In the past, businesses were often limited to generic options like .com, .net, or the less appealing .biz domains. However, the digital landscape has evolved, offering a plethora of new and creative TLDs that allow you to tailor your web address to your industry, location, or even your specific products and services.
Today's TLD options range from industry-specific choices like .tech, .health, or .finance to fun and creative options like .guru, .ninja, or .cool. These modern TLDs offer an excellent opportunity to make your web address more memorable, relevant, and aligned with your brand identity.
In this comprehensive guide, we'll walk you through the various TLD options available and provide actionable tips on how to choose the one that's the perfect fit for your business's online presence. Whether you're launching a new website or considering a rebrand, selecting the right TLD is a crucial step you won't want to overlook.
» Start off your research well with funny stories of epic web page chrashes.
What Is a Top-Level Domain?
Domains are structured hierarchically, often consisting of subdomains and directories. The pinnacle of this hierarchy is the top-level domain (TLD), commonly referred to as the "domain extension."
The .com TLD is arguably the most recognized, often considered the gold standard. Joseph B. Walther's 2004 study, "The Effect of Top-Level Domains and Advertisements on Health Web Site Credibility," highlighted how TLD choices can influence content credibility and visitor expectations.
With the rise of bookmarking and social media sharing, domain memorization has become less critical. The internet's exponential growth has led website owners to seek alternative TLDs due to the influx of new sites.
Popular Types of TLDs
ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) and IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority), responsible for TLDs, now manage over 1,500 options. While some have specific criteria, over 1,200 are generic top-level domains (gTLDs) open to everyone.
Traditional choices like .com, .net, and .org remain popular and often command higher prices. However, newer options like .io (a favorite in the tech sector) and city-specific TLDs like .nyc (great for local businesses) are gaining traction.
Currently, popular gTLDs include:
- .top is a good choice for a site that provides rankings, like myfootball.top which showcases team scores.
- .loan(s) is an obvious choice for banks and other lenders. An example of its value is evident when in 2018, Blake Janover purchased the domain name home.loans for half a million dollars.
- .xyz If you want a playful and quirky domain, look into ".xyz." A notable example is abc.xyz, owned by Alphabet, an investor relations firm in the tech industry.
- .club Ideal for private organizations and wellness businesses. Take femgems.club, for instance, which welcomes female founders of businesses as members.
- .online A top-level domain that has particular appeal for those that provide an internet service. Gaming site taptoplay.online capitalizes on that.
Country-specific vs. Generic TLDs
Country-specific TLDs (like .jp for Japan) are primarily for entities within that nation. However, they can be advantageous even without a direct country connection. For instance, Italy's .it is popular among IT professionals.
Availability varies based on local regulations. Always check with your domain registrar and remember that visitors might assume your business is based in that country.
Pro Tips for Choosing the Perfect TLD
Choose your TLD based on the image that you want to convey online. Traditional domains like .com or .org suit well-established institutions, while something like .men could enhance a new fashion/lifestyle publication's image.
You can merge your TLD with your business name. For instance, Instacart could have used .art to minimize characters and have their domain be instac.art, making the URL easier to type.
Because there are so many TLD choices available today, you can explore creative pairings. And classics like .com are always a dependable option.
» Still need help choosing domain name? Ease in with our certified advice.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a TLD
Consider your audience's perception when making online decisions. For instance, .biz is now viewed skeptically due to its association with unreliable businesses.
You'll also need to account for machine learning-based phishing and spam detection models' view of your domain name. The paper, Everything Is in the Name – A URL Based Approach for Phishing Detection, explains how such machines see domain names.
Steer clear of domains resembling existing entities, as taking something like homedepot.store, could mistake your page for phishing. The paper above also warns against lengthy or "bag of words" domain names.
Analyze the interpretations of your full domain name well—any unintended innuendo or offensive language can seriously harm your image.
The diverse selection of top-level domains can enhance your branding through creative domain name choices.
Exercise caution and consider all perspectives. Think about how both humans and machines could perceive the web address of your choice.
Once you have the right TLD for your website, you can register the domain with either a domain registrar or with a web hosting provider that offers the service, like Bluehost or GoDaddy. Here, we have a list of the best domain hosting with registrars.
» And if you've decided to go with a web host, see our expert guide on how to choose one.