If you are thinking of getting a domain name for your website, then selecting the appropriate Top Level Domain is necessary for your business. There are many different categories of TLDs, like generic TLDs, country-code TLDs, infrastructure TLDs, and sponsored TLDs. Apart from TLDs, there are other different types of domain names like second-level domain and third-level domain. Let’s discuss in detail about Top Level Domains.
What is the meaning of TLD?
Top-Level Domain or TLD is the very last part of the domain name. They are also known as domain suffixes. The easiest way to identify a TLD is like this: A TLD or top-level domain is the ending of a domain name or website – .com, .edu, .org, .net, .gov, etc. Top Level Domains are something about the website associated with it; like the geographical area, its purpose or the type of organization. Each TLD has an individual registration which is managed by a designated organization under the direction of ICANN or Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. ICANN has generally been very stringent about opening up new TLDs, but in 2010, it decided to permit the creation of numerous new generic TLDs as well as top-level domains for company-specific trademarks.
Purpose of TLDs
Top-level domains are an easy way to understand what a website is about or where it’s based. For example, a .gov address means that the material on the website is centred on government. A top-level domain of .ca indicates that the registrant with a Canadian organization. There’s also a side effect of TLDs, which is the similarity. There are several companies with multiple websites, which can use the same name but be different sites or companies. For example, lifewire.com is a website, but lifewire.org is another with the same name but different TLD. But, note that they are different websites. It’s for this specific reason that some companies register multiple TLDs so that anyone going to the other URLs will still land on the company’s main website. For example, google.com to reach the Google website, but you can also reach there through google.net.
Types of Top-Level Domains
Top-level domains are categorized into 2 main categories – generic top-level domain (gTLD) and country-code top-level domains (ccTLD). The other three minor categories are infrastructure top-level, domain international top-level domains, and sponsored top-level domains. They are explained as follows:
1. Country Code Top-Level Domain (ccTLD)
In order to differ between the countries which use similar top level domains like .com or .gov, two letters country domain names were established to represent a particular country or geographical area. In a simpler way, Country Code TLD or ccTLD are the ones ending with two letters (ISO code) representing a country. For example, .ca and .au, to represent Canada and Australia, respectively. When created, ccTLDs were to be limited to those countries residents. But now, certain countries have let outside parties register domain names using their country code. Here are a few examples of ccTLDs-
- .us: United States
- .in: India
- .de: Germany
- .fr: France
- .cn: China
- .mx: Mexico
- .jp: Japan
2. Generic Top-Level Domain
These are the most common and familiar ones. These are open for anyone to register domain names under .com (commercial), .org (organization), .net (network), .name (name), .biz (business), and .info (information). Out of 1,500 generic TLDs already in use, these 21 generic top level domain names make up the vast majority of all types of domain names – .com, .net, .org, .info, .pro, .biz, .name, .edu, .int, .mil, .gov, .aero, .asia, .mobi, .cat, .coop, .travel, .tel, .jobs, .arpa, and .museum.
3. Sponsored Top-Level Domain
These are the sub-part of gTLDs. A Sponsored TLD is used by specific niches and is not allowed for use by the general population or general customers. These are overseen by a private organization and are considered restricted because certain guidelines are required to fulfill before their registration. In other words, sponsored top-level domains are those that are backed by a community that shares professional, geographical, ethnic, or technical features. Sponsored domain names can only be used by businesses involved with that industry, like .edu (education), .mil (military), and .gov (government). Two of the most recognizable sTLDs are .gov and .edu. The .gov domain is only available and in use by the government of America while the .edu domain is only available to postsecondary education institutions and related organizations for registration. Similarly, the .areo domain is restricted to the air-transport industry, and .cat is only for members of the Catalan language or region. Some other widely used sponsored TLDs are-
- .jobs – Must be registered under the legal name of a company or organization
- .int (international) – for international organizations for treaty-related purposes, and requires a United Nations registration number
- .tel (telnic) – for businesses who publish contact information
- .museum – for museums
- .mobi (mobile) – have to adhere to mobile-compatible guidelines
4. Infrastructure Top-level Domain
There is only one TLD under infrastructure TLD, which is, ARPA (Address and Routing Parameter Area). This top-level domain is used solely for technical infrastructure purposes, such as resolving a hostname from a given IP address.
5. International Top-Level Domain
Internationalized top-level domains are top-level domains that are displayed in the native-language alphabet. These domains are used by individual countries in their native scripts. There are currently 45 approved ccTLDs. Some of them are mentioned below:
- .рф (Russia)
- 中国 (China)
- السعودية “Saudi Arabia”
- 台灣 (Taiwan)
How to Register a Domain Name?
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is in charge of managing top-level domains, but you can get your domain name registered through a domain registrar. Some popular domain registrars who provide trustable and affordable domain registration services are Crazy Domains, Domain.com, Bluehost, Google Domains and Namecheap. If you’re looking to start a new website, keep in mind that there are also ways to get a free domain name, but chargeable web hosting.
Things to keep in mind before registering for a Top-Level Domain
1. Root Domains and Subdomains are different from TLDs
Sometimes, the domain can get confusing. A subdomain is the first part of the domain name. For example ‘www’. A root domain is that middle part of the URL which is unique. For example, ‘google’ in www.google.com.
2. More linking TLDs don’t mean better SEO
A website needs a link to rank in the search results. Gathering links from unique TLDs don’t mean better SEO. A quality link is a quality link, regardless of the top-level domain. A variety of TLD linking is fine, but not essential for a good link profile.
3. Using a new TLD for your website won’t improve your ranking
The newer TLDs aren’t bad. They’re just so new to the domain world that most people aren’t aware of them. If a custom TLD helps your brand awareness or memorability, you can freely use it. But as seen from the SEO perspective, it might not be much of a help.
4. The more common the TLD, the safer the SEO
If the TLD you are using for your website is something similar to .com, .org, .net, etc., then you’re probably playing safe with SEO.
5. The less-common the TLD, the riskier the SEO
There are some TLDs that have become so crowded by spam sites that the TLD itself is perceived as risky or junk. As far as we know, Google’s algorithm does not identify spam sites based on their TLD, like .xxx, .ws, .cc, etc.
In the end, top-level domains are an important part of SEO, but they are not something to depend on for the ranking of your website. If you are selecting TLD for your business, try to stick with the most common ones like .com or .net. Refrain from choosing some weird-sounding domain names as they are considered as warning signs or spam. Register with a trusted domain registrar after doing detailed research about the service provider.