How to pick a domain extension?
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In this series of blog posts, Openprovider helps you choose the best domain name for your business. While in our previous article, we went over business names, today we are going to talk about the equally important part behind the dot: how to pick a domain extension. First, we will discuss what domain extensions exactly are, before moving on to the five most common domain extensions and four tips on choosing the best domain extension for you.
What is a domain extension?
If you take a look at the address bar of your browser, the domain is what you see below:
“Openprovider” is the domain name, and .com is the domain extension.
If you think of a domain extension, chances are that you think of .com, .org, or .net. These three domain extensions are examples of gTLDs (generic Top Level Domains). In the world of domains, “generic” indicates that the content on a website with one of these extensions is relevant to a generic audience, including users all around the world.
Domain extensions that are restricted to a particular country are called ccTLDs (country code Top Level Domains). To Google or other search engines, these domains indicate that the content on this website is relevant only to a particular geographic area. Examples of ccTLDs include .nl, .be, .pl and .es. Using these particularly makes sense if your website content is aimed at visitors or customers from a particular country.
An important difference between ccTLDs and gTLDs is that the former always consist of just two characters, while the latter consist of three or more.
Some domain extensions that started out as ccTLDs are currently also gaining popularity as gTLDs. For example, you may have seen websites with .co, .ai, .io, and .tv domains. These extensions are particularly popular among start-ups and tech companies. In these cases, the ccTLD is “treated” as a generic TLD, even though all of these were originally restricted to one particular country.
What are the five most popular domain extensions?
As of September 30, 2023, these are the five most popular domain extensions on the Internet:
.com – 160+ million registrations
If you think of a domain extension, chances are you think of .com. It is one of the oldest, most popular, and arguably the most well-known domain extensions in the world. .com domain names make up over 45% of domain names on the Internet. This versatile domain extension lends itself to websites of all kinds: from personal blogs to e-commerce stores and from startups to large enterprises.
.cn – 20+ million registrations
The next domain extension on the list, .cn, is used “only” 20 million times, showing how common .com truly is. .cn is the ccTLD of China, and the majority of websites that use this domain extension are connected to Chinese individuals and businesses.
.de – 17+ million registrations
With over 17 million registrations, .de, the ccTLD of Germany, is the third domain extension on this list. Germany was one of the first countries to get their own ccTLD, and this country has always been at the forefront of developments in the technology industry at large.
.net – 13+ million registrations
Fourth on this list is .net. The second most popular gTLD after .com, .net is one of the oldest and most widely used gTLDs on the Internet. Originally intended for use by websites about network technology, this restriction has since been lifted. Nowadays, .net is a versatile domain extension used by websites of all kinds.
.uk – 11+ million registrations
The top 5 most common domain extensions are completed by .uk, the ccTLD for the United Kingdom. Many of these 11 million .uk domains are actually registered under .co.uk, which is much more popular than its parent extension.
How to choose a suitable domain extension?
With so many options available, choosing the best domain extension can feel like a hard choice. On top of that, certain extensions are very popular, which may mean that the domain name of your choice is already taken. What should you do in that case? At Openprovider, we’ve got you covered with these five tips to pick the best domain extension for you.
1. Domains based on your business type
What is your business type? There are many original domains to choose from that tie in with the product or service that you are offering. What about .coffee for a cafe, .art to showcase your artist portfolio, .fm for a radio station, or .app for a website promoting an application you have created?
Be aware that sometimes, these types of gTLDs demand new applicants to possess certain qualifications to register them. To apply for a .law domain, for example, you need to be able to prove that you are a registered legal professional.
2. Location-specific domains
Where is your business located? Openprovider offers a wide array of location-specific domain extensions, and your city may well be among them. With a domain name like mybusiness.berlin, no one can doubt where your business is at.
Our options stretch across the entire world: from Kyoto to Abu-Dhabi and from Barcelona to Boston. Good to know: local SEO results may also go up if you use the location of your business in your domain or subdomain!
3. Domain extensions that will help in SEO
As a general rule of thumb, most domain extensions are not going to have a negative impact on your SEO results. A popular gTLD like .com does not rank higher than niche gTLDs, like .amsterdam or .agency. Using a niche domain extension, like these latter two, can actually be more beneficial for your SEO results than a .com domain if (part) of your business name or location is reflected in the domain extension. For example, if you are creating a website for a marketing agency, or for a restaurant in Amsterdam, using .agency or .amsterdam could give a positive boost to your ranking.
Last year, Google executive John Mueller made some enlightening comments about domain extensions and their relationship to SEO results on Reddit. As a Google Search Advocate, he is one of the few people in the world who has concrete insights into the mechanisms that determine how Google ranks websites in search results.
On the thread, Mueller generally recommended the use of ccTLDs, including for websites that are targeting a global audience (besides the country that they are connected to). However, remarked that using ccTLDs to achieve “domain hacks” (such as nationwi.de) is not a recommended choice if you are not targeting the associated country at all. He also advised against using “cheap” TLDs that are overrun with spam. Using these will likely not be beneficial for the SEO results of a serious website.
Mueller further clarified that all new TLDs are automatically considered gTLDs, including geoTLDs like .nyc and .berlin. ccTLDs that are used as gTLDs, such as .co, .ai, .io, and .tv , are also treated as gTLDs by Google, meaning that using these domain extensions will not affect your SEO results in a negative way.
It is important to remember that an effective SEO strategy takes considerable effort and includes many small building blocks, of which choosing the best domain name and extension is only one. Factors such as technical SEO, high-quality content, page speed, and metadata play a much larger role than your choice of domain extension.
4. .eco – a sustainable domain
Are you working in the area of sustainability and looking for a unique domain? .eco might be a great option for you! .eco is a special gTLD for businesses and nonprofits working in sustainability and environmental protection.
If you decide to register a .eco domain, you need to take a pledge that you are working towards generating and promoting sustainability and that you are openly disclosing the actions you are taking towards achieving this. Moreover, you automatically become a part of the .eco community, where you can connect with like-minded businesses and entrepreneurs!
5. Something a little different
If you want something to make your website stand out from the crowd, we’ve got our “quirky” gTLDs! They might not be a fit for everyone, but they do make your website stand out! No one will quickly forget a domain that ends in .love, .ninja, .lol, .wtf or .ooo.
Ready to choose a domain?
Feeling inspired? Check if the domain extension of your choice is available in our nifty tool below:
Find your domain
Can’t choose just yet?
You can consult a full list of all of our currently available extensions in our Knowledge Base. With over 2000 domain extensions to choose from, we are sure the perfect fit for your business will be there.
Did you find the perfect domain name? Please make sure that you are comfortable with the pricing of the chosen extension. There might be a difference between the registration price and the renewal price, which comes into effect after the first year.
Luckily, Openprovider is fully transparent about our pricing. You can easily review the renewal price before you decide on your purchase. We also do our best to keep the renewal price as low as possible.
Don’t waste more time and register your domain today!
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