Site Extensions

 

As a follow up to our earlier Naming Your Website article, today we will hone in on the last part of web addresses. If you missed Part I, here’s are some tips:

  • Name your website after your firm
  • Keep the address simple
  • Don’t use numbers in your domain
  • Avoid plurals, hyphens and other easy to forget elements

Just as important as your website’s name is its top level domain (TLD). These extensions sit at the end of web addresses and are usually an afterthought. But, they deserve attention because your choice may affect the volume of traffic to your site.

There are a lot of choices when it comes to top level domains. As most of us know “.com” is the most widely used web extension. It was one of the original TLDs established by congress in 1985. Almost one-third of all live websites have “.com” TLDs. Other popular extensions include “.org”, “.net”, “.biz”, “.gov” and many others that are country-specific. For a more complete list of TLDs used in the US and around the world, check out this article.

Because of its wide use and established presence, most for profit businesses choose to use a “.com” extension whenever possible. That is also what we suggest. But, with over 100 million “.com” domains registered to date, it can be difficult to secure the “.com” web address of your choice.

The advantages of using a “.com” TLD are many. Browser algorithms work to the favor of “.com” domains over others. When someone types a naked domain like “paper store” in a browser’s address bar, the browser searches for a domain name “paperstore.com” before attempting “paperstore.net”, “paperstore.biz”, etc. Because of this, people looking for your website could be sent to another website, even that of a competitor, instead. Because of its pervasive use, even if people do not rely on their browser to act like a search engine, a lot simply assume a “.com” extension.

So what happens when the “.com” domain you want is not available? Should you accept another TLD or move on to a different name?

If you are outside of the US and cater to business in that specific country, try for the country’s extension. For example, a hair salon in the UK could use the domain “sallysalon.uk” if “sallysalon.com” is not available.

If you are in the US or cater to international clientele, then a geographically general TLD is preferable. Most marketing experts agree you still have other options if a “.com” extension is not available for the name you have chosen for your website. They say that picking the website name of your choice with a less popular TLD like “.net”, “.org” or “.biz” is preferable to choosing an obscure website name with “.com” as the extension. Remember that most traffic will probably come to your site via direct links or search engines, so not everyone who wants to visit your website will have to remember your web address anyway.

TLDs like “.net”, “.biz” and “.org” are gaining traction every day.  “.net” was created alongside “.com” in 1985. Due to its longstanding history “.net” has become a domain that people recognize and trust and is seen as second-best behind “.com”. “.biz” is a good third option. As the 10th most popular TLD with over 2 million registered domains, it is still known, but not as widely as its original cousins “.com” and “.net”. “.org” was originally intended for use by nonprofit organizations but is now open to others. Today it is commonly used by schools, open-source projects and communities as well as for-profit entities.

As you can see, there are a lot of choices when it comes to naming your website. No matter what you choose, remember to weigh all of your options carefully and choose wisely. After all, your company’s website is your window to the outside world and needs to last for years to come.

[Photo courtesy Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net]