If you’re learning about web hosting and domains for your business, you’ve probably encountered the term “top level domain” or TLD during the process. You may have wondered what this is all about and what it means for your business’s needs.
Typically, you are going to already have top-level domain once you secure your webs hosting and purchase a domain, even if you aren’t familiar with what it is. Understanding more about the hierarchy of domains, the purpose of TLD’s, and the most common domain extensions will make everything a little clearer. Here is a look at the definition of top-level domain and what it means for you.
Understanding top-level domain
When it comes to your company’s web hosting and domain, you’ll run into the term top-level domain, or the final segment of the domain name itself. Just like the suffix of a word, a domain has a suffix which is exactly what the TLD is. The portion that follows the last dot in your URL is the top-level domain. It’s either going to be a generic top-level domain or a country-specific TLD.
What is the purpose of the TLD?
The top-level domain functions to be the thing that identifies website’s elements, like the business type, if it’s a government site, or the country of origin. You’ve likely seen it when you were visiting a school website or government site in which the ending is no longer “.com” and is now “.org” or “edu.” The TLD functions to help website visitors and business website owners to distinguish what type of website this is, and it has become more and more common.
While it used to be more challenging to meet the strict guidelines for the Internet Corporation of Assigned names and Numbers, ICANN has lessened the severity of their guidelines on generic TLDs and company trademarks as of 2010.
How do I choose my TLD?
When you are trying to choose a TLD, you’ll work with the Domain Name System or DNS to do so. This is the naming service for online services and computers that are using the internet. The DNS will make it easy to determine if your domain would be associated with a specific service, website, or your company, while translating your domain name into an accurate numerical IP address needed for efficient function of network protocols.
The various TLD options
While the most common extension after the “dot” is “com,” you’ll find a variety of extensions at your disposal. Your decision will be entirely based on your style of business or your personality. For some, this is a chance to have some fun, while for others; this is a chance to show your professionalism.
There are a variety of options that you may find align with your business and website needs, from the general options to more creative styles, and a few that would qualify for the “restricted” top-level domain.
If you just want something general, simple, and common, you may go with a general TLD option like “.com” or “net.” These won’t have your visitors guessing and you may find it’s easier for customers to locate your website. You can also find “.edu” works well for educational institutions, “.org” works well for non-profit organizations, and “.co” or “.biz” is commonly used by businesses. While these have more specific niches, “.net” works well for online companies or personal projects.
The “restricted” TLD’s include the post office’s “.post,” the sectors and resources of the government’s “.gov,” the military’s “.mil,” and the aerospace’s industry’s “.aero.” museums and related industries may also have the option to use “.museum.”
If you prefer something more creative, anyone can use TLD’s like “.guru” or “.expert” to show you are an authority in a subject. “.tv” is perfect for television shows or video projects while tech companies often use “io.” You can use “.me” for personal branding projects or “.name” for sites that are centered around an individual.
While you’ve likely encountered a TLD without realizing it, this is one of those areas that you should put some thought into. Your top-level domain will communicate something to the world about your business and you want to make sure you choose one that best aligns with your website and brand.