Should an IDN be part of your strategy?
If your company reaches, or plans to reach, non-Latin script language countries, then perhaps you should think of registering an International Domain Name. The first four completely non-Latin top-level domains went live in May in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Russia (More information).
It means that now, a website where the content is all in Russian, for example, will have a matching address, with the ccTLD .рф instead of .ru. Websites from United Arab Emirates will have the option in ending with .امارات; (Emarat), Egypt with .صر (Misr) and Saudi Arabia with .السعودية (Al-Saudiah). Other languages such as Chinese and Hindi are to come soon.
Registering an international domain for your company should be part of either a preventative or an active strategy. In the former case, you might want to avoid a competitor registering your domain in Egypt and demanding a fortune to give it back to you in the future. Also, as soon as IDs become popular, your customers will expect to find a local domain.
Let’s say you are responsible for the marketing strategies in a company like Zara, for example. Even though it is a Spanish fashion brand, Zara has stores all over the world, including countries in Middle East, Africa and Asia. Zara’s sound, in Russian, would correspond for a local person to this: Жара. And that’s how your potential customers in that country might search for your brand using their own scripts. The last thing you want is them to end up on your main competitor’s website. (To find out how your real company’s name would be transliterated in many languages, you can use this Google Tool).
The example above is part of an “it’s better be safe than sorry” strategy. You might as well register and hold international domains variations of you brand while it’s cheap, even if you won’t use them immediately.
If a more active approach is part of your strategy, then there are some natural search opportunities for you. The first one is that Google prefers to display local websites in search results. Will Russian websites with ccTDL .рф be considered more local then those with .ru? It’s too early to say, but that’s not a hypothesis to discard. What about inserting your main keyword on your international URL? Or even registering international domains containing your main keywords and get them to link or redirect to your site?
Other than natural search, an international domain could be a branding opportunity. A language is part of one’s identity and a brand that shows this kind of sympathy might connect better with their customers.
Should an IDN be part of your company’s strategy? It will depend on how important it is for you to go local in a non-Latin script country. It is, however, something to consider.