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CIRA employees were asked to support a local restaurant with a .CA domain. Here’s what we learned.

By Erin Hutchison
Content Marketing and Social Media Specialist

An initiative to encourage staff to support local restaurants sparked a few discussions on restaurant domain names and websites. Warning: Don’t read when hungry.

At CIRA, we’ve been working remotely since March, so we’ve had to find creative ways to keep employees engaged from afar and adapt our strong corporate culture to the remote workplace.

We recently initiated a “Dinner’s on CIRA” event for all staff members. Since we haven’t had a staff lunch or meal together in six months, the idea was to support a local business and enjoy a nice meal (because nothing can bring people together like delicious food!).

While all businesses have had to adapt to the pandemic one way or another, the restaurant category has been significantly impacted due to health guidelines in place to help flatten the curve. At the same time, it’s been inspiring to see how restaurants have adapted creative solutions and stayed engaged with their patrons.

Here’s how our Dinner’s on CIRA event worked:

  1. You had to find a restaurant that had a website with a .CA domain name. Being the .CA registry, we wanted to support the restaurants out there that chose to represent their website with a Canadian domain! Event organizers came up with an initial list and then asked employees to add their own ideas to it.
  2. Order takeout, delivery or dine-in during the first week of September. CIRA reimbursed staff up to $100.
  3. We encouraged staff to snap a picture of their food and share on a group chat before they dug in!

What we learned

If the number of photos that came flooding in were any indicator, people had a lot of fun ordering everything from pizza to sushi.

This initiative brought a lot of smiles to CIRA staff and their families!

It also sparked a few interesting discussions about restaurant websites and domain names – here are a few points that came up.

Not every restaurant out there has a website

It’s hard to believe that in 2020 some restaurants still don’t have a website. Nothing listed on their Google My Business listing, and very little digital presence in general! Even a simple website that shows the basics, like location and contact information can go a long way – it doesn’t have to be complicated. We love restaurants almost as much as we love .CA domains, but if you are hosting your business exclusively on Facebook or Instagram, you are probably losing customers!

Local restaurant websites come in all different shapes and sizes

And serve different purposes. Some are full-service, allowing you to order food online, without any social interaction. Others are more of a landing page that entices you with great pictures of food and encourages you to call in your order.

Restaurants use a variety of domain trends

Here are a few domain trends we observed:

  • Adding the or or (pictured below). This is particularly helpful if there’s a similar restaurant in a different city, or if it’s part of a chain with many locations. Adding location-based terms is something we see quite a bit in .CA domain names.

A domain’s purpose: Brand aide vs. navigation aide

One person asked, “I like this business, they have their .CA but it forwards to a .com, does it count?”.

Eesh, OK we’ll allow it. Some businesses redirect their .CA domain to a .com (and vice versa). This is not a bad strategy for those who want to cover their bases by claiming variations of their domain, and setting up a domain redirect is a fairly simple thing to do.

However, while .com has appeal for some businesses that sell internationally, a restaurant’s website visitors are overwhelmingly local, in Canada! Bonus, a .CA domain can help with SEO. So, seeing a .com on a local restaurant makes us a little sad.

We hope you learned something new about .CA domain names! If you are looking to support a local business, look for that .CA domain name! Is your favourite local restaurant using a .CA domains? Share it with us on social media!

Ok… here are a few more photos that we’ll leave you with!

About the author
Erin Hutchison

Erin brings to CIRA a background of marketing experience in higher education and the not-for-profit sector. In 2015, she participated in ISOC’s Youth@IGF Programme and traveled to Guadalajara, Mexico to attend the IGF. She has a Bachelor of International Business from Carleton University.