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Which Domain Extension is Right For You?

What are TLDs and when to use them

25 May 2020 2020-11-25 Technology
There are over 400 different extensions available, so we won’t be able to cover them all here, but let’s take a look at the most popular options, and when they’re best used as an extension for your domain.

TLD, or Top-Level Domain, is the part of the domain name on the right of the dot ("."). The most common TLDs are .com, .net, .org.

The top-level domain developed simultaneously with the introduction of the domain name system (DNS). Prior to this, it was common for different computers to communicate over the Internet only with a corresponding IP address. The rewriting of the decimal codes into web addresses was absolutely necessary for a more common practice. In January 1985, the first Domain was registered with nordu.net. The first .com addresses followed in March. In Germany, the first domains were registered in 1988.

In order to be able to better classify the later registrations, the IANA has given out both generic (gTLD) and country-specific domain endings (ccTLD). There are also two infrastructure TLDs with .arpa and .root. .com, and it's typically the first TLD searched when registering a new TLD.


Generic top-level domains

Generic top-level domains are usually allocated to organizations and companies. Two different groups are distinguished: uTLD and sTLD.

uTLD - non-sponsored TLD

These domains are distributed and controlled by ICANN and the Internet Society. They refer to groups and organizations.

.comCommercial. This is the most popular extension and originally stood for commercial sites, but now it is used for all kinds of websites. TLD .com was one of the first top level domains implemented back in January 1985. It's original intention was for commercial entities, but today almost anyone can register a .com domain. TLD .com is so ubiquitous that many people assume a website should end with .com, and it's typically the first TLD searched when registering a new TLD.
.orgOrganization. Meant for organizations. Best used if your website is for a nonprofit company. Not the ideal solution if you’re a business as it sends mixed messages.
.netNetwork. Originally intended for networked websites, this domain extension is used for a wide variety of purposes today. This is a good backup if your ideal choice is taken in the .com extension. It’s also good for tech companies as "net" implies technology and networking.
.infoInformation. This is best used if your website is purely there for information or as a database of knowledge. If you’re not selling anything, then this domain could work well.
.nameFor families and individuals.
.bizBusiness. An alternative to .com domains for businesses, but it does have some bad connotations because of spammy sites using it.
.proSpecial TLD for certified specialists.
.arpaInfrastructure domain.

Over time, the purpose of many non-sponsored TLD has softened. Today, domains can no longer be identified by these extensions.
sTLD - sponsored top level domain

These domain endings are under the control of independent organizations or government organizations and are also financed by them. The rules for their allocation are drawn up by these organizations as well.

.aeroFor aerospace companies or companies active in the sector.
.asiaOriginally intended for individuals and companies of the Asia-Pacific region and Australia, the ending has been available for anyone since 2007.
.catSpecifically designed for websites that address the Catalan language and culture
.coopReserved for cooperatives.
.eduEducation. This one isn’t typically available for public registration, and is instead used by colleges and educational institutions.
.govRestricted for governments and agencies.
.intRestricted for international organizations established by treaty.
.jobsReserved for companies that present job offers
.milReserved for US military sites
.mobiFor domains specifically designed for mobile devices such as tablets or smartphones
.museumFor home pages of museums
.postFor logistics companies and postal services
.telDesigned for the standardized backup of contact data and their publication
.travelReserved for the tourism industry, e.g. Airlines
.xxxFor websites with erotic content

Country code top-level domains

The country codes are defined according to ISO-3166. There are more than 200 ccTLDs (country-specific top-level domains) in total. Each country is assigned a two-digit country code. In addition, individual independent regions may receive their own TLD.

Exceptions to this rule are the country code .uk for domains from the United Kingdom as well as .eu, for websites originating from the EU. The introduction of subdomains for the .eu ending is planned. As soon as states change, new ccTLDs are created. An example of this is the former abbreviation .zr for Zaire. Because the country is now called the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it now has the country code .cd.

The rules for the allocation of country-specific domain endings are defined by each country itself. For a large part of the ccTLD, it is necessary that the corresponding website is operated by a company working in the country concerned or a person living in that country. This is the case, for example, with the top-level domain of France (.fr).

In Germany, the rule was that a domain needed to have more than two digits before the ending. This is now outdated. In England, only specific third-level domain names are allowed for a second name level, e.g. co.uk for commercial websites.


