An Appeal to Google: Make “.io” a gccTLD

Update: Google has added “.io” to the list of gccTLDs – thanks Google for the very quick response!

I will preface this by saying I am not an SEO expert – I am going off of a night’s worth of research on geo targeting in SEO.

When we decided to go with the name Clay.io, we weren’t thinking too much about SEO. It turns out it has had somewhat of an effect as “.io” domains are still considered ccTLDs (Country Code Top Level Domains) by Google, rather than gccTLDs (Generic Country Code Top Level Domains).

The Problem

It would appear “.io” specifically targets the British Indian Ocean Territory (a series of islands in the Indian Ocean with a whopping population of 3,000) – much like .co.uk would target the United Kingdom. “If no information is entered in Webmaster Tools, we’ll rely largely on the site’s country domain”. (source)

Google doesn’t do this for all TLDs however:

Generic top-level domains (gTLDs) don’t target specific countries. If your site has a generic top-level domain, such as .com, .org, or any of the domains listed below, and targets users in a particular geographic location, you can provide us with information that will help us determine how your site appears in our search results. (source)

When it mentions “any of the domains listed below” it includes gccTLDs, an acronym Google seems to have coined.

Current gccTLDs

These are the current gccTLDs that are treated as generic domains.

.as   .bz   .cc   .cd   .co   .dj   .fm   .la   .me   .ms   .nu   .sc   .sr   .tv   .tk   .ws   (source)

I’d argue “.io” in 2013 is more popular than at least 10 of those, so it would seem the list is simply outdated and someone at Google just needs this as a reminder to update it.

Does Google Even Control This?

They appear to have coined the gccTLD acronym, and that list of domains above is only reference by Google, so it would appear so.

How Much Does It Matter?

It’s hard to say because it’s a difficult thing to test. The information I found on the issue ended up contradicting itself, mostly because Google keeps their ranking algorithms a secret, so the “SEO experts” speculate a whole bunch (which I suppose I’m doing as well). The easiest way to prove it matters is simply the fact that gccTLDs exist. Google decided to create a subcategory of ccTLDs for domains that tend to be generic (global).

Even if ccTLDs and gccTLDs were treated exactly the same in terms of ranking, Google does not take into account the Geographic target set in Webmaster Tools. Own a “.io” domain and want to target towards US searchers? It doesn’t work.

I wanted to come up with a good concrete example of the effect, but that’s difficult to do. The reason this all came about is I was a bit perplexed when Socket.IO didn’t show up on the first page of Google search results for “WebSockets”. I think it’s safe to say most developers who use WebSockets associate the term with Socket.IO since it provides easy integration, and some helpful fallbacks. Despite that, it is 19th in the results for “WebSockets”. Again, since I don’t know all the factors, I have no idea how much that would differ if “.io” was a gccTLD – but it appears to have an effect.

Companies Using “.io”

GitHub*, Filepicker, Codepen, Socket.IO (LearnBoost), Sencha*, Pen.io, Redis, Forecast, Intercom, Put.io, Customer.io, Trigger.io, Keen.io, Filecloud, and many more.

The TLD has become common for development related sites, initially because it’s an acronym for Input/Output, but more recently the popularity is probably due to herd behavior. Unlike .tk domains which are free (and actually gccTLDs), .io domains cost anywhere from $50 to $100 per year, so that filters out the junk pretty well.

Take Action

If you know someone who might be able to help with this at Google, I would appreciate it, and I’m sure the founders of other “.io” companies (Filecloud.io, Filepicker.io, Codepen.io, Forecast.io, Intercom.io, etc…) would too.

Another to take action would be to make this appeal more visible to others – tweet, vote up on Hacker News, Reddit, etc…

One final way to possibly draw attention to this would be to rate this Google article as “Not helpful at all”, perhaps that will flag it for Google’s attention.

Thank you!

