Updated: Apr 21
A website address consists of two components. The first is the domain name, a unique element that links your URL to the brand name and goal. The second is the domain name extension, which reflects the type of website and the purpose. While many people think that understanding what a domain name is comes down to what is between the two dots in a URL, the few letters after the other dot play a much bigger role in determining the credibility of your site and how it matches. with your brand.
Also known as top-level domains (TLDs), domain extensions are used to categorize websites by type, location, or business model. Of the thousands of domain extensions available online, the most common are .org, .com, and .net. To choose which one is right for you, you must first learn what they stand for and understand their strengths, weaknesses and differences.
What does .com mean?
The .com domain is by far the most popular extension, and thus the one with the highest value for professional websites. Although originally created to host commercial websites, its use has now expanded to all types of websites, despite the long list of options developed for other purposes.
Ever since the term "dot-com" was used to describe the growth and subsequent collapse of online start-ups in the 1990s, this domain extension has become synonymous with the internet. As of today, 48% of global websites use a .com TLD, and consumers perceive it as the de facto standard extension for URLs. This means that not only is .com much easier for the audience to remember, but also that they can actually enter the wrong URL if you use another extension.
The sheer reputation of the .com TLD means that availability is quite limited and can significantly complicate the process of choosing a domain name. With this in mind, it is important to check the feasibility of the domain in the early stages of starting a business, and ideally take that into account when coming up with your business name.
That said, not using .com is far from the end of the world, and in some cases you may even want to actively opt for another domain extension.
What does .org mean?
The .org top-level domain stands for "organization" and is used primarily for non-profit websites such as charities, NGOs, open source projects and educational platforms. This extension was one of the original domains established in 1985, and is therefore perceived as stronger and more credible than newer alternatives.
This domain extension was originally created for organizations that did not match the intent of any other domains available at the time: non-commercial, non-networked, non-university, non-governmental and non-military. Over time, .org became exclusive to non-profit organizations, but this restriction was removed in August 2019 after the domain name register was sold to an investment company.
But while for-profit businesses are now legally allowed to buy and use .org domains, public opinion is still very much in their old ways. Any business that uses a .org domain is inherently perceived as a non-profit organization, and failure to clearly disclose the corporate for-profit nature can lead to serious setbacks.
.org vs .com differences
When comparing .org vs. com, you will notice that the difference between the two seems to be quite simple: one is for non-profit use, while the other is used by commercial organizations. To create an ideal website, use a .org domain. If your goal is to build an online business, go for .com instead.
But of course nothing is black and white. As the availability of .com domains is declining, companies are choosing alternative TLDs to use the intended domain names. With just around 10 million registered .org domains, accounting for less than 5% of the global total, .org has risen as one of the preferred alternatives to the .com extension.
Technically, any type of business or organization can use a .org domain as long as they support it with the right marketing strategy that will avoid potential misunderstandings among those who still link this domain extension to non-profit organizations. However, the notion that .org domains belong to charities, NGOs, and educational platforms is so ingrained in the collective mindset that you may want to keep this top-level domain as a last resort.
If you need a strong .com domain option for your business or web portfolio, you should take a look at .net instead.
What does .net mean?
The .net domain is the second most popular extension. It is often presented as the recommended alternative to .com when trying to purchase a domain name that is already in use. It is estimated that around 4% of all global registered domains use this extension. The .net domain name stands for "network" and was originally intended to be used by umbrella sites that act as a portal for smaller sites.
You should use a .net extension for companies that offer services such as internet, web hosting, databases or collaboration tools. Another reason to use .net is when .com is not available. In this case, you need to make sure that the business with the same domain name with a .com extension is not in the same industry, otherwise the audience may end up being their customers.
Whatever the reason for using a .net domain extension, make sure that potential visitors remember it and do not end up on the wrong page. An effective way to achieve this is by integrating the site's TLD into your branding, as your audience will end up naturally linking your business name with .net. For example, a marketing consulting firm called Upstream may refer to itself as Upstream.net to familiarize the public with their proper domain extension.
.net vs .com differences
The most obvious difference between a .net and a .com domain is their purpose, since they were created for "network" and "commercial" sites. If your goal is to provide Internet-based services or networking platforms, such as creating a forum, you should purchase a .net domain. On the other hand, if your goal is to make money online, whether it is with a personal blog or an e-commerce site, you will want to buy a .com domain name.
However, with almost half of all domain names registered with a .com extension, .net has risen as an option for inaccessible URLs. Over time, the semantic differences have become significantly diluted and the original purposes of these TLDs are no longer the main difference between the two. When it comes to comparing .net vs .com in 2022, the most important difference is the effect each of them has on mobile websites.
Although the choice of .net or .com extension does not affect the site's SEO features, mobile browser user interface design may adversely affect sites with a .net domain. Most smartphone keyboards have a button dedicated to domain extensions, but as you have probably noticed, the default option is always .com. As a result, it is more time-consuming and less user-friendly to search for .net domains. With mobile accounting for more than half of all web traffic, this small detail can have a significant impact on the success of your website.
To maximize your online presence, it is recommended that you purchase both .net and .com extensions. With a domain name cost that varies between $ 8- $ 20 per year, buying a second TLD will most likely result in a high return on investment, as it will allow you to ensure that visitors do not accidentally reach a competitor's site. All you have to do is redirect the extension to your primary domain name.
The three letters at the end of your URL are as important as anything that comes before them. Not only will they affect your chances of being found online, but they will also have a significant impact on your audience's perception of your brand.
With this in mind, the process of choosing between .com, .org or .net domain extensions should take place as soon as you start building your brand. Doing so will allow you to put together a cohesive online presence from the beginning, instead of trying to get the least bad result at the last minute.
Now that you know what each of these top-level main domains means and what they are commonly used for, you will be able to weigh the pros and cons of each option and make an educated decision that will allow you to get the most out of your URL.
Freddy Fix borrowed from Wix