The .EU Domain – A Perfect Opportunity to Target English Speakers in EU?
To create a strong regional digital market the European Union (EU) created the country code top level domain named “.EU”. To kick-off your marketing campaign in the region an English language website is a good start as many EU countries score high in English proficiency. But does it also mean that a .EU domain is the best choice for your website?
Does a Single EU Digital Market Exist?
The European Union (EU) is a federation of 28 independent countries (member states) which agreed to follow the same laws regulating free movement of goods, services, and people to encourage mutual trade and economic growth in the region.
Those used to doing SEO in USA or Russia, both are federations, never experience market language barriers. And though customer behaviour can be diverse, people still belong to the same culture. Such similar conditions would be great for newcomers in the EU digital market.
Each EU country has its own native language, but English is the second most commonly spoken language throughout the Union. Having only an English website will suffice for a good start in the region. But what about your website’s geo-targeting settings? Can a country code top level .EU domain be enough to attract traffic from all member states?
A Particular Domain, Which Can Easily Turn on You
Many times our clients outside the EU region ask if it’s worth getting a .EU domain when targeting English speakers in the EU. No two answers are ever the same. To help you understand the complexity of the situation, Martin and Polona discussed the pros and cons of getting a .EU domain.
Here’s a transcript of the full conversation in case you want to save time on fast-forwarding later.
P: Hi guys, it’s Polona.
M: And Martin.
P: And today we’re going to explain to you whether it’s worth getting a .EU domain for your website, when you’re targeting English speakers in Europe. So Martin, what do you think?
M: Well I think you can buy an EU domain and you can use it if you want. But, I am afraid it will not give you an advantage when targeting European customers, really. Because, you must understand that compared to the US, Europe is a very saturated market. It consists of different parts, different languages, different behaviors, people really behave differently there compared to the US, which is like a more homogeneous market with a single language. So, if you want to target European customers, they are more used to using their own ccTLDs, or maybe a .com domain in some markets like the UK, but basically an EU domain isn’t such a win there.
P: OK. So, as I understand it, actually the biggest downfalls with the .EU domain lay in geo-targeting.
M: Sure, exactly. And imagine if you’re implementing, say, hreflang tags for your European website, you can’t really target Europe as a market, because there isn’t such targeting as the EU or Europe. You can target by language or you can target by different countries. The same applies for when you are setting your geographical target in webmaster tools or search console – Europe isn’t there. So, basically you can target different markets, you can buy different ccTLDs for your primary markets in Europe, or you can use your existing .com domain or whatever you have and set up sub-directories to target different markets.
P: But, I’ve still seen a couple of websites that use a .EU domain and I think their visibility is pretty good. So, to whom would you recommend getting a .EU domain website?
M: Hm, well, I think public projects can do pretty well with an .EU domain. Also, like projects funded by the European Union in general, because I can imagine that an EU domain can become a part of the brand. And also, there are some markets, like Germany that the EU domain has grown some popularity in, along with the .de domain, the Germans prefer an EU domain as well. You can certainly use it, when the brand name in Germany is already taken, for instance.
P: Great, thanks for the insight. And guys remember, a .EU domain isn’t a .com or a .org domain. If you’re thinking of getting one don’t forget what we’ve just said. Thanks for your attention.
M: See you.
Featured image source: GFluence