Your website is its own entity on the internet and should therefore be as unique as possible in order for you to maximize its benefits. While your content, themes, and overall designs can help with this, those usually matter initially far less than your domain name or URL. Your URLs needs to be unique, distinct, and marketable all at the same time while having beneficial domain name extensions.
Since there are plenty of information about the main URL component, we’re here to talk about domain name extensions and how your choice of a particular one can affect your website. For starters, these are the “.com,” or “.net” designations you see at the end of every website address.
You might think that they don’t impact your website but a lot of factors come into play in how websites with specific domain name extensions perform at the beginning of a website’s life. So, think of this as a crash course or something to keep in mind when choosing a name for your blog or website.
Top-Level Domains (TLD)
Top-Level Domains (TLD) is the encompassing term or designation for the most common domain name extensions you see. They are called “Top-Level” since they rank at the top of the hierarchy when it comes to domain names. You see, the whole internet has a Domain Name System that is decentralized and handles how websites with such domain names appear when people search for them.
In a sense, Top-Level Domains are what you’re after when you create a website so that it’s indexed better when it comes to the internet. A good example of how this can affect URLs is when you search for a website name used by lots of website owners. Usually, Google will give you a website with a TLD that’s at the top where you can see websites using “.com” as the first result followed by something less prominent like “.net” even if they have the same website name.
Country Code TLDs (ccTLD)
You’re probably alive long enough to notice that even whole countries or at least their governments need their own websites. For that matter, they also need their own domain name extensions. They simply can’t pick the more general “.com” because they’re not exactly private entities who are competing for the market.
As such, each country is assigned its own TLD that only it will use. You’ll usually see these in your own country’s website, “.us” for United States, “.au” for Australia, and so on and so forth. Sometimes, satellite websites may also use these to inform people that the website they’re viewing is not the main one or a translated one.
Generic TLDs (gTLD)
Generic TLDs are the common domain name extensions that the typical website owner uses. As the name implies, they’re not unique to a certain country or the members of a sovereign. Nevertheless, they affect your website significantly. The domain name extension you pick or get stuck with most likely be permanent and might cost quite a lot to change or could even lead to lawsuits depending on which hornets’ nests you shake.
As such, here are some of the most frequently used and preferred gTLDs. Some of them are so prevalent, they have become the standard for the usual website and even laymen know what they are on surface level.
.com stands for “commercial” and is administered by an American network infrastructure network company named Verisign. The original intention for .com domains is for-profit use or businesses but as you can see these days, almost everyone uses it. It has become the most recognizable that even non-profit businesses use and prefer it.
Anyone is also allowed to register their website to this domain since it’s an open TLD. Even so, you can’t just liberally use .com for your blog or website especially if it’s not considered a business yet as the domain registration can be disputed by someone else who wants the slot you took. This is so to prevent squatting on the domain.
You may think that .org is limited only to organizations since that’s what it stands for but it’s actually an open TLD just like .com. As implied by the name, the original intended use for this domain name extension is for organizations whether non-profit or otherwise. Some have even stuck to that principle. Even its administrator, Public Interest Registry, designed it for non-profit entities.
Again, due to its popularity and widespread use, lots of bloggers and companies have resorted to using .org for strategic means. It’s not as common, prominent, or desirable as .com, of course, so not many would dispute your claim to such a domain.
.net which stands for network, is another open TLD administered by Verisign as well and its original intended use was for domains pointing to “umbrella” sites or websites that act as a portal to smaller ones. It has since been used for many other strategic purposes as well and sometimes even as an alternative to .com if that was already taken.
Unlike the first three TLDs mentioned, .edu which stands for education is not open and can only be used by higher educations or tertiary schools, basically colleges and universities.
Like .edu, .gov is also not open and as you might have guessed, stands for government. It can only be used by a country’s governments as their umbrella website.
There are more generic domains too that represent many other aspects of a business or entity but these are the most usual ones you can find online.
Second-Level Domains, are a tier below TLDs (generic or otherwise). An example would be domains with “.co.uk” which makes them more specific to a country but can affect their visibility or indexing for a website. Other combinations include “.gov.xx” where xx stands for the country code in order to distinguish it from other country’s government websites.
Anything to the left of the dot of the country code is the Second-Level domain.
Now the Third-Level domain is directly below the Second-Level domains but they can be confusing. The baseline definition for them is that it is the domain name that exists to the left of the dot of a Second-Level domain. An example would be yahoo.com.uk where “yahoo” would be the Third-Level domain.
Now that you know more about domain name extensions, do note that as a blogger, you’d always want to shoot for the TLDs and to keep your URL as short or as clean as possible. Happy name domain hunting!