Choosing the Right Extension for Your Domain Name

Domain name extensionsA website is essential for any business trying to make it in today’s economy. It doesn’t matter if you’re a small, medium, or large company, or if you’re selling hairpins or rocket engines. There needs to be a place where people can go to learn more about your organization, ask questions, and purchase your products. Your website should be a one-stop shop for all of these things. Of course, not all websites will be the same. The nature and scale of your business is going to play a massive role in determining the composition of your webpage.

People often overlook the importance of choosing a top-level domain (TLD). Your TLD is the thing that follows the name aspect of your domain (.com, .edu, .gov, or others). Believe it or not, this will have an impact on your site. The “top-level” refers to a hierarchy that exists among domain extensions—meaning certain ones are better for search results than others. There are a few things that will help you choose the right extension for your domain name.

Why Is .com So Popular?

Think about when you’re using the Internet. Don’t the vast majority of sites seem to have a .com in their domain? This is because around 75 percent of websites end with a .com TLD. Due to this, you might find that your preferred domain name has already been taken with a .com extension but is available with another one.

So why are so many people opting to use .com when there are so many other options? As already mentioned, there’s a hierarchy to domain extensions. The .com ending is simply the top dog, which makes it preferable over other options in most scenarios. It also stands for “commercial.” This makes it desirable for businesses. When trying to buy domains through Yahoo Small Business or another provider, you really need to consider the value of getting that .com.

When Do You Choose .edu?

There’s really only one general scenario where it makes sense for your organization to use the .edu extension – if it’s educational. You’re not going to get punished for using .edu versus .com because it’s still a highly respected domain extension. After all, places of learning should be respected by search engines. Choosing .edu can differentiate your site from another that might share a similar name.

Should You Use .org or .net?

After so much talk about how you should always gun for the .com option, you might now be hesitant to take a .org or .net domain. These are both top-tier domain options, so it’s really not going to play a significant role in the search engine optimization (SEO) of your site. A .org or .net will carry essentially the same weight in organic search as a .com. However, it still makes sense to go with .com over these if that’s available to you.

What does .io Mean?

More and more organizations are opting to use the .io extension. This has sort of come out of nowhere over the past few years; but it rapidly becoming a major force in the world of domain names. A lot of apps and startups like to use .io. If your website falls into that category, this might be a worthwhile consideration.

Funnily enough, .io is actually the country code for the British Indian Ocean Territory. But since it’s gotten so much use recently, it’s considered a generic extension by search engines.

Country Codes and Other Options

There are actually quite a lot of other options out there. It’s not a terrible idea to use a ccTLD if your site will primarily be accessed in a certain country. This is a country code domain. The most popular ccTLDs are .de, .uk, and .jp. Germany is one place that prefers local ccTLDs to .com. It’s worth noting, however, that just as there are top-tier domain extensions, there are bottom-tier ones as well. These are extensions that are disproportionately associated with negative sites—such as spam or other bad things. Choosing one of these endings (. science, .top, .biz, among others) can potentially hurt your site in terms of trustworthiness.

Domain extensions are an afterthought for most people. But like all things, you really make your website better when you take time to focus on the details. Consider these concepts when choosing your domain extension.