So, you’ve decided to set up a website. You have thought about everything: your site’s theme, the type of visitors you want to target, and even the perfect domain name. You can’t wait to get your site up and running!
But then you are presented with a list. It’s a list of top-level domains (or TLDs for short) that have different suffixes after the period that follows your preferred domain name. Some look familiar like .com, .net, and .org – which one should you choose?
The Big 3 – .COM, .NET, .ORG
.com is by far the most popular TLD out there. As of July 2013, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) says there are 112,071,447 .com domains registered around the world. The bulk of these .com domains come from North America, with almost 77 million registered in that one continent alone!
The .com TLD was originally meant to be used for commercial purposes (hence the short form “com”) but it’s now available for virtually everyone. Its popularity causes most people to assume that the website they’re searching for uses this TLD. It’s no surprise that most people automatically search for the availability of their domain name in .com first.
.net and .org are also commonly used for a variety of sites. In the past, .net domains were reserved for Internet companies, while .org domains were meant for organizations and non-profits. Nowadays, anyone can register their site with these TLDs since there is no regulation.
ICANN statistics show that there are around 15.5 million registered .net domains and a little over 10 million registered .org domains as of July 2013. Just like .com, most .net and .org sites out there are registered in North America.
Choosing the Right TLD
It’s important to determine the purpose of your site before selecting a TLD. If the main objective is to sell products, consider choosing .com or .biz. If it’s a site that will represent an organization, .org could be your best bet.
Keep in mind that if you want to target local visitors in your area to your site, then you can use country code TLDs. Some popular ones include .co.uk (United Kingdom), .ca (Canada), .com.au (Australia), and so on. Remember that many TLDs have restrictions. In our next post, we will talk about some common TLDs that have rules – especially country-specific ones!
Also, remember to consider Search Engine Optimization. Some TLDs will naturally rank higher in search engines compared to others. .com ranks the highest over other TLDs (which is just one reason why it’s so popular). In order to maximize traffic to your site, avoid low quality TLDs such as .info or .name.
Finally, it’s also very useful to have more than one domain name directing customers to the same site. For example, maybe you own a little cafe and you’ve purchased the domain www.karenscafe.com. You can also purchase www.karenscafe.biz, www.karenscafe.net, etc. This can be very helpful in building your brand identity.
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