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Domain Names Canada: .com or .ca?

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Whether you’re a business owner who’s looking to expand your success or you’re a blogger who wants to share your ideas with a wide audience, you’re going to want to establish an online presence.

While there are a lot of techniques that you can use to achieve your goal, there’s something that you need to do before you can apply any of them – registering a domain name.

What is a domain name?

How do I go about registering one?

Are there any factors I should take into consideration before I register a domain registrar?

Can I use a custom email address if I register a domain?

These are probably some of the questions you’re asking yourself.

It might seem like a daunting task, but believe it or not, it’s a lot easier than it seems.

Keep on reading to find the answers to these questions and other important info about registering a domain name in Canada.

In simple terms, what is a Domain Name?

Believe it or not, even if you’ve never heard the term “domain name”, you’re already familiar with what it is.

Every time you type a website address into the address bar of a web browser, you’re entering a domain name.

Put simply, a domain name is the name of your website. It’s the address that will be used to access your website.

For example, if you wanted to go to Google, you’d enter into your web browser and when you click enter or left-click your mouse, you’d be directed to the website in the web browser.

A domain name can be comprised of any combination of letters and numerals.

Those letters and numerals are preceded by https://www and are followed by one of the various extensions; for example, .com, .net, .edu, and for many Canadian-based websites, .ca.

No two names can be the same, like a fingerprint, they’re all unique.

So, if you wanted to have two websites, you’d have to create two different domain names; you can’t share them between sites.

Each name has to be registered before it can be used.

If that sounds a little confusing, consider this example: your domain name is like a phone number and your website is your phone.

In other words, while they’re connected, they are two separate and distinct things.

Just like you can change your phone and retain the same phone number, you can also change your website and retain your domain name, you’d just have to link your new website to your domain (just like you’d have to connect your new phone to your phone number.)

Also, just as you can change your phone number to a different service provider and still have it connected to your existing phone, you can also move your domain to a different registrar and still have it connected to your existing website.

To further clarify, let’s say this website was connected to for example, the content on this site wouldn’t change, however this site would have a new domain name and you’d have to use that new name to access it.

Or, the domain name linked to this website could be disconnected and linked to a different website.

Whenever you typed in the domain name, instead of being directed to this website, you would be taken to the site that it would be registered to.

In other words, domains aren’t permanently attached to a particular site.


Factors to Consider When Choosing a Domain Name Registrar

As mentioned, a domain name needs to be registered before it can be used. In order to register one, you’ll need to select a registrar.

Domain name registrars are the businesses that take care of reserving the actual name for you such as NameCheap, GoDaddy and many others.

They also handle IP address assignments for the domain names they reserve.

‘IP’ stands for ‘Internet Protocol’, which is the set of rules that enable devices to communicate with one another via the Internet.

While some folks may be just registering one and doing nothing with it, others are ready to build their site out, which means you also need hosting.

Our guide to web hosting in Canada is a good resource to pair up with this one to get the complete picture on domains and hosting your website on your domain.

There are dozens of registrars.

To ensure you choose the right one for your specific needs, consider the following factors before selecting one:

  • Obviously, you want to go with a reputable company.
  • You want to choose a secure registrar to ensure your domain name and website are well-protected.
  • Fees vary widely, so make sure you choose a registrar that works with your budget.
  • Management tools. Look for a nice selection of easy to use options.
  • Customer service. If you ever need assistance, you’ll be thankful for a registrar that offers helpful, friendly customer service.
  • Advanced services. Things like private registration, geographic domain mapping tools, international extensions, etc. will make things a lot easier for you.


Should I Register as a .com or a .ca?

Above, we briefly touched on domain extensions; the last part of a domain name.

There are several different routes you can take, but for Canadian-based websites, two of the most popular options are .com and .ca.

Which one should you choose and will it have any impact on your website? Well that depends.

The .com domain extension is considered a generic extension; in other words, it’s one of the most commonly used extensions around the world.

The .ca domain extension is a country-code extension.

Every country has its own domain extension, which helps both search engines and search engine users identify the country a website is associated with.

Search engines use country-code extensions to determine if specific sites are tailored for users in specific countries.

Users have noticed sites get a bit of a boost in the local search results when they contain these extensions, as they’re deemed more relevant for users in the country.

Hence, having a .ca domain extension could benefit your ranking in local search engine results.

However, since the .com extension is a generic extension, search engines don’t associate sites that feature the extension with a specific country, and therefore, your site will rank better in international markets (that is, if you take measures to properly optimize the rest of the site.)

Advanced Concept: Google Webmasters allows you to set the preferred geographic location of your site, so you can kind of tell Google you are focused on Canada even if you have a .com.


So, which one should I choose?

Consider the audience you’re trying to reach.

If you’re only intending on marketing to a Canadian-based audience, a .ca domain extension might be a better choice, as it could help to boost your ranking in the search results of Canadians.

However, if you’re aiming for an international presence, a .com extension would be a better option.

If you’re going to start with the Canadian market and possibly expand or really don’t know at this time, it’s probably best to go with the .com.


What about email?

Regardless of whether your domain ends in .com or .ca, you’ll be able to set up a custom email address, multiple of them if you please.

So for example, with the ability to customize the first portion of the email address to whatever you desire, so the ‘john’ portion of it.


Should I get hosting from the same company that I use to register my domain?

If you’re interested in keeping things as simple as possible, we suggest using the same provider to both buy your domain and hosting.

With both in one place, they are easier to manage, easier to connect together and the billing is in one place.

For advanced users, they’ll probably have a different set up and want to use different companies, however as a beginner using the same company for both is completely fine.

If your domain is registered at company A, you’ll need to point it to the nameservers of your hosting at company B.

Some registrars will also offer a free domain if you sign up for hosting so if you are ready to begin building your website and moving forward on your online marketing tactics you may want to consider registering everything together.

Check out our list of Canadian web hosting companies where you can purchase your domain and hosting at the same time if you prefer.


Summing It Up

Registering a domain name in Canada is actually a lot easier than it seems.

Once you’ve selected a relevant, catchy, and easy-to-remember name, picked a registrar, and have decided whether a .com or .ca domain extension is the better option, you’re ready to register your domain name!

With a great domain name and proper optimization, you can build a successful online presence!