What’s The Difference Between .com And .co.za: A South African’s Guide

Difference between .com and .co.za Domain domain registration
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Choosing a perfect domain name extension for your brand or organisation is important. Registering a domain is the first step to getting online. Even more important is having a Domain Registrar who can help you with every step of the process.

Unfortunately, we’ve seen time and time again .com and .co.za domains used the wrong way resulting in lost business for the owner. Therefore, in this article, we discuss the difference between .co.za and .com domain and guide you into choosing the perfect domain extension for your business.

Actual Difference between .co.za and .com Domains

The co.za domain is the country code top level domain (ccTLD) for South African based businesses. .co.za domains are administered by ZACR, however ICANN approved third party registrars offer .za registration service. A .com domain is basically a commercial domain that is not geographically based, meaning a .com domain works best for both international and local commercial businesses.

Top Hosting Providers with a Free .co.za and .com

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Which domain ending is best between .com and .co.za?

If you are running a business selling physical goods or services that are only relevant in South Africa and can only be bought by South Africans, then use .co.za. If you have a business that intends to grow into other countries or sell goods and services that are not only limited to a South African client base, then you should use a .com domain.

But if there’s a choice, you want the .com. A .com is the ultimate online destination and easier for customers to remember. Above all, a .com domain valuable and trusted as a top level domain.

In addition, the best way to understand the power of a .com domain is by just going on the internet and start looking at what most big companies are using between a .com and a .co.za. You’ll notice that most of them use a .com domain for their main website, even though they are based in South Africa. To eliminate confusion to clients, they simply do this:

  1. Own both a .com and a .co.za website domains and automatically redirect anyone who directly searches for theircompanyname.co.za to a theirdompanyname.com website. If you plan to use website redirects, Here’s how you can do it on your host (cPanel Guide)
  2. Base their main website on a .com/za subdirectory. This means their main domain is a .com and a /za subdirectory part is there to to signify a South African relevance. see examples below. 

Now that you understand how you can be a South African company and use both a .com and a .co.za domain, why not register a domain for cheaper right away:

Why is .com so popular?

A .com wins the popularity contest simply because of relevance. In fact, the majority of internet users worldwide are able to recall if a company’s domain name ends with a .com or a .org.

The best domain extension for blogs?

Given that a blog is an information-based type of website that you can monetise for profit, It is best to use a .com for it. This will give you a trusted worldwide reach than a geographic-based domain.

For argument’s sake, if you have a blog about traveling or motherhood, you do not want anyone reading your blog to believe that the information you are giving out through your blog does not apply to them because they are based in the US or Europe or Africa etc.

Do .com domains rank higher than .co.za?

No, the factors that determine which website ranks higher in search engines depend on how well your website is Optimised for Search Engines (SEO) and how well you market your website.

This is not an SEO article, so Checkout this Article for Free SEO tips if you are interested in building a website that ranks higher in search engines.

The only thing to understand for now us that a .com only gives you an advantage for international reach. Google will generally rank your content internationally if you are using an international domain and locally if you are using a geographic domain name extension.

Keep in mind, Google is simply just a search engine providing relevant information to the right demographic of people. Which is why if you are a South African searching for businesses near you, you are most likely to get recommendations of businesses with .co.za domains, South African English and with a South African Rand currency.

Therefore in conclusion, both a .com and a .co.za can rank higher the SEO on either website is done right. A .com will potentially rank higher compared to a .co.za because it has a guaranteed advantage of international reach – i.e A .com will be shown in many parts of the world compared to a .co.za. A .co.za will still rank higher but Google will generally rank it amongst South African search audience.

Can a non profit organisation use a .com or .co.za domain?

There is nothing wrong with using a .com or .co.za domain for a Non Profit Organisation, it is just a matter of thinking well about what your NGO website aims to achieve online. However, there’s nothing wrong with using a .com or .co.za domain for an NGO website, it is just a matter of thinking well about what your NGO website aims to achieve online.

A .com is typically used for selling goods/services and information blogs. A .co.za is used for similar purposes to a .com but in a South African-based setting. Here are some of the recommended domain extensions for your NGO:

Conclusions – Which domain to choose between .com and .co.za?

Only use a .co.za domain if you are a South African business or blog with targets to only attract South African based customers or audience and use a .com if you need your business or blog to be noticed by both South African and international audiences.

A .com domain name is best for any modern business that aims to be scalable in the long run. But on the other hand, .co.za is highly significant for marking your South African relevance. A .co.za automatically eliminates the doubt that your business is proudly South African.

If you are not too sure what to use, register both a .com and .co.za domains and add a redirect from one of the domains to the other. For example, If you end up using a yourbusiness.com for your main website, then add an automatic redirect to yourbusiness.co.za so that anyone who visits yourbusiness.co.za will end up on your main website: yourbusiness.com

Registering a domain is the first step to getting online. Here’s some places where you can register domains cheaper.

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