- Jul 31, 2017
- by Brad Litwin
Simply put, Top-Level Domains (TLDs) refer to suffixes such as .com and .net. If you’ve ever registered a domain, you’ve also chosen a TLD for it. However, chances are you didn’t pay too much attention to all the lesser-known options available.
Most people like to stick to .com TLDs and the like, since they sound more professional. However, that doesn’t mean they’re the only viable options. In fact, there are literally hundreds of TLDs for you to pick from. Some of the lesser-known ones are great, depending on which type of site you’re working on.
In this article, we’ll talk more about what TLDs are. Then we’ll introduce you to a few of the more niche alternatives you can use. Let’s talk domains!
What Top-Level Domains Are
The term TLD refers to all of the suffixes that exist for domain names. These days, there are over 1,500 options, some of which aren’t available to the public. However, in most cases people like to stick with tried-and-true options such as .com. Let’s talk about why:
- Known TLDs seem more professional. People tend not to trust URLs that look sketchy. If you use a TLD that’s not well-known, it can affect how users perceive your site.
- They’re easily recognizable. Even if a lot of people don’t know how TLDs work, they’re familiar with the most popular options, which can make them look more trustworthy.
- Some TLDs are only available to certain kinds of websites. What’s more, you’ll also find country-specific TLDs, which are (in a lot of cases) only available for local registration.
The upsides of using a known TLD are plenty, but from a technical standpoint it doesn’t really matter which option you pick. As long as you renew your domain every so often, your website will be just as accessible whether you go with .com or .io, for example. You also have the option to choose premium domains.
Why You Should Choose a Less Popular Top-Level Domain
As we mentioned earlier, there’s no downside to using any TLD you want from a technical standpoint. What’s more, niche options often come with benefits of their own, such as:
- A wide range of options to choose from. With hundreds of TLDs available, chances are you can easily find an option that suits your site’s style.
- They’re often cheaper than more popular TLDs. If you’re not committed to using a popular TLD, you’ll find a lot of bargain prices (sometimes below $1 per year), which is great if you’re on a budget.
- You can always switch domains later on. Switching domains isn’t something a lot of people do, but the fact is, the option is there. If you’re not happy with your pick, you can always change it.
If you’re thinking about registering a new domain soon and you’ve never stopped to think about your options, it doesn’t hurt to take a minute to see what’s available. You could even save yourself a little money, and your site won’t be any worse off for it.
3 Interesting Top-Level Domain Options
So far, we’ve talked a lot of about why you should consider adopting a less-known TLD, but we haven’t introduced you to any viable alternatives. Let’s jump in and talk about a few premium options.
1. .io Domains
The .io TLD is one of our favorite examples of how these alternatives can break into the mainstream. This particular suffix was born in 1997 and assigned to the British Indian Ocean Territory (located in the Chagos Archipelago). At some point, the TLD started gaining popularity among tech companies and startups, to the point where it’s no longer an oddity to find .io URLs.
Technically, the TLD itself isn’t special but it is easy to remember, and it can make for some interesting URL combinations (such as codepen.io and laravel.io). What’s more, its popularity among tech companies means that if you want to use it for a website in that area, it can actually lend some credibility to your project.
The only downside to this option is that, owing to its recent popularity, .io domains are often more expensive to register than .com alternatives. They can be a steep investment for a personal site, but are frequently a bargain for tech companies. For example, here at A2 Hosting we offer .io domains for $49.95 per year.
2. .blog Domains
Blogging platforms such as WordPress are everywhere these days, and even top companies see the benefit of engaging with their users through regular posts. In short, blogging isn’t just a pastime anymore but also a valuable business strategy – which makes this TLD all the more attractive.
In this case, the suffix’s main selling point is the fact that visitors will instantly know what type of site they’re about to visit. It’s a short TLD that’s easy to remember and use for any blogging endeavors, instead of an awkward URL such as yourwebsite.com/blog.
Plus, this TLD has only been around since 2016, which means you’ll probably still be able to snatch some great URLs. Its popularity does means that .blog URLs come at a premium, so this domain may not be an ideal choice for personal blogs. However, if you’re part of a business that wants to increase engagement with its customers, this makes for a great option. Our own .blog domains go for $34.95 per year.
3. .shop Domains
As you can imagine, .shop TLDs make for a great choice when it comes to e-commerce. In fact, both Google and Amazon bid for operation rights for the .shop TLD in 2012. In the end, the registry rights went to the GMO Registry, which bid a staggering $41.5 million for the privilege.
These days, anyone can register a .shop domain, and even Amazon has set up its own. If you’re in e-commerce, the benefits for doing so are evident – it tells people what to expect, and it also sounds reputable.
Moreover, you don’t need to meet any specific criteria to apply for a .shop domain, and they’re competitively priced. Check out our .shop domains for an example, which you can purchase for $39.95 per year. Overall, if you’re running an online shop, choosing this TLD makes a lot of sense.
When it comes to domains, most people like to stick to the popular options such as .com and .net. If you fall into that category, you may have overlooked some interesting alternatives such as .io, which is highly popular among tech sites. Plus, these alternatives usually cost a little less than more well-known TLDs.
Let’s recap some of the most exciting TLD options available and what types of sites they’re good for:
- .io: Great for tech and startup websites.
- .blog: This TLD is an excellent option for company blogs.
- .shop: Its moderate price range makes it a good choice for e-commerce sites.
Image credit: Pixabay.