Part of branding your business is creating and maintaining a website. Selecting a domain name is the first step of that process.

When searching for the right domain, you may find your first choice is unavailable. This doesn’t mean your digital presence can’t still align with your brand or the way you envision it. Attaching a different domain suffix to your web address can afford you more flexibility when deciding on a URL.

If your brand name is already taken and can’t use a .com suffix, or if a .com domain doesn’t best-describe what your organization does, top-level domains are there for you.

What Are Top-Level Domains?

Every domain name on the internet contains a top-level domain label, known as a TLD. Most sites use the following common domain labels:

  • .com
  • .org
  • .edu
  • .gov
  • .uk
  • .net

These labels have been developed and approved by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN. However, as of 2014, anyone has the ability to create their own top-level domains.

Benefits of Websites Not Using .Com

Before the creation of top-level domains was open to anyone, entrepreneurs faced a unique challenge when a desired domain was already in use. They could buy out the .com domain currently in use, pair the desired domain name with another common top-level domain such as .net, or begin a search for a new domain name altogether.

With over 1,000 TLDs to choose from, it is more difficult for cybersquatters to buy-up specific website addresses and resell them for profit to companies that want that domain name. Rather than paying tens of millions of dollars for a single website domain, companies can now choose a different TLD for the same domain and still incorporate their brand name in the URL.

As more TLDs have become available, states are also introducing specific TLDs for businesses inside their borders. A wider variety of TLDs also means entrepreneurs can keep their URLs simple and avoid using hyphens or too many words. The easier domains are read by humans, the more suitable they are for search engines.

Issues with Websites Not Using .Com

.Com has been the default TLD since 1985 and is, by far, the most recognized and trusted domain suffix across the internet. For this reason, companies are aware .com TLDs have an inherent value.

Another issue is the potential negative effect individuals using trademark names with different TLDs have on online commerce. Corporations are leery of the ever-growing number of top-level domains and the obstacles they may present for businesses when it comes to looking after and protecting their brand names.

If a trademark owner feels a site is infringing their name with the use of an alternate TLD, legal action can be taken. For instance, if someone purchases the domain cocacola.net, the use of the .net suffix does not protect that entity from the legal repercussions of infringing the CokeTM trademark.

SEO Impact of Top-Level Domains

Inc.com notes TLDs “do not offer any intrinsic value to improve SEO.” However, because .com TLDs have such an established status online, search engines typically trust them more.

Using lesser-known TLDs can have a noticeable impact on your business’s SEO. Moz.com suggests avoiding low-quality TLDs like .biz, .info, .ws and .name. These domains are less familiar for most internet users and are often associated with spam.

If a .com TLD is not available for your desired website domain, think about using TLDs like .net or .co instead.

Choose Your Domain and TLD

Now that you know how to best select a website domain and top-level domain for your business, you’re ready to take on all that organic traffic you’ve been craving. At Strategy, we work hard to make sure our and our client’s websites are fully optimized. If you have any questions about your website, contact us today!

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