A domain extension or top-level domain (TLD) is the annex that follows after the domain name of any internet address.
Top-level domains were first introduced in the 70s when emails became more popular, and the original number system of IP addresses became insufficient for navigating the web. This is when domain name extensions (.com, .net, and .org) were introduced. Nowadays, there are over 19 million websites registered on the internet, and some of these top domains are getting crowded.
Domain names help to categorize an IP address and assign it to a vaster domain, which is distinguished by location, purpose, or an easy-to-remember URL address.
Below are a few examples of top level domains and their meanings:
- .com (commercial)
- .net (network)
- .org (organization)
- .edu (education)
- .inc (incorporation)
- .biz (business)
- .me (personal)
- .store (online stores)
Thes list above highlights some of the more standard options, but there are over 400 domain extensions available across the web.
When deciding on a domain extension, you should also reflect on which one best represents and serves your purpose. For instance, “.com” is the most familiar domain extension for online brands. As such, this makes your domain name easier for visitors to remember as they’ll usually just assume you’re using this extension by default.
.com websites originally stood for commercial sites, but are now used by all kinds of websites. Here are a few other things to consider as you decide which extension best suits your business.
- .Net websites were initially meant for networks, but are commonly used for all kinds of sites today. .net is a good backup option if your desired domain name isn’t available with a .com extension.
- If you’re an academic institution, the .edu extension becomes available to you. This extension, however, typically isn’t available for public use.
- You should consider choosing the .org extension if you’re a nonprofit organization. If you’re a business, this might be the wrong choice as it sends mixed messages.
Another way to decide on a TLD is to consider the local market your site addresses most. There are over 200 country extensions that might make sense for your business if you operate primarily in one country. For instance, .fr for French-based companies and .de for German-based companies.