Below we dive into the purpose of top-level domains, the hierarchy of domain names, and go into a few of the most common top-level domain extensions.
What Is a Top Level Domain?
A top-level domain is the final segment of the domain name. They’re also known as domain suffixes. It’s the section that follows the final “dot” in your URL. Top-level domains are broken down into two different categories, country-specific top-level domains, and generic top-level domains.
Top-level domains help to identify certain website elements, such as, the type of business, the country of origin, whether it’s a government site, school website, and more. The guidelines for top-level domains used to be very strict, however, in 2010 The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) relaxed their guidelines when it comes to generic top-level domains and company trademarks.
The Domain Name System
The Domain Name System (DNS) is the naming system for online services, computers, or any resources that are connected to the Internet. It works to associate domain names to each company, website, or service. It also translates the domain name into the numerical IP address that’s needed for the network protocols to functional correctly.
Common Top Level Domain Extensions
There are a variety of extensions you’ll be able to choose from depending on your style of business or organization, while others can purely be for fun. It’s important to choose a domain extension that’s in alignment with your business. We highlight the most common below:
General Top Level Domains
- .com (used for a variety of purposes, but are mostly used for online businesses)
- .edu (commonly used for educational institutions)
- .net (used for a wide variety array of reasons, from online companies to personal projects)
- .org (commonly used for non-profit organizations)
- .co (used for companies)
- .biz (used for company names)
There are also more region specific domains, called Country-Code Top-Level Domains (ccTLD), such as, .co.uk (United Kingdom), .au (Australia), .de (Denmark), .fr (France), and more. For a full list take a look at this article from Wikipedia.
Creative Top Level Domains
- .tv (used for online television shows and other video-related projects)
- .me (used for personal branding related projects)
- .expert (used to convey your authority in a specific niche)
- .guru (same as above)
- .io (commonly used for technology-related companies)
- .name (used for sites catered around an individual)
Restricted Top Level Domains
- .post (used for the post office)
- .gov (used for different government sectors and resources)
- .mil (used for military related websites)
- .museum (used by museums and related industries)
- .aero (used by the aerospace industry)
The top-level domain that you choose will also communicate a lot about your business. By far the most common top level domain is .com, but you’re free to choose the extension that’s most in alignment with your website.
Any common top-level domains we missed? Share your favorites in the comments below.