 

  • yeah

    serves you fucking right for not using .com

    • ikt123

      Yeah, I know personally that GitHub*, Filepicker, Codepen, Socket.IO (LearnBoost), Sencha*, Pen.io, Redis, Forecast, Intercom, Put.io, Customer.io, Trigger.io, Keen.io, Filecloud, and many more are ALL suffering from using .io.

      Serves them right! You sure showed them!

      Where did this retarded high horse brigade come from?

      • Michael Wally

        Just because abuse is common does not make it right.

        • ikt123

          Never said it was.

    • http://www.facebook.com/mattapitts Matthew Pitts

      Idiot

  • Ian Rose

    “Even if ccTLDs and gccTLDs were treated exactly the same in terms of ranking, Google does not take into account the Geographic target set in Webmaster Tools. Own a “.io” domain and want to target towards US searchers? It doesn’t work.”

    How do you know? Is this just an educated guess based on examining search results?

  • http://about.me/tudorconstantin Tudor Constantin

    Because you weren’t able to come with a catchy name that would have the .com domain available means that Google should change the ranking of a whole domain?

    • http://justnorris.com/ Norris

      Yes. Yes it does. And it should lower the .com ranking as well for that matter. Why ? How about consider the ratio of spam in .io and in .com
      .com doesn’t mean anything more than “I bought this nice domain either early in the game or for $’$$$ – $$$’$$$’$$”.

      p.s. At the moment I own exactly 0 .io domains. I just think this is a good idea.

      • http://about.me/tudorconstantin Tudor Constantin

        Guess what will happen now, that google made it a gccTLD – the domain bargain hunters will go there too – so, by bye nice and short domain names for the startups that will start in 2-3-4 years from now.

        • http://justnorris.com/ Norris

          I wish them good luck buying 99$ domains in bulk, and then selling them for 10x as much as the .com domains, because if someone who is going to buy a domain from a shark, is going to buy a .com.

          Here is an example:
          A domain shark buys 1000 .com domains for $10.99, which means he spends $10’990 on them a year.

          A domain zebra buys 1000 .io domains for $99, which means she spends $99’000 on them a year.

          I want to buy a domain for my company “Nice Zoo”.

          Shark is willing to sell me “nicezoo.com” to me for what it takes him to support all his domains for 3 years, so he’ll sell for $30’000

          Zebra is willing to do the same with “nicezoo.io”, but instead $30’000, it’s going to be $300’000 for her to make her business profitable.
          On top of that, she is in direct competition with other domain names, such as .sx, .com, .org., .net, and all the other “non-com” gccTLDs

          An expensive domain for domain sharks is just a bad and very risky deal, because you never know when may there popup another gccTLD that google supports, and from the looks of it right now, it seems that the wind is blowing in a direction where more and more TLDs are going to appear. Zebras are going to go out of business if they attempt to mimic sharks.

          This turned out to be quite a zoo example, but you get my point. New gccTLDs are supegreat for the internet health, because only serious projects are going to pay serious money for their domain.

  • http://www.facebook.com/merry.moose Merry Moose

    Probably should have mentioned in your post why someone would want a .io rather than .com.

    I was assuming because .io sounds more techy “input/output, file io, etc..”

    I don’t understand the anger in the comments either.. its not like .io is going to be another .tk either, not at $80.00 per domain registration.

    • http://about.me/tudorconstantin Tudor Constantin

      It sounds like he’s trying to change the rules to a game he doesn’t understand and he’s losing.

    • austinh

      Added in a short bit on that – thanks

  • http://jasonstockman.com/ Jason

    As a US based owner of a IO domain, I’d love to see it added as a gccTLD, but I don’t think it should. This issue is going to become commonplace as the “good” .COMs get taken and more sites emerge, but adding to the list of gccTLDs doesn’t seem like the best path to take.

