I was recently browsing the GoDaddy website and saw that they have added another country-specific domain name to their top level domain list. The .WS domain extension is obviously nothing new since it was developed in the year 2000, but domain registrars have found a way to advertise and brand this extension to customers – .ws = WebSite.
I am normally against companies marketing country-specific domain names like .tv (for the islands of Tuvalu) and .co (for the Republic of Colombia), so my first impression of the .ws domain extension was not a good one. Google normally gives favoritism to country domains in the country that they have been assigned to. For example, if you are searching on Google.co.uk for the term “web hosting”, you will be given UK-based web hosting companies with the domain extension co.uk, but if you search for the same term on Google.com, you will be given US-based companies with the domain extension .com. That’s not to say that I never see co.uk websites in my Google.com searches, but Google favors the country that you are searching from. So if that system holds true everywhere, country-based domains like .tv, .co, and .ws will have an obvious disadvantage.
What Country Is .ws?
The .ws domain extension was founded by Michael Starr and Alan Ezeir in 2000. The extension was intended for use in Western Samoa, but the co-founders knew that it could have a dual meaning of “website”.
Reasons To Register a .ws Domain
There are a few reasons to register a .ws domain, but I would have to say the most significant one is the availability of high-quality domain names. If you visit the Premium Domains page on the Website.ws page, you will find that domains like dog.ws, clemson.ws, and betterdomains.ws are all available. I’m not sure of the value of a domain like dog.ws, but I’m sure if you get quality backlinks and write great content, you will make money for sure.
Another good reason to register a .ws domain name is to protect your brand. I have seen domains like kia.ws that are available to be purchased by anyone. Technically I could buy kia.ws, put up a website that looks similar to kia.com and see how much money I can make from advertising.
Finally, .ws domains are fairly inexpensive. You can register a new name on GoDaddy for about $15 which is considerably cheap compared to other country domain names like .tv that cost $40 per year.
Reasons To Stay Away From .ws
Obviously, the first reason you should stay away from registering a .ws domain (especially if you want to create a serious business or blog) is Google’s purposeful bias. In the United States, .com, .org, .net, .info (somewhat), and other popular domain extensions normally appear in Google results. If Google truly does try to display .co websites in the Republic of Columbia and .co.uk sites in the United Kingdom, then it wouldn’t make sense for them to show up for a United States user unless it contained super relevant content.
Another reason to stay away from .ws domains is that people will often associate them with spam sites. It seems like the average user automatically thinks that any website without a .com, .org, .net, .gov, .edu, or .co.uk is spam. If you wouldn’t want to brand a karate dojo with GordonKarate.info, you wouldn’t want to use GordonKarate.ws either. It looks odd (especially for users who don’t know any extension beyond .com), it sounds odd to say (dot-w-s), and if you put your advertisement on a billboard, people would have a hard time associating the GordonKarate.ws address with a website.