Selecting a great domain name is a crucial part of starting a website. In much the same way as a physical store sign, your choice of web address will greatly impact the attractiveness of your site to potential visitors. Therefore you should use a catchy, memorable name for your website or your brand name if you’re a company. However, beyond this, you still have an important decision to make in terms of a top-level domain (TLD) – .com, .org, or .net, for example – which also has a major impact on branding and search engine visibility. With that in mind, here’s a breakdown of different varieties of TLD and what they can bring to your web project.

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Generic top-level domains (gTLD)

This variety of TLD is perhaps the most common for websites of all kinds. Generic TLDs include .com, .org, .gov, and .net. Many of these domain endings can be used by anyone, although some such as .gov and .biz are restricted to specific industries and purposes respectively. The strongest advantage of selecting a gTLD for your domain name is that they are instantly recognizableto web users. As a result, web addresses ending in .com or .org, for example, tend to be highly memorable and often enjoy a respectable level of trust among users. What’s more, they have international appeal so it’s a good choice if you’re looking to reach a global audience.

Country code top-level domains (ccTLD)

As the name suggests, ccTLDs are country specific; for example, .in (India), .co.uk (United Kingdom), or .de (Germany). Unlike gTLDs, generally speaking either your website or business has to be based in the corresponding country, or you have to be a resident personally. Consequently, they are a more specialized option for those looking to cement their presence in a particular geographic region.

New top-level domains

Because both gTLDs and ccTLDs have been around for some time, domain name availability has decreased to the point where it’s possible your preferred name will already be registered. Fortunately, many new TLDs are now available for registration, allowing greater scope for creativity when naming your website. These nTLDs can serve multiple purposes, from geographic indicators (e.g. cities and regions) to specific topics, purposes, and industries. For example, if your site is focused on New York themes, .nyc is the ideal nTLD for you; or, if you’re a travel blogger, then .music would be a great choice. Because nTLDs are relatively new and cover a wide spectrum of usages, the cost of registration can vary more than generic TLDs. Therefore, it’s best to use a tool like this one when completing a domain name price comparison.

Bonus: premium domains

While not strictly speaking a form of TLD, premium domains are well worth drawing your attention to. These domain names are ones that have previously been registered but are being resold on the open market. Often, they are highly valuable due to their SEO potential, attractive name, and a variety of other reasons, hence ‘premium.’As mentioned previously, many popular domain names are already taken and therefore not available for registration; premium domains offer you the chance to secure one, but at significant cost. If you have the budget, this option can ensure you secure the best possible domain name.