Over 40 countries have a country specific top level domain (TLD), such as .uk or .jp. International TLDs are used for many different reasons, such as government agencies in the country or companies that want a local presence for the country's customers. Some international domain names can be registered by anyone through standard domain registrars. Others have very specific laws and restrictions associated with the domain name.
A popular reason to register an international domain name is targeting the local market of that country. The companies might have specific services and products that are available only to that country and they want to make sure that the right people are seeing it. Another benefit is a search engine advantage. Google has location-specific settings for many countries, allowing users to search the specific TLD or for results relevant to their area. A company using the country TLD can get better search results than one using .com. Also, these international domain names can appeal to users and potential customers who do not speak English. Roughly 65 percent of computer users in 2004 primarily spoke languages other than English, according to market researcher Global Reach.
Domainers and webmasters might have problems finding available domains with the keywords they need among .com, .net or other common TLDs. Instead of choosing an awkward or hyphenated domain, a webmaster can register an international TLD that offers open registration.
A major drawback of international domain names is losing type-in traffic. Type-in domain traffic is when a person types in domain directly. It is much more likely for a person to type in a domain name followed by a .com, instead of a specific country code. This may also prove to be an issue in advertising. Even if a person sees the specific domain extension listed on an ad or commercial, by the time he gets to the computer to look at it he may type it in with a generic domain extension instead of the country specific code.