How important is the country TLD to you?

I run a website, but I’m thinking to expand my offering to other countries too (about 20). As a bootstrapper, this might be quite an expense, considering that some of the domains I’m looking for are owned by domain parking companies (therefore, they will cost $$$).

I’m just wondering whether I should throw some money at domains, or if perhaps going the subdomain route: e.g.,

Is the country TLD still so important in 2014?

From my experience, I think that it doesn’t matter too much for your customers if you have or or even I currently use a mixture of and, for different countries, and I notice no measurable difference.

However I’ve heard it claim that google will prefer when people in France do a Google search. By which I mean, you will rank better in Google. I can’t verify this though. Can someone else?

I never think it’s that important… in fact I avoid obvious country specific domains.

I’d always prefer a .com (perhaps I’m old school?) but like you point out, often taken.

You’re seeing the rise of stuff like .io and .tv and because the domains are a little more expensive and newer to the international market so ‘reasonable words’ are less likely to be squatted upon. Hence

One thing to bear in mind if you’re offering duplicate information targeting multiple markets is to keep in mind Google’s guidelines:

I do frequently limit my search queries in google using site:country_prefix. Example: site:pl something. But I’m an outlier in this behavior.

I’ve run a .com site using VPS located in New York in USA. I’ve moved the site without any other changes to the same company’s VPS located in London. Literally overnight my site saw a lot of visits from UK and these visitors continued to show as long as the site was hosted in London. It happened about 3 years ago.