uk) and up until 2019 you could only purchase the .uk TLD if you already owned the .co.uk TLD. However, that protection has long since elapsed and you are free to register any .uk TLD (except governments and schools/universities, of course).
As far as SEO goes, neither TLD stands out – they are both inherently UK domains, and the days when the domain was used for geographical targeting have long gone. Therefore, the answer boils down to just two simple questions:
Is it for a new business without an online presence?
Buy both the .co.uk and .uk domains and use the .uk
Is it an established .co.uk online business?
Buy both and use the .co.uk and use the .uk as an alias.