Google has acquired G.co to use as the exclusive domain for shortened URLs of its sites, following in the footsteps of other major Internet companies that have bought .co domains recently and bypassing the crowded field of .com sites.

Google will use G.co for creating URLs that act as shortcuts to its sites, making their URLs easier to distribute via social networks and microblogging services and simpler to remember for end users.

"We'll only use g.co to send you to webpages that are owned by Google, and only we can create g.co shortcuts. That means you can visit a g.co shortcut confident you will always end up at a page for a Google product or service," the company said.

The announcement will not affect the Goo.gl public URL shortening service that Google runs for end users who want to shrink website addresses before sharing them on social media sites.

For the .CO Internet SAS registry operator, this is another high profile customer win. Overstock paid $350,000 (£217,000) for O.co, a domain it is using to rebrand the company internationally, while Amazon has acquired A.co, Z.co, K.co and Cloud.co. Twitter acquired T.co for its URL shortening service.

The .co domain has historically been the country top level domain for Colombia, but with the government's blessing, .CO Internet SAS took over the domain's administration in early 2010 with a commercial strategy to position .co as an alternative to the overcrowded .com.

The company recently announced it exceeded 1 million domain name registrations, which the company views as a sign that it is succeeding in its strategy to market the domain as a safe, attractive option for businesses. .CO Internet SAS has gone to great lengths to prevent domain name squatting and repel speculators, by charging higher fees and working with a select number of reseller registrars that have to comply with strict policies.

The magazine World Trademark Review recently chose .CO Internet SAS' in-house trademark team as one of the best among Internet companies, along with ones from Amazon, eBay, Yahoo and Google.