What Do Different Domain Extensions Mean?

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This is the fourth blog post in an ongoing series called “The Stage Presence Marketing Online Guide to Digital Marketing for DIY Solopreneurs.”You can find the earlier posts at that link.

When you’re registering a new website domain, you’ll have to specify the extension you want. The most common for business use is, of course, .com – which stands for “commercial” use. But there are lots of others at your disposal.

The catch to URL registration is this: Folks often play around with registrar companies’ search functions for days before selecting the domain they really want. Doing so can be frustrating, because on occasion, you’ll discover the domain you loved, which was available yesterday, is no longer accessible.

So, before you register your URL, you should first select which domain extension you prefer, and then create a list of alternate URLs, including alternate domain extensions in case your first choice(s) are no longer available.

However, before you use those other domain extensions, you want to make sure you understand the extension’s purpose and that it fits nicely with your site’s purpose.

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of domain extensions and what they should be purposed for:

  • .biz is a good alternative to .com for a small-business-related site.
  • .net stands for “network.” If your site’s purpose is to provide some kind of web-based infrastructure (i.e., hosting, ISP, etc.), then you can use this one.
  • .org stands for “organization.” Reserve this one for non-profit groups, professional or other associations, and sites purposed for a non-commercial mission.
  • .info, of course, stands for “information.” Use this one for sites intended to serve as authoritative resources.
  • .mobi stands for “mobile.” Reserve this extension for site built for mobile device access and usage.
  • .us is the country-specific domain for United States websites. Because it’s relatively new, it has a larger inventory that’s still available for use.
  • .bz originally was intended for Belize websites. Now, however, given that it’s unrestricted, it’s beginning to be used by small businesses who couldn’t get their preferred domains using .com or .biz.
  • .tv (for “television,” of course) should be reserved for multimedia sites, particularly those oriented around entertainment or media subjects or niches.
  • .name, interestingly, remains the sole extension meant for personal sites.  It’s not generally a good idea to use this one for business sites.

There are also a whole host of country-specific domain extension — here’s a good list you can refer to. It’s generally not a good idea, in my opinion, to use these extensions unless you’re actually in those countries, even if the use of the extension is unrestricted.

In our next post, we’ll look at the technical aspects of selecting a good URL for your website.

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