After creating your first website, your domain ownership will likely serve as a great source of pride.
It’s your little piece of the “World Wide Web (WWW), and it belongs exclusively to you until you decide to relinquish it.
What a lot of first-timers don’t quite understand is the meaning behind each component of the complete domain name structure.
What is a Domain Name Extension?
If the name of your domain serves as your website’s address, the domain extension will serve as a “zip code.” In other words, the domain extension will serve to further describe more about your domain.
In the early years of the internet, it was already clear that extensions would be necessary as a means of giving webmasters a little more domain-naming flexibility.
At the same time, internet developers (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA)) wanted to make sure that each domain name component had meaning.
The early domain extensions were developed in 1984 and were limited to the following: .com, .edu, .gov, .mil, .org, and .net. which are still the most sought after TLDs today.
Soon after, another two-digit extension component was added to serve as a country identifier, ie: US, .UK, and .CA. In 1988, the int. extension was added.
- .com extension represents standard websites
- .edu extension represents education-involved websites in the US
- .gov extension represents government agencies in the US
- .mil extension represents US military sites
- .net extension is a twin of the .com extension – intended to give more standard options
- .org extension represents non-profits
Note: It is possible for these extensions to be applicable to other types of websites, but the definitions provided above represent the most common definitions.
gTLD vs ccTLD
From time to time, you might see the expression top-level domain or TLD. To help you avoid becoming confused, you simply need to know that TLD is exactly the same thing as a domain extension.
For your edification: you might see some TLDs expressed as follows:
- Generic top-level domains (gTLD) – A generic top-level domain (gTLD) is one of the categories of top-level domains (TLDs) maintained by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) for use in the Domain Name System of the Internet. IANA currently defines 14 gTLDs, which include some of the most commonly used domains on the Internet, such as .com, .net, and .org.
- Country-code top-level domain (ccTLD) – Country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) are domain names that are specific to a certain country or territory. For example, the “.uk” ccTLD is used in the United Kingdom, and the “.de” ccTLD is used in Germany. They tell search engines that the domain is used in specific countries.
- Sponsored top-level domain (sTLD) – for government agency and non-profits
Examples of gTLDs and ccTLDs
Here are just a few examples of some gTLD and ccTLDs that are used quite a lot.
- .com – Commercial
- .net – Network
- .org – Organization
- .info – Information
- .biz – Business
- .us – United States
- .co.uk – United Kingdom
- .ca – Canada
- .de – Germany
- .jp – Japan
- .fr – France
- .au – Australia
- .nz – New Zealand
- .za – South Africa
- .in – India
- .ie – Ireland
Are gTLDs or ccTLDs better for SEO?
That’s hard to answer, as ccTLDs are associated with a specific country, while gTLDs are not.
For US SERPs we typically always recommejnd to get a gTLD (ideally .com), as a gTLD is more likely to be seen as relevant by search engines than a ccTLD. Additionally, gTLDs are often seen as more trustworthy and credible than ccTLDs.
If you operate in foreign SERPS (e.g. Germany, France, Spain, etc.) – you should always try to get a local ccTLD. These will be trusted by the country’s locale and will also be easier to rank for local keywords.
Having said that, we also had great success using top level gTLDs (com/net/org) in foreign SERPs and vice versa, so take everything we say here with a grain of salt 😉
How many TLDs are there?
ICANN, the organization that oversees the internet’s Domain Name System (DNS), has approved the release of 1,300 new TLDs since 2013. In 2022, there will be a total of approximately 2,000 TLDs in existence.
Some of these TLDs are meant to be used for comedic or entertaining purposes, and they are sure to stand out from the rest. While they may not be the most practical TLDs, they are certainly the most unique and weird. Others definitely have a purpose, and can help with brandability.
Here are some that come to mind:
- .tech: A great TLD for technology-related websites or businesses.
- .store: An eCommerce TLD that is perfect for online stores or businesses that sell products.
- .online: A TLD that is perfect for businesses that want to have an online presence.
- .life: A TLD that is perfect for personal websites or blogs.
- .club: A great TLD for clubs, organizations, or businesses that want to create a community around their website.
- .lol: A great TLD for websites that are designed to make people laugh.
- .fun: A great TLD for websites that are all about fun and games.
- .wtf: A great TLD for websites that are shocking or surprising.
- .omg: A great TLD for websites that are OMG-worthy.
While having all these extension options might seem overwhelming, it’s actually good news. The reality is a wider selection of domain extensions gives you more flexibility when naming your website while trying to properly identify your brand.
Here’s an easy-to-understand example.
Let’s say you have a used car lot and want to establish an internet presence. If your name is William, you might think going with a domain like WilliamUsedCars.com would be the most logical choice. Unfortunately, the domain name probably already exists because the world is filled with people named William who run used car lots.
As an alternative, You might go with WilliamAuto.usedcars, .usedcars being the domain extension. With this domain name, you have successfully communicated you are in the auto business, and that you likely sell used cars.
It’s important to note that all of your domain naming efforts should be directed at making it easier for end-users (customers) to find your website. If you stick with a standard .com or .net extension, the search for a used car dealership could result in hundreds of sites popping up. By adding the .usedcars extension, you can successfully narrow down the end user’s options. With the right domain address and extension or extensions, you might drive your site right to the top of searches for used cars.
However, please keep in mind that the top TLDs are there for a reason. com/net/org are still the go to domain extensions and are highly trusted by a lot of people. So if you have the chance to grab your desired domain name or a slight variation of it a top TLD go for it. If you absolutely want some unique brandable domain extension, that’s fine too