This is one of those questions that pops up on a regular basis because of the difficulty of securing .com websites. There are so many options available today but is it better to select a different website name and stay on .com or use the name you want but with a different top-level domain? Not sure what a TLD is or how to answer the question, read on.
A top-level domain is the last part of a domain name; it’s what follows the (.).
Some of the most common top-level domains in the US are .com, .edu, .gov, and .org. You’re probably familiar with each of these and know they’re used most commonly.
Of these, .com is the most popular and can be the hardest to secure. If you’re searching for a .com domain name and it’s not available, you’ll often find a domain registry service suggests alternatives such as .us, .net, and .biz but do you know if they’re good for your business? What’s more important? The overall website name or the top-level domain type?
In the SEO community, we used to feel that .com was the most crucial TLD and recommended not using alternatives. However, Google says the TLD choice doesn’t impact your overall rankings. Their parent company Alphabet uses one of the new generic top-level domains, XYZ for their TLD. It’s highly unlikely Google would penalize themselves (or their parent company). So, within the community, there’s less push to use .com from an SEO perspective. However, from an overall marketing perspective, there’s still something to .com domains because they’re what customers are most familiar with.
Did you know that you can get top-level domain names that are closely tied to your business or explain more about what you do?
There are even some companies that have registered their generic top-level domains.
Some of the more popular top-level domains in the US are the official TLDs for other countries. Some countries limit the use of their TLDs and others don’t. For example, .co is technically Colombia’s TLD; however, it’s been so widely used that Google now recognizes it as a generic country code TLD meaning it can be used anywhere, worldwide. .Ly is the official top-level domain for Libya, and some sites were able to register with it, (ex. Bit.ly) but they haven’t allowed new ones for some years.
Other popular top-level domains that are actually country specific include:
There are so many options you can choose from when setting up a website, does TLD even matter? It does. While Google says the choice of TLD doesn’t impact your keyword rankings, it could impact your overall traffic. For example, if you want to register a domain but the .com option isn’t available, and you opt for .co instead, there’s a chance your customers will end up on the .com website instead because people are used to .com domains. Are you OK with that risk? How comfortable are you with branding yourself or your business to ensure people know you have a different TLD than what they might expect?
Should you use a generic TLD? There are so many options available but does that strategy make sense? You can see the full list here to get an idea. Does it make sense to create a website with one of these new top-level domains?
Possibly. It does give you options for domain names that are no longer available on a .com platform but again, will your customers know how to find your website or will they revert to .com and end up on someone else’s site?
The first generic TLDs were released in October 2013; they haven’t taken off yet. Will they? It’s hard to know for sure. In the future, I think people may adapt to the generic TLDs, but for today, I believe a traditional one is your best option for business. You can always register a generic TLD and redirect it to your current .com. If you visit Etched.Marketing you’ll be redirected to www.EtchedMarketing.com because who knows, in the future, the generic TLD may be the best option for the business and why not register it now in case? Planning for both today and the future is good.
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