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Registering Domain Names in Italy. Dot com or dot it?

Recently Carlos, after reading this post possibly, contacted me to ask whether Italian sites use the .com and .it domain names. This was an interesting question and oddly enough I had been looking at the Alexa statistics for Italy’s top 100 Internet sites recently and I noticed that both .com and .it domains are used by Italian organisations for sites aimed at Italians.

The question is why there is this mix of .it and .com domains in Italy. Well, here are my theories.

Firstly, the registration process for a .it domain is fiddly and nowhere near as straightforward as that of registering a .com domain. With a .com domain you can be up and running in less than a day. However, if you go for a .it domain, if you are lucky you can have the domain visible in around 24 hours, if not, it may take much longer, especially if the requisite forms are not completed correctly. .it domains are also more expensive.

OK, so above is a practical reason why Italians may prefer the .com domain, but there is more.

In Italy, after having worked with (taught) many young Italians over the last 5 years or so, I’ve noticed that the .com domain is perhaps held in higher regard than the .it domain, and, although I have no proof of this, it would appear to mean that in the eyes of your average Internet aware Italian, the .com domain is possibly holds more credibility. There is one good example of a major Italian company using a .com domain – Il Sole 24 Ore – the Italian publishing and training group, whose site is a .com – www.il24ore.com Interesting is it not?

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I also dropped in to my response to Carlos’ question that it would be possible to register both .com and .it names for the same dominion, as indeed have I for one of my other sites. And because I have become a little more SEO aware recently, I happened to mention that I thought that having the same site with both domains may cause SEO related problems. Although, with apologies to Carlos, I had no real evidence for this supposition. Naughty me.

Well, Carlos picked up on my SEO related assertion and wanted to know more. Whoops! After a quick search on Google I found some evidence to support my supposition: here And from that article it does appear as though country specific domains can cause problems for webmasters who are targeting different geographical areas, so although I shot from the hip, much like the cowboys of old, I did not miss. Let’s say that my assumption was more an ‘educated guess’.

There are also some other issues concerning the registration of .it domains.

With regard to those who wish to register and maintain an Italian domain, it could be said that the .it domain is restricted to Italian citizens and those who live in countries within the European Union. This means, for example, that Americans wishing to register a .it domain would have problems, unless, of course, they have a company registered in Italy or they happen to have an Italian ‘partita IVA’ – VAT registration. To read more about this and to find out more about registering a .it domain, I recommend visiting the English version of the Italian domain name registration authority nic.it

Carlos’ contact raised some very interesting issues, and this is why, with his permission, I’ve written this post. Although I know something about this, I am in no way an expert. So if anyone would like to add anything or contradict me, then please feel free, and I’ll modify this post and credit my sources appropriately.

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