79% of Respondents Choose Quality .CO Domain Over .COM Alternative

By on January 20, 2011

An independent study shows inspiring results for .CO domain owners. Bryan Marble is an entrepreneur working on a group travel startup. He decided to put his domain name ideas to the test using sponsored text-ad split-testing and by asking people their domain preference.

The online usability study pitted GrpTrp.com against GroupTrip.co and the results speak for themselves. Two tests show the .CO domain to be the better option and it was ultimately chosen as the new business name. Bryan’s pre-conceived notion that people would somehow not trust .CO domain names was proven false.

I would have liked to see more domains be part of this study. A three-word domain or another .COM alternative could still have potentially outperformed the .CO domain in text-link advertisements. However, Bryan is looking for a brand name for his startup and is wise to keep it short and as memorable and relevant as possible.

Test 1: Sponsored Text Ads – Will users trust a .CO domain enough to click on it? The same ad copy was shown using both domains and the .CO version performed slightly better in two different trials. You can review the full results here.

Test 2: Memorability Poll – Using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk and PickFu, Bryan was able to quickly poll 200 users on their domain preference. Users were to select between the two options shown below.

79% of 200 responses said they would be more likely to use and remember the .CO domain. That is 155 out of 200. You can see a list of complete responses here with commentary from users.

It’s interesting to note that the survey displays the domain spoken verbally as “dot C O” instead of “dot Co.” I can’t say that I’ve actually decided for myself which option is preferable, though I’m leaning towards “dot Co.” Both methods of saying the domain are viable and speaking the two letters seems to have worked at least for this test. It would be another interesting thing to split-test.

I’d like to thank Bryan for this interesting study. It’s good news to hear that users are recognizing and accepting of .CO domains as I suspected. In our latest poll question, results for .CO’s outlook in 2011 have been a very close race since the beginning. Lots of people are on board, and equally as many have not been convinced, yet.

What are your thoughts on clear .CO vs not-so-good .COM domains? What choice would you make for your business? Please leave a comment with your opinion.

[Top Image: Michael Johnson, Apples & Oranges – They Don’t Compare, May 14, 2008 via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution]

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About Mark Fulton

Mark is the Founder of DotSauce Magazine and a full time web developer, domain investor, SEO and online marketing professional residing in North Carolina, USA. Visit MarkFulton.com for information on freelance website development, SEO and consultation services.