Insight & Analysis

Should You Buy a .cn Domain for Your Website?


Chinese internet domains

If your business is expanding into the Chinese market, you might be considering the value of purchasing a .cn domain name to help develop your presence in China, along with your visibility in search results.

But is having a .cn domain name necessary?

The local value of having a .cn domain name

Having a .cn domain name can give you credibility in the local market, and can help you avoid being blocked by the censorship board.

That said, many email providers treat .cn domain extensions gingerly due to their associations with spam, which can pose problems for mailing lists.

Does having a .cn domain extension give you a boost in search results?

Ranking well on Baidu is as important in a Chinese context as ranking highly on Google is in the English-speaking world.

However, so long as a site is targeted, relevant, quick to load and doesn’t fall foul of the censors, websites with extensions such as .com, .info or .net should rank just as well on Baidu as those with a .cn extension.

Take for example, the website for the hugely popular Tencent QQ – which has well over 820 million accounts despite not having a .cn suffix.

Chances are your .cn domain has already been purchased

If your brand is well known or uses common words, chances are that the .cn domain has already been purchased by domain squatters looking to auction it off at an inflated cost.

Typically, the more prestigious your brand, the higher the cost.

That said, if your .cn domain is available and you want to register it, you may also want to register a number of similar and related domains to avoid issues with squatters in the future.

Hosting challenges for .cn websites

If you do opt to register your .cn extension and you’re running a media-heavy site, you’ll likely look into local hosting in order to boost download times.

However, locally hosted websites in China must have an Internet Content Provider Licence to avoid being blocked by censors.

To avoid having to apply for an ICP, many companies instead host their websites in nearby Taiwan, Hong Kong, or Macau.

Alternatives for your .cn extension

If your .cn extension has already been purchased or the regulatory requirements surrounding local hosting are a deterrent, there are still workarounds for those seeking a .cn suffix.

One option is to take the subfolder approach used by many companies with transnational audiences.

This involves appending “/cn” to the Chinese-targeted parts of your website. An example would look like this:

You could also opt for the subdomain approach, with the Chinese-targeted parts of your website taking the form

If you’re looking for more information on registering a .cn website, or on registering a website using the newly released Chinese character suffix, contact our experienced team of China marketing consultants.

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