Choosing between a .com and a .us Tld domain
Memorability and usage of .com vs .us
The first thing one must consider when choosing between these two domains is the user. The most important aspect when building a website, creating content and of course buying a domain is your user’s preference. Various alternate top level domains are being popularized including .restaurant and numerous other combinations but here is the plain and simple truth you need to consider.
The world’s top 10 most visited websites are google.com, facebook.com, youtube.com, baidu.com, yahoo.com, amazon.com, wikipedia.org, qq.com, twitter.com and google.co.in – The three most popular sites in the world are .com your visitors think .com in some countries visitors think of their countries top level domain and even expect it. A strong example of this is the .de for Germany, .fr for France and the .co.uk for the United Kingdom.
I am going to assume that if you are trying to decide between a .us and a .com you are based in America or serving the American Market, I am making this assumption based on the fact that you need a US address to qualify for a .us domain in the first place. Unfortunately in the US; the .com domain is the market leader in terms of being recognizable.
So here is where memorability comes in; when you tell an individual your domain name they need to remember two parts: the name itself eg. mycompany and also remember which Tld you used (.com/.org/.net/.us) so when you say mycompany.com the user can generally just remember the mycompany part and take the .com for granted; when you place a .us at the end the user must remember both parts. In short if you buy a .us you need to also own the .com because a considerable portion of users will inevitably type mycompany.com and either get nowhere or go to a different site.
SEO, Search Engines and .com and .us
Search engine optimisation or more accurately: sucking up to google.
A .com is a worldwide domain; you can modify it to target a specific geographic area to increase your chances of ranking in that location. .us is Geographically specific regardless. To set .com to target a specific country on google you would set it up in Webmaster Tools -( here is a great article with info about webmaster tools. )
From a search engine optimization stand point; all things being equal a website on .us and a website on .com with America set as the Geographic Target would rank equally.
Conclusion .com vs .us
.com is more versatile and easier for your user to remember. Specifically if the .com is already taken by another brand using the .us is probably going to do more harm than good. If you own both domains .com & .us both choices are equal as you can make the .com point at the .us and vice versa or put different content on each one. For example .com could have content for an international audience and .us for your american audience.
What if the .com domain is taken? Should I go for a .us
This will depend very much on how strongly your user wants to find you! I would prefer to change my domain and use a .com mainly because it confuses users especially when there are two sites with the same exact domain name and the only differentiation is .com vs .us –
Even if it is your own name, it might make more sense to use a middle initial eg. JohnJSmith.com or a MrJohnSmith.com or if your name really is as John Smith and there are over 45,000 people that share your name you may want to go with your name and what you do, JohnSmithLaw.com JohnSmithDrummer.com JohnSmithSurfing.com anyway I think you get the idea. People will be more likely to remember that you are John Smith the surfer as opposed to the fact that you are John Smith on the .us instead of on the .com