Among the many decisions you will have to make when creating your business website, its domain is one of the most important and difficult ones. You can change your website’s layout, you can change and fine-tune the copy on your website, and you can even change the products you want to offer on it. But domains, even though you will be able to buy other ones, are much more concrete. They are linked to the essence of your website.
While you are trying to find the best, most brandable, and memorable domain name, you also need to think about the domain extension you will use for your website. There is plenty of room to make a mistake there, as well, and the go-to option might not always be the one you should choose. So let’s see if we can make things clearer for you and give you some useful advice for picking the right domain extension for your website.
What’s a Top-Level Domain?
Top-level domains are the letters behind the last dot in a website’s address. So, if your website’s address is www.myawesomebusinessidea.com, the “.com” part is the top level domain.
You can tell a couple of things about the website by its top-level domain. In some cases, you can tell the geographical location of the website or the business from the website. For example, if you would replace the “.com” with “.me” in your business’ address, you would actually be saying that your website is registered in Montenegro. “.me” is the Internet country code top-level domain for Montenegro, and most countries have their own top-level domains.
Top-level domains can also speak about the purpose of the website, or the entity to which the website belongs. “.gov” extension, you probably guessed, is used by government websites. “.edu” is used by websites that belong to educational institutions. These domains are called “sponsored,” because they are only available to specific types of organizations.
Some top-level domains tell very little about the website. “.com” is one of them — you can be any kind of entity, have any kind of website, and use it as an extension. Originally, “.com” was reserved for commercial entities. The same thing happened to “.org” and “.net”, domains that were used for organizations and networks, respectively, but are now completely unrestricted.
You can also pick between some novelty top-level domains. “.beer” is one of them, as is “.club”, “.careers”, or “.live”. If you choose one of these top-level domains, they will speak of your website exactly what they say. It is as simple as that.
How to Make the Choice
When you are choosing a top-level domain, you will have to consider a couple of things. First, you need to think about the type of entity you have. If your entity falls under one of the categories that have sponsored top-level domains, then you should strongly consider taking up that domain.
In most other cases, choosing the “.com” top-level domain would be the best course of action. Any other generic top-level domain is the second pick, usually. And when you’re buying a domain name, it would be a good idea to buy several different top-level domains and have them redirect to the main one. That is a sound strategy for avoiding people piggybacking on the success of your website.
Novelty top-level domains are fun but they are not as respectable as any of the other ones are. You can look at them as a sort of expendable top-level domains you would use for satellite websites or specific campaigns or products. Your best bet would be to keep your main business website a “.com” website, and then maybe develop separate pages for different products using appropriate novelty top-level domains.
Even though your website’s top-level domain is not completely set in stone, it’s also not something you want to change on a whim. Make sure that your first choice is something you would be able to live with for at least a couple of years. Or, if you are changing your whole domain name, then you can think about changing the top-level domain. So pick wisely.