Those who decide to put their Canadian businesses online are faced with a dilemma when it comes to picking a web address. This dilemma isn’t just what your name should be, but which extension you should use. Do you go with the tried-and-tested .com or Canada’s own .ca extension?
A domain extension is what appears on the other side of the dot in your web address.
Today we’re going to look at the reasons Canadians need to consider a country-specific .ca extension for your web address.
Editor's note: Domain Sale! Now until the end of the year, you can score a .ca domain name from GoDaddy for only $00.01 for the first year on any 3-year registration.
4 excellent reasons to go with .ca
What’s in a name? A lot as it turns out. Here are four reasons to use the .ca extension for your website address.
- It makes Canadians love you.
- Search engines favor it for in-country searches.
- You can get a French website address.
- Your privacy is protected.
Before we dive into the reasons you should have a .ca domain name, let’s explain what a domain name is.
Domain name primer
If you’re not familiar with what exactly a web address or domain name is, then here is a quick primer for you.
CanadaPost.ca is a web address. So is RBCRoyalbank.com. What you may not know is there are long strings of numbers behind each of these web addresses. But since words are easier for most people to remember, we all use letters or words for our website addresses instead.
Without a proper web address, your website will not be reachable online.
The purpose of a domain is to allow a Domain Name Server to connect the web address you type in (e.g. TimHortons.com) to the actual server that is running the website you are trying to reach.
A web address is actually made of two parts:
- The SLD or second-level domain, which is everything before the dot
- The TLD or top-level domain, which comes after the dot (aka the domain extension)
While it can be tempting to choose a funny extension like .wtf or .vodka for your web address, it’s important to remember that your customers will need to understand your web address from a glance at a business card or as your vehicle speeds by. Choosing a .ca extension can do this, and also confers many other benefits.
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Why choose .ca for your web address?
There are a number of really good reasons to go with a .ca extension for your web address.
1. It makes Canadians love you
One of the biggest reasons that you should choose a .ca extension for your domain name is that it tells people without a doubt that they’re visiting a site of a business in Canada. The .ca extension requires that you have a presence in Canada.
A .ca web address taps into patriotic desire people have to support local businesses.
According to the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA), Canadians are 4x more likely to shop on a .ca domain name over a .com because they know they’re getting charged in Canadian dollars. They don’t have to do any type of currency conversion, or worry about getting a surprise duty fee when their purchase comes over the border.
2. Search engines favor it for in-country searches
When it comes to finding your site, you have an advantage with searches that originate in Canada because your domain extension is already associated with Canada. Search engines aim for localized search results, and use the domain extension as one of the signals to show people the results they expect.
3. You can get a French website address
The .ca extension also allows for French accented characters in their SLDs. If you cater to a French-speaking audience, this can be another great way to indicate that you’re a local business that customers can support.
Particularly if you’re in Quebec, go with the .ca extension and purchase the accented variations of your domain.
If you didn’t do this when you first registered don’t worry, all accented variations on your .ca domain name are automatically reserved for you so that others can’t purchase them and impersonate your business online.
4. Your privacy is protected
Finally, unlike some other extensions, .ca domains are given WhoIs privacy by default. The WhoIs is a public database that contains every single domain registered, including the name and contact info of the owner.
Thanks to the automatic privacy that comes with a .ca domain, random people can’t look up your address by querying the database. They have to go to the CIRA, the governing body for the .ca extension, and use CIRA’s form to get in touch with you. This can cut down on the spam you’re going to get in your inbox.
Domain registration tips
If this is the first time you’re registering a web address, here are a few tips to help you make a great decision.
Register your website address yourself
While it may feel easier to have a marketing company or your web designer register your domain, don’t do it. Buy and register your domain yourself.
When someone else registers a domain for you, they technically own it.
If the relationship sours, you may have a fight on your hands to get control of it again. You don’t want to be forced to redo your marketing materials or worse, rename your company, because you lost control of your domain name.
Purchase other extensions of your domain name
Even if you’re planning on using the .ca extension for your site, look to see if the matching .com is available. So if your domain name is abc.ca, try to register abc.com as well.
This way, you can keep competitors from owning the .com version of your domain and using it to draw traffic meant for you away to their site. (Cheap domain extensions can be found all the time at GoDaddy.)
Watch your expiration date
When you purchase your domain, set a reminder for about a month before it will expire. Use this reminder to sign into your account and make sure that everything is set properly and your domain will renew as planned.
I’ve had clients come to me in a panic because they didn’t realize their credit card had expired and they missed the emails about their domain expiring. I’ve even had calls from people who had their domain purchased after it expired and were then asked to pay thousands of dollars to get it back.
Avoid this by regularly making sure that all the information on your domain is set correctly.
CIRA will help with this as it sends regular emails to confirm your information.
Don’t simply put them in the trash — use that email as a reminder to ensure that your domain will be renewed as you expect.
Get a web address you’ll love for years to come
It can feel like a hurdle to purchase a web address for your business, but it doesn’t have to be.
Remember, if you’re a local business aiming to deal with Canadians, look at the .ca extension.
Purchase other extensions like .com so that competitors can’t send traffic meant for you to their sites. Make sure you purchase your domain in your own name, and that you check in at least once a year to ensure that everything is set properly so your domain will renew.
With these simple reminders, you can easily navigate purchasing the first domain for your business and serve your customers well.