A domain name is more than an address – it is the foundation of your website. It is one of the first and most important decisions that you will make. It represents your business, your brand, and your online identity.
So, make sure to make it recognizable, memorable, and a proud representation of you and your brand.
But, how do you choose the right domain name for your business?
What factors should be considered?
In this article, we talk about everything you need to know about domain names, including factors to consider in choosing a domain name in new (niche) TLD.
What is a Domain Name?
A domain name is how your website will be known online – it is the unique address of your site on the Internet and it will be yours as long as you continue paying the annual fee. Users who know your domain name (normally referred to as a URL), can simply type it into their browser’s address bar and be taken to your website. Others may be able to discover your site through search engines.
Domain Name Structure
The main parts of a domain are the prefix, subdomain, name, and extension. Here is an example of a domain name: http://www.sample.com.
- An internet application protocol of your domain. In the given example, the prefix is http.
- This is the third level domain of your website name. Some websites use www, while others do not. In the given example, the subdomain is www.
- This is the second level domain of the website – it is normally chosen by the person registering the domain. In the given example, the name is sample.
- Also known as the top-level domain (TLD), it is the suffix or extension that follows the domain name in a web address. The most common TLDs are .com, .org, .net, and more. In the given example, the extension is .com.
Top-Level Domains (TLDs)
Also known as domain extensions, top-level domains (TLDs) are the suffix or extension that follows the domain name in a web address. When choosing a domain name, one of your choices will be what TLD extension to use. Today, there are over 1,000 TLDs to choose from. Here is a quick breakdown of the most popular TLDs:
- Original Top-Level Domains. The original top-level domains include .com,.org, .int, .net, .edu, .gov, and .mil. Only some of them are available for general use and among all of these, .com is the most popularly used online.
- Country Code TopLevel Domains (ccTLDs). Some country code top-level domains include .uk (United Kingdom), .ph (Philippines), .au (Australia), .ca (Canada), and .jp (Japan) – just to name a few.
- Topic-Specific Generic Top-Level Domains. There are also some topic-specific generic top-level domains, though they are not that widely used yet. Some examples include .social, .agency, .accountants, and .photography – just to name a few.
Common and Niche TLDs (And When to Use Them)
There are over 1,000 top-level domains available, so we won’t be able to cover all of them here. But, let’s take a look at the most popular option, and when they are best used as an extension for your domain:
- .com: This is by far the most popular TLD. It was originally used for commercial sites, but is now used for all kinds of websites.
- .org: This is mostly used by organizations and non-profit companies. This TLD is not ideal if you are a business as it may send mixed messages.
- .edu: This domain isn’t typically available for public registration and is generally used by educational institutions.
- .tech: This domain is mostly used by tech companies.
- .design: This domain is mostly used by artists, interior decorators, graphic designers, and other design professionals.
- .luxury: High-end accessories, luxury cars, and fashion brands generally use this domain.
Some other new top-level domains that fit a niche market include:
These niche top-level domains are great for businesses looking to stand out in the crowded marketplace.
How to Choose the Right Top-Level Domain
Once you have chosen your preferred domain name, the next step would be to choose which top-level domain is right for your domain.
Note that while there can’t be identical domains, there can be two versions of the same domain but with different extensions. For instance, sample.com may be taken, but sample.biz may still be available. Because of this, many companies opt to purchase all the available TLDs of their domain – this way, they can prevent others from using their name with a different extension. And while purchasing other TLDs doesn’t necessarily help you gain more traffic, you can purchase some of the related extensions and redirect them to your main website.
Here are some factors to consider when choosing a top-level domain (TLD):
- Identify the purpose of your website.
Identifying the purpose of your website is perhaps the most important factor to consider when choosing a top-level domain. For instance, if you want to start a blog, you have to consider what your income method will be when things are up and running. If you are running an online business, then a .com or .biz could be an ideal TLD for you. If the blog you are running is for a specific organization, then using the .org extension may be a better option.
Ultimately, the TLD that you choose should be informed by the purpose of your website. This way, there will be a cohesiveness to your domain.
- Consider local top-level domains.
With the rise of local search engine optimization (SEO), you may want to consider targeting the specific geographical area that you are in. There are over 200 country code top-level domains (ccTLDs), so you should be able to find something that matches your precise location. Common ccTLDs include .ca (Canada), .ph (Philippines), and .jp (Japan) – just to name a few.
When choosing your domain extension, decide if you want to target your local area or if you are planning to go international. Country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) are a great choice if you need to market your business to a specific geographic region.
- Make it brandable.
In today’s highly competitive market, standing out from the competition is very important. So, when choosing a domain name – and a TLD – make sure that it is brandable. Make sure that it is memorable and recognizable. If you choose a generic domain name and extension, then people might find it difficult to remember. On the other hand, if you put it numbers or special characters, you risk overcomplicating it. Make it simple, succinct, and memorable.
Also, try to avoid strings of keywords in your domain. Using keywords is okay, but make sure that it gives a unique element to your domain and that it gives it a ‘brandable’ look and feel.
The Bottom Line
Choosing your domain name – as well as your TLD – is a big decision. Take time to consider it carefully. Don’t rush it and make sure that you are comfortable with your decision before finalizing your choice.
Remember, your domain name is more than an address – it is the foundation of your website. It represents your business, your brand, and your online identity. So, make sure to make it recognizable, memorable, and a proud representation of you and your brand!