List of domains by the european countries

.euLaunched on 7 December 2005, the domain is available for any person, company or organization based in the European Economic Area.
.amArmenia
.atAustria
.baBosnia
.beBelgium
.bgBulgaria
.byBelarus
.chSwitzerland
.czCzech Republic
.deGermany. German postal address for administrative contact (admin-c) required. Proxy registrations are allowed.
.dkDanemark
.eeEstonia
.esSpain
.fiFinland
.frFrance. Restricted to individuals and companies in European Union, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
.ggGuernsey
.glGreenland
.grGreece
.huHungary. Citizens of the European Union or entities established by law within the territory of the EU.
.ieIreland. In 2002, registration was expanded to include persons or businesses with a "real and substantive" connection with the island of Ireland (including Northern Ireland).
.imIsle of Man
.isIceland
.itItaly. Restricted to companies and individuals in the European Union.
.jeJersey
.liLiechtenstein
.ltLithuania
.luLuxemburg
.lvLatvia
.mdMoldova. Restricted to individuals or companies with a physical address in Moldova.
.mkMacedonia. Restricted to registration with a company in North Macedonia.
.mtMalta
.nlNetherlands
.noNorway. Businesses and professionals must be registered as an approved type of organization in the Brønnøysund Register Centre. Individual applicants must be of age (18 years) and be registered in Folkeregisteret. All applicants must have a Norwegian postal address. Also unofficially used and marketed as a domain hack (for example oh.no, what.no, etc.).
.plPoland
.ptPortugal
.roRomania
.rsSerbia
.ruRussia
.seSweden
.siSlovenia
.skSlovakia. Restricted to Slovak companies, organisations and citizens.
.trTurkey
.uaUkraine. Ukrainian trademark required.
.ukUnited Kingdom. The ISO 3166-1 code for the United Kingdom is GB. UK is a specially reserved ISO 3166-1 code. However, the creation of the .uk TLD predates the ISO 3166-1 list of ccTLD and is the primary TLD for the United Kingdom.

nTLD - new top level domain

In June of 2012, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) revealed their plans to create a program that would launch hundreds of new top level domains (nTLDs) and expand the internet as we know it. The first four registry agreements were signed at an ICANN conference just one year later and a new era of internet was born.

Now there are over 1200 nTLDs (more commonly known as New Domains) available. With so many extensions now available, your chances of finding the perfect domain will be better than ever. Choose from descriptive domain choices like .SHOP, .APP, and even offbeat extensions like .NINJA and .BUZZ. New Domains can describe your passion, your personality, your profession, or anything else that matters to you.

Unfortunately, not all new gTLDs are created equal. For example, there was a controversy about some registry providers increasing some of their prices tenfold or more. Some registri provider also doesn’t allow whois privacy on their top-level domains, which is a real shame. These issues make it hard to recommend some new domain extensions at present.

Another issue could be the hit in the reputation of certain namespaces. In a study based on research conducted by IBM, it was revealed that new gTLDs comprise seven of the top 10 domains used by spammers. For instance, if you decide to have a website on .CLICK, .LINK, or .XYZ you may run into more issues with URLs or emails flagged as spam than others because you’re in a bad neighborhood.

Choose the domain extension that fit your goals

The original three domains available for general domain name registration, .com, .org, and .net remain among the world’s most popular. The .com domain extension will certainly remain the most popular for years to come, and it could remain the king of domain extensions for coming decades or longer. The most popular top-level domains vary by country. In some countries, country code top-level domains are more popular than in others.

When choosing a domain TLD for your web address, popularity is a factor you should consider. For some less technically-inclined people, the .com extension is, for all intents and purposes, synonymous with websites. These web users may not trust domains that do not have an extension that they recognize. Domain names are an essential characteristic of all websites. Be sure to pick a TLD consistent with your brand and your vision that way you will have no problems in establishing your online presence.

It’s important to determine the purpose of your site before selecting a TLD. If the main objective is to go international or 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 .si (Slovenia), .it (Italy), .de (Germany), and so on. Remember that many TLDs have restrictions.

Lastly, the age of your audience might also be something to consider. Seems that new generation consider typing "www" each time the way how "old people find websites". General speaking means that nearly overyone over 30 age habitualy write urls with "www" at the front, and everyone under 18 always omitte.

The above could be an indication that Millennials might not care that much about domain extensions, i.e. they will not type in the domain name at all. If that’s the audience you’re targeting, your TLD choice might be entirely open.

The internet is still in its infancy, and so is the naming and discoverability of our online property. Traditional domain names like .com, .net, and .org have been around for more than 30 years and it’s hard to imagine an immediate future without domains. However, this future will look very different due to the new gTLDs which only started appearing a few years ago.


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