Do you know all the different domain types and what they are best used for? Learn more in this guide to web domains and their uses.
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When you’re setting up a website of any sort—be it a blog, online store, or business page—one of the first things you have to do is select a domain name.
As you go through your long list of options, you’ll probably notice that some are much more expensive than others. It’s tempting to go with the cheapest option, but did you know that the domain you choose can actually affect your website’s SEO?
Before you make your decision, it’s important to understand the different domain types and when each one is best used. Read on to find out how computer domains work and which one is best for your website.
Computer domains are like the house addresses of the internet. When someone wants to visit a website, What Is a Computer Domain, and How Does It Work? tells their computer exactly which part of the internet to go to.
More specifically, a domain is the part of a URL that sits between the HTTP:// and the first slash. It usually looks something like “example.com” and is composed of a top-level and sub-domain. The subdomain is the name of the site—in this case, “example.” The top-level domain is the extension, like .com, that comes afterward.
Top-level domains also signify what type of website you’re visiting. Some, like .edu or .gov, communicate an authoritative source. Others, like .com, usually mean you’re visiting a business page.
Common Top-Level Domain Types
The internet has thousands of different top-level domains to choose from. Each has its own intended use and target market, and some are restricted or location-specific. Here are a few of the most common types of domains in use today.
These TLDs are the domain extensions you’re probably the most familiar with. They include:
.com: Originally intended for commercial use, this is now by far the most common domain extension, used by almost 47% of all websites.
.org: This extension was originally intended for non-profit organizations, but is now used by for-profit organizations as well.
.net: Designed for use by computer networking agencies, the .net extension is now used by sites that cover the whole gamut of topics.
Despite their primary purposes, these generic TLDs aren’t restricted, so anyone can use them. Because of their popularity, though, they’re usually the most expensive options on the list.
Some domains are only up for grabs if your website fits into a certain category.
.edu: Restricted for use by educational institutes, like schools and universities.
.gov: Identifies American federal, state, and civil governmental agencies.
.mil: Used exclusively by branches of the U.S. military.
If you’re making a personal or business website—especially outside of the U.S.—you shouldn’t need to worry about these domain extensions.
Country Code TLDs
Most countries around the world have their own location-specific TLD known as a country code. These two-letter domain extensions are restricted for use by businesses and organizations in the corresponding country.
For example, a business in Ireland might make use of the country code ie domain. Instead of creating a domain name like “irishcompany.com”, they could use “company.ie” to signify their status as an Irish business.
ICANN-Era Generic TLDs
Back in 2012, an organization called ICANN underwent a huge project to expand the list of available TLDs online. As a result, you can now buy a domain name that ends in anything from “.online” to “.beer”.
Check out the full list of generic, ICANN, and country-code TLDs to see all of the ones available today.
Choosing the Right Website Domain Name
When it comes time to choose your domain name, try to keep it consistent with what your site offers while also choosing one that’s popular enough to be picked up by search engines. Look through the domain types listed above to find one that meets your needs and budget.
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