(of course substitute .com.au in
Ahhh a question we get often, and one without a standard answer. Rather, the answer is based on your particular situation. So, take a minute to consider the questions below, and voila, you'll have an answer.
1) Is your site on a well established domain?
If your site is on a well established domain that is currently attracting much business and quality traffic from search engines, perhaps there's no need for a ".ca". The reason; some search engine algorithms rely to a degree on trustworthiness, inferred by the age of the domain or the particular page. Moving domains could cause some disruption in traffic patterns in the short term. Besides, if your site is already hosted on a Canadian IP (see our earlier blog posting about the criteria for appearing in Canadian search engines at http://www.searchenginepeople.com/blog/benefits-of-being-recognized-as-a-canadian-site-by-search-engines.html), it will appear in the Canadian search results of all engines anyway. Perhaps the best way to find out is to merely perform a search on Google.ca (Pages from Canada). If you're already in the search results and don't use a .ca TLD, then you've got a Canadian hosting company. If you're not in these search results, then don't purchase a new domain, but rather move hosting companies. Find a good Canadian hosting company, and move your site there, using the existing domain. If you're looking for a Canadian hosting company, check here (http://www.searchenginepeople.com/blog/list-of-25-canadian-hosting-companies-with-canadian-ips.html).
2) Is your target market primarily Canadians living in Canada?
If your answer is NO, then definitely you should consider employing a TLD for the country where the majority of your clients/prospects are, just to make certain that you appear in that country's search results. Americans, Mexicans, Brits, etc alike are very unlikely to click through to a ".ca" since it's a world away from them (although many Americans do believe that .ca signifies California rather than Canada).
If your answer is 50/50, the answer would still be "don't use a .ca TLD and instead find a good Canadian hosting company" (http://www.searchenginepeople.com/blog/list-of-25-canadian-hosting-companies-with-canadian-ips.html). If the split is between 2 countries, employ the TLD of one, and host with a hosting provider in the other.
If your answer is 100%, "yes we target only Canadians", then perhaps. To this day, I've seen no definitive proof that suggests Canadians click on ".ca" TLD's more than any others. It makes intuitive sense, but I've not seen the proof. So, the jury is still out perhaps this will be the subject of a future research project also.
All that said, the decision is that simple. If you're targeting Americans or others abroad, a .ca domain is not the way to go. In fact, in the majority of cases, it is our opinion that .ca domains are not ideal. What is truly important is where you choose to host your site, and the country IPs they offer. So, when is it recommended to employ a .ca TLD? The only time to purchase and deploy a .ca TLD would be if:
a) it's a brand new site and domain
b) you're targeting only Canadians in Canada, and have no visions of expanding below the 49th parallel or overseas .. ever.