Should an Indian business go for .in or .com as the domain name?

Choosing a domain name for the website is an important step for businesses, but what type of domain should one choose and why?
Arun Nair - Author

Before I come to my recommendation, let us look at the options objectively.

For a business owner looking for a domain, there are 3 viable options ...

  1. Sub-Domain (e.g. in.stratadigital.com)

  2. Sub-Folder (e.g. stratadigital.com/in)

  3. ccTLD (e.g. stratadigital.in)

Let's explore each one of them in some detail.

1. Sub-Domains (e.g. in.stratadigital.com)

Sub-domains do not inherit all of the domain authority and trust that you might get from having a separate domain. There is also the risk of people adding "www" before the domain name and missing the link out of habit. This is the least favoured of the 3 options.

2. Sub-Folder (e.g. stratadigital.com/in)

The sub-folder domain is the best method for targeting specific languages. You can easily separate sites that use different versions of the same language.

You can also separate sites that use different languages within the same country. For example, the English language and Hindi language websites would be stratadigital.com/in-en and stratadigital.com/in-hi respectively. If the top-level domain has good link authority, the benefits are passed on to the sub-folder.

There is also the advantage of low costs, since you don't need to manage or maintain multiple domains. This is a recommended option if you see your business growing beyond the country of origin, or if you wish to maintain multilingual versions of the website.

3. ccTLD (e.g. stratadigital.in)

ccTLD (country code top level domain) is reserved for a country. For e.g. the ccTLD .in is reserved for India and is under the authority of NIXI (national internet exchange of India, a GoI body). One great advantage of ccTLD is that it ranks high on authority for country specific search engine. For e.g. stratadigital.in will have better search authority and ranking than a sub-domains or sub-directories when you search within Google India.

Another advantage of using ccTLDs is the perception of the customer. In many countries, brands that use ccTLDs are more trusted than brands that use a different structure. For e.g. a .in has better perception locally than a .com. Usually companies that have a ccTLD also have physical presence in that country.

Recommendation

In our specific case, for any Indian business (or for that matter, any venture that plans on tapping the Indian market) it's best to opt for .in instead of .com. However, if you plan on building domain authority on a .COM domain and then passing on the benefits to country or language specific versions of the website, you may consider Sub-Folder method.