Top Level Domains

October 17, 2012 in Websites | Comments (0)

A top-level domain (TLD) is the part of your domain name that’s behind the last dot. .com .net & .org are the most well known, but there are many more, and there is the potential for there to be literally thousands more in the next little while.

In the early days, .com was reserved for a unique purpose:

  • .com  was used for commercial, for-profit websites/email
  • .net was for network related domains
  • .org was form not-for-profit organizations

Not many people distinguish between the first two anymore, although for some reason .org has retained it’s original purpose to a large extent. .com is the most popular TLD by a large margin, accounting for about 50% of the websites indexed by Google. As a domain registrar, I can tell you anecdotally that .com is requested about 90% of the time. It’s the easiest to remember, the TLD that most people refer to most commonly.

There are some other TLDs that harken back to the old days too, but registration was regulated (closed) to preserve their integrity. You can be sure if you land on a website with one of the TLDs, you’re on a legitimate site:

  • .gov is for American government websites
  • .edu  is for American educational institutions
  • .mil is for the American military

In addition to these, there are hundreds of country-specific TLDs, the most familiar to us being .ca (Canada) and .uk (Great Britain), as well as more generic ones like .biz and .net

The most recent development from ICANN* (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is that they’re going to allow big corporations to pay large sums of money to create their own TLD. This means you can look forward to .mcdonalds, .walmart, .apple, etc. as well as more generic domains ending in .pizza, .coffee, etc.

It’s strange to think that less than 20 years ago, most of us had no idea what the internet even was. Now, one of the first things any new business does is buy it’s domain name.

Click here to see a list of all current TLDs

- Iain

* – ICANN is the organization that administers all these TLDs

Comments are closed.