Does Your Domain Extension Matter? 
Are you wondering whether you should spend big to get that .com domain, or save a little by buying a .net? What about all those newfangled options like .io, .us, and .biz?
Today, LinkNow Media’s here to answer your questions. In this post, you’ll learn:
- What a domain extension is
- Examples of domain extensions
- Why you should almost always choose a .com extension (hint: It’s not for SEO!)
What Is a Domain Extension?
A domain extension is the end-part of your domain name. It’s also called a top-level domain (TLD), as it represents the highest level of the Domain Name System on the Internet.
For example, this blog’s domain extension is .biz
Your domain name consists of several other parts, including a second-level domain and a subdomain. Here’s a breakdown for another website:
Your domain extension is an integral part of your domain name, so you’ll have to choose wisely.
Naturally, you’ll want to go for a .com like most businesses and professionals. But there’s a problem. A massive number of domains have already been purchased. Many of them will be in use by some other company. But many others will be held like a ransom, to be auctioned off to the highest bidder.
When looking for a domain name, you likely won’t get your first pick. It may be unavailable, or it may simply be too expensive to purchase. Either way, you’ll have to make some sacrifices.
One common approach is to add a hyphen or a filler word to your domain—but that can lead to some awkward domain names that are hard for consumers to remember.
Another approach is to select a different domain extension, like .net or .biz. This has its advantages, to be sure, but it can also pose problems. More on that below.
Example Domain Extensions
By far the most popular domain extension is .com, which is used by over 144 million domains. But it’s hardly the only one.
As of February 2021, there are 1504 TLDs available as domain extensions. Most of them you will never see in your life. But there is a handful you may have encountered.
Some of the most popular domain extensions are:
Some domain extensions are location-based, tied to a specific county or jurisdiction. These are called country code top-level domains (ccTLDs). They include:
- .ca (Canada)
- .us (United States)
- .io (British Indian Ocean Territory)
- .eu (European Union)
- .be (Belgium)
- .tk (Turkey)
Do Domain Extensions Affect SEO?
Your domain extension will have little (if any) effect on SEO. If you’re stuck between a .com or a .net, rest assured that your choice won’t dramatically shift your rankings either way.
Though your domain extension won’t affect your search rankings, your domain name might. Choose a domain name that resembles your business name, and avoid stuffing keywords into it. If you’re a pizza shop in New York City, don’t use a name like best-pizza-shop-nyc.com. Google’s worked hard to combat generic, keyword-stuffed domain names, so don’t use one. And again, avoid adding too many hyphens. One is plenty. Any more, and it starts to look unprofessional.
Can I Use Any Domain Extension I Find?
No. If you can find one, you should almost always choose a .com domain extension.
Your domain extension may not have a big effect on your SEO, but it will affect your users’ behavior.
People trust .com websites more than they trust others. In most folks’ minds, having a .com shows authority. It shows professionalism, and it signifies a level of trust that other domains lack.
Without a .com, visitors may view your website with suspicion. That’s especially true with less-recognizable domain extensions like .io or .be. If they see you with one of those, they may avoid clicking on your site.
Even a .net can cheapen your brand. Though easily recognizable, a .net just doesn’t carry the same weight as a .com. It’s like the lesser-known sibling: Sure, you might see them around. But your attention won’t be on them. It’ll be on the bigger, more successful one.
What If I Can’t Find a .com Domain Name?
Your top pick for a domain name isn’t always going to be available. Fortunately, we have a few tricks that you can use. Here are four alternatives if you can’t find a .com domain name.
1. Tweak Your Domain Name
First, see if you can alter your domain name to find a .com for sale. Don’t stray too far from your business name, but you can add a state, province, or country abbreviation like NY, CA, or AB.
You could also add a broad keyword to the title, but don’t overdo it. Rule number one: keep it short and sweet. Keep it memorable.
If you still can’t find a suitable domain name, try adding a hyphen between two main words. Just don’t add more than one.
2. Use Your Country’s Domain Extension
If you can’t find a .com, your next best option is to try your country’s top-level domain, like .ca for Canada, or .co.uk for the United Kingdom.
Unfortunately, if you’re in the US, there’s not much you can do for this. There is a .us country code, but it doesn’t have the same brand recognition the others do. It’s not very popular, and its use is pretty much restricted to state and local government websites.
3. Consider a “Domain Hack”
Don’t worry: This option isn’t as sketchy as it sounds. It’s not fraudulent or dangerous. It’s just a nifty trick some businesses have used to make a name for themselves.
A domain hack uses your domain extension as part of your business’ name. One of the earliest examples is del.icio.us, a bookmarking website that peaked in the 2000s but is currently inactive. As you can see, they cleverly used their domain extension to spell “delicious.”
Many big brands have followed suit. Google has goo.gl, YouTube youtu.be—the list goes on.
If your business’ name ends in -ly, you could acquire a .ly domain to keep it succinct. If you run a studio, try a domain that ends in stud.io. There are hundreds of possibilities, so don’t be afraid to experiment.
4. Use a Different Domain Extension
If none of the above options will work, it’s time to look at alternative domain extensions. Just make sure you choose something people will recognize. Choose an extension people will trust, like a .net or—if you’re a non-profit—a .org.
It’s not the end of the world if you can’t get that beloved .com. Besides, with the money you save, you can put it into something else, like your SEO strategy. Something that matters.
- There are over 1000 available domain extensions
- Domain extensions have a small effect on SEO, but a big effect on user behaviour
- Opt for a .com, but if unavailable, choose a high-profile extension like .net, or use a domain hack
Looking for More Web Dev Tips? LinkNow’s Here to Help
With over 10,000 clients, LinkNow Media is one of North America’s premier Web design firms. We develop cutting-edge designs that reflect the spirit of our clients’ businesses. We also help them find suitable domain names that are affordable and easily recognizable.
If you need help with your Web presence, consider us the first company to call. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 1-888-667-7186, or drop us a comment below to get started.Share: