Which domain extension should I use?

7 min read
Derek Miller

When looking for a domain name for your business, personal blog, or portfolio website, there are a few important things to consider.

First, target a domain that’s easy for users to digest and doesn’t have misspellings, numbers, or hyphens. Second, search for domain names that reflect your brand, whether that means including your name, slogan or keywords associated with your targeted niche.

Last but not least, think critically about what top-level domain (TLD), aka domain extension or domain ending, makes the most sense for your specific needs. With this one, it helps to know these five of the most popular domain names.

A domain extension is the combination of characters following the dot in a web address.

It’s used to designate the category or country code for a website. For instance, in GoDaddy.com .com is the domain extension.

What are some of the most popular domain endings in the UK?

Choosing a recognizable domain extension could help with your online business branding. Here are five of the most common domain extensions to consider if you’re based in the UK.

  1. .com
  2. .co.uk/.uk
  3. .net
  4. .org
  5. .co

Let’s explore these five popular domain extensions and why you should consider each one for your new domain. Note: There are plenty more domain extensions (gTLDs) available than this, so if money matters you may want to explore cheaper domain alternatives.

1. .com

.com is hands-down the most popular top-level domain (TLD). It was originally used to designate for-profit businesses, but has now become the mainstay of domain extensions. When deciding on a domain extension, you should consider strongly the .com version if it’s available, or even take advantage of a domain backorder request and get notified when the domain you want expires so you can grab it.

The .com TLD is easy for users to digest because it is familiar.

Humans are creatures of habit. Many visitors have spent the past decade or more plugging in websites with .com extensions into their browsers. Thus, they are accustomed to this extension and almost expect it when hearing new domain names.

So, it can make sense to buy the .com version of any domain you own for pure brand recognition and to make sure people don’t end up going to the wrong web address by mistake.

The pros to picking .com are apparent, but there are also some cons. The main reason you wouldn’t pick .com for your new website is you may not be able to get the address you want. When the internet and web development first took off, many entrepreneurs purchased domain names to flip them for more money. If your .com is not being used, you might have to pay a premium to purchase it from the current owner.

If you have the opportunity to get a .com, you should strongly consider buying it. In case the desired .com domain is already taken, you can use a domain lookup tool to find who owns it. This will allow you to contact the owners and inquire about purchasing the domain. However, if you can’t find a good .com, or don’t want to invest a lot of money to purchase the rights, you can take a look at other options

2. .co.uk/.uk

If you’re a UK-based business, then a .co.uk/.uk domain extension should also be on your shortlist.

The fact they’re location-specific domain endings means that they’re a great way to show customers that you’re based in the UK. (And for businesses based in Wales and Scotland there are the .wales/.cymru and .scot extensions.)

Of course, if you’re looking to attract customers from across the globe a location-specific domain name may not be the right choice.

But don’t forget, you can always purchase your domain on more than one extension and use them to target your website to the relevant audience.

3. .net

Much like the .com extension, .net extensions are open to anyone. What was originally intended for internet service providers or networks has now become a great alternative to .com. The .net might be a nice option for tech- or application-based companies because it implies network and technology.

If your business operates in those industries, .net makes perfect sense and can help validate and communicate your services. In addition, .net is in less demand than .com, meaning there is a greater likelihood that your desired domain is available.

Because many people associate .net with technology, businesses that operate outside the tech space or web-service industry could disconnect with visitors’ expectations. For example, if you operate a baking business and wanted a .net domain, you might think Cookies.net would be perfect. However, users might think your business provides a service for web cookies rather than edible baked goods. This disconnect could keep people from coming to your site and confuse those who do land on your domain.

One brand using .net effectively is SourceForge.net. They are a web-based service that provides an online community for people who need help with open-source web projects. It’s a collaborative community focused on networking and technology-based business. SourceForge understands how their .net extension positions their brand, and they used it to their advantage to grow their credibility and community within the IT space.

4. .org

The .org extension is also open to any person or entity, even though it was originally designed to represent not-for-profit organizations. It’s a popular option for many non-governmental organizations, non-profits, politicians and political parties, and online communities.

.org is less popular than .com, which means you have a good chance to acquire your perfect domain. These are just two of the reasons .org domains are some of the most popular on the web.

However, .org might make sense if you operate a not-for-profit or information-driven business, but it doesn’t make sense for everyone. For instance, many people associate .org with communities and knowledge bases, so if you operate an eCommerce store and simply try to convert all your traffic into sales, .org wouldn’t be the best choice.

The websites that do the best using .org focus on building and cultivating communities. For instance, WikipediaCraigslist and WordPress are all brands that use .org. They all provide different services, but rely on their communities to grow their brands and share knowledge and information.

5. .co

The .co extension is an interesting option if you’re looking for something a bit different. It was originally designated the country code domain ending for Colombia, but has become a popular option for global domains. The .co TLD is a familiar acronym for company, corporations or commercial ventures. This familiarity has led many forward-thinking businesses to build their brands on a .co.

Creating a website with .co makes sense if you are a business, particularly if you’re a young startup that markets itself as original or unique.

You might also consider registering a .co extension because of its domain availability. As mentioned previously, premium .com domains are rarely available. And if they are, you’ll have to pay more than you might like. However, .co domains are less sought after, which gives you more flexibility and options.

Other domain extension options

The domain extensions above are a great place to start, but they aren’t your only options. In fact, there are more than 1,500 different TLDs available in addition to the five most common domain extensions above. Below are some other popular options:

  • .appGreat for tech businesses
  • .shopOffers an obvious ecommerce connection
  • .infoAn open extension that is short for information
  • .xyzAn open extension available for general use
  • .bizA straightforward extension aimed at businesses of all kinds

There are a lot of considerations that go into picking out the perfect domain name. In addition to finding a name that reflects your personal or brand identity — and is easy to remember and type — you must also make sure the domain extension matches your needs. You can learn more about choosing a domain name in this guide.

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