  • Christian Grobmeier

    Big +1. I am also a huge fan of .io, as shown here: http://www.grobmeier.de/the-new-com-for-geeks-14022013.html

  • Vincent Gagné

    If you can use a .com and target a specific region I don’t see why you could’t target the world with voya.ge Google can figure out local relevancy just fine without TLDs

  • http://twitter.com/gbl08ma Gabriel

    I’m the owner not of a .io, but of a .im domain which points to a web service, in English, that is targeting users from anywhere in the world. In webmaster tools, I can’t change the geographic target of my domain to something other than Isle of Man. Because of this, my site less visible in Google search results that are presented outside of the Isle of Man. I think the solution to this problem would be to let people set the geographical target, for any website and any TLD, to any region users want to, ending with this thing of gTLDs, ccTLDs, rTLDs and gccTLDs or at least providing a way to override it.

    The way things are now, this messes up with most domain hacks. Having a nice domain where you manage to fit the TLD with the name, and thus not using any of the “mainstream” gTLDs, right now means being hindered in search results (even though sometimes you pay more for the TLD!). I wonder if things are any different for domains that are extremely popular worldwide such as bit.ly and imo.im. Probably the pagerank of these websites is so high that it doesn’t even make a difference, but I’m sure it is harming less-known websites such as mine.

  • 4ChanApologist

    So you purchased a domain with a tld that “sounded cool” without understanding how it works and now you want google to fix it for you? Too bad. Should have purchased a com/net/org/info.

    • http://twitter.com/JessiDarko Jessica Darko

      Oh, I see, this article is being visited by domain sellers. Carry on, you have a legitimate business, but realize that eventually .com’s power will wane as more and more people get better domains on other TLDs.

  • Michael Wally

    You are the problem, not Google.

    This is called “Domain Abuse,” and pisses me off more than it should. There are plenty of quality domain names open for registration, yet people still insist on using random places like the Indian Ocean, only to bitch when companies like Google actually follow the rules.

    • ikt123

      Can you point out where it’s written that getting a domain from another country is domain abuse?

      • Michael Wally

        When anything is used for other than it’s intended purpose, this is called “ab-use.” This is the definition of the word.

        In English, the prefix ab- is a loanword from Latin, which means “away from” or “outside of.”

        In this case, the .io TLD is intended to be used by “Entities connected with British Indian Ocean Territory.” By pure definition, any use outside of this is abuse.

        This is precisely what this word means, and I am amused that people are trying to claim otherwise.

        • ikt123

          It’s not abuse to use a domain name if the country in question is ok with it.

          IANA is responsible for determining an appropriate trustee for each ccTLD. Administration and control is then delegated to that trustee, which is responsible for the policies and operation of the domain.

          If Australia felt like giving everyone a .com.au not specific to Australia then they can do that, you can’t then turn around and go, THAT’S ABUSE!

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Country_code_top-level_domain#Unconventional_usage

          You might want to get onto wikpedia and call it ‘domain ABUSE’ because poor old domains which we can make a billion of are being used in the way they original weren’t intended to.

          We also might want to get onto all the .com’s that aren’t companys, all the .org’s that aren’t organisations, all the .net’s that aren’t networks, and all the cares that aren’t given for this dumb high horse which you’ve hopped onto.

        • http://www.facebook.com/merry.moose Merry Moose

          Abuse would be if .io registrations were restricted to internet addresses within that geographic area, and using proxy servers as a way of bypassing that barrier.

          The registrars (and even google) do not consider this abuse or they would have implemented those types of barriers, and google would not have started treating .io as a gccTLC. If you insist your definition of abuse stands, you are insisting that the providers of that TLD and the search engine who ranks it, are wrong, that you know better than they do.

          And that is being generous on my part to even entertain your argument. Borders are imaginary lines that have no place in 2013 society.

  • Anonymous

    The “source” link in the article shows “.io” has been added…

  • http://twitter.com/Derme302 Derme

    I’m very confused, .io is on Google’s list of gccTLDs?

    • jayther

      .io was just added recently, between 5-15 hours ago.

  • jayther

    I love how a lot of people were hating on this and saying “Google will never add .io”, and Google adds it to their gccTLD list in less than a day.

  • http://www.web420.com/blog Robert

    Clay.io appraises for $1000 on Estibot, and is now considered a gccTLDs. So it seems everything worked out for you going with an .io domain. :)