We are often asked my UK clients, particularly those starting up in business, is it better to use a .co.uk domain name or a .com?
The answer always used to be that .com has a more international feel to (global companies often use .com as a starting point) whereas .co.uk has the feel of a business native to the UK. So the domain name had subtleties in terms of inference. However SEO has developed into a more technical discipline and there are known advantages (albeit slight advantages) in choosing one or the other, depending upon your business’ market and location.
Google local searches
So turning our thoughts to Google, Google now seems to prefer local domains for local searches. In other words, a search on google.co.uk will prefer a .co.uk domain in its search results. Similarly, a search using google.de is more likely to skew results in favour of .de domains. I’m expecting that .uk domains will behave in the same way as .co.uk domains
This is likely to be of benefit to you if your business is locality based. For example, we recently delivered a website for a counsellor whose services were focused on a particular group of towns in the UK. It’s an advantage (a slight one but nevertheless an advantage) to use a .co.uk domain name in this case.
Other things to consider:
You also need to consider where any inbound links to your site are coming from. If you receive alot of links from local domains then you are likely to increase your results in local search engine results. If you are looking at global markets then you would do much better to have incoming links from .com domains outside your local markets.
You should also pay attention to where your website is physically hosted. If you’re a UK company then don’t host it in France.
This is one small piece of the puzzle, there are believed to be around 200 factors that influence Google’s search results. Rather like the success of the British cycling team, small marginal gains in alot of areas are the key to achieving aggregate success.