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Whether you’re starting a business and need a website or looking into a site migration — your decision between these 3 top-level domains (TLD) could potentially make or break your digital presence.
Set yourself up for success with an informed decision about your website’s domain extension!
In the US, the most common types of domain extensions are .com, .org, .net, .gov, and .edu. Unique domain extensions are available as well, though are much less often seen.
Most likely, you already associate .gov domains with the US government and .edu domains with educational institutions. But what about the other three?
Short for “organization”, .org domain extensions are predominantly used by nonprofits, religious organizations, community groups, and more.
In general, .org sites can be perceived as more reliable, as these sites typically don’t try to convince you to treat yourself to things you don’t need.
Short for “commerce” or “commercial”, .com domain extensions are typically used by for-profit businesses. In other words, these are the opposite of nonprofits and other .org sites.
That’s not to say that .org is exclusive to nonprofits. Let’s say you’re tempted to brand your ecommerce store with a .org domain extension because of the generally good reputation that .org sites have. You technically won’t be breaking any laws if you did!
That said, be careful! Choosing .org instead of .com could be intentionally misleading site visitors, who would likely assume that proceeds from sales are donated to some charitable mission. This could backfire and leave your customers with a bad impression of your business.
When in doubt, err on the side of caution and go with .com if you’re a for-profit business.
This one’s a little trickier than just for-profit vs non-profit. Let’s try these initial questions to get you thinking:
Many short or relevant .com names are already taken, so the cost of the name you want could be prohibitively high for a startup just trying to get off the ground. You can shop around on sites like GoDaddy and bluehost to see available domain name options and pricing.
In general, .com domains are the default online. Unless otherwise stated, your visitors will typically assume your site ends in .com and will head there. The best way to ensure your customers can find you is to use a .com domain extension.
If you choose a domain extension other than .com, it’s important to incorporate this into your branding across channels to help your customers find you.
For mobile users, it’s often easier to type in “.com” than “.net” or other domain extensions, because it’s a keyboard shortcut on most smartphones.
Think about your target audience and what device they most likely use to browse your site. Is it worth the investment to go with .com, even if it costs more?
The domain extension .net is short for network, though it’s often used interchangeably with .com now. It’s up to you and your business goals to make the decision!
Based on the budget, brand, and device considerations above, .net could be a better option for your new site than .com.
While SEOs like to focus on search performance implications of different domain extensions, it’s equally important to weigh other marketing considerations as well.
For example, when it comes to digital brand recognition: how memorable is your domain name? Seer analyzed real data to myth bust popular “best practices” for domain naming. Check out our findings on how to make it easier for potential customers to find you online!
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