.Com, .net, .org and beyond: the benefits and drawbacks of top-level domains (and what they say to your audience)

top-level domains explainedTop-level domains explained

Your website name has gotta end in something. Used to be you picked between .com, .net, and .org, but now there are more options than ever out there for your domain suffix, and even though the majority of them remain obscure, underused, or boutique-y,  there’s some major players you should familiarize yourself with and know the history of. Your top-level domain says a lot about you!

.com

Benefits: This is The King. People assume your web address is going to end in .com, so it’s the safe route to take for memorability and ease of use. Drunk fans might actually retain your URL with this one.

Drawbacks: They’re all taken. Well, not really, but it might feel like that when you’re on your 16th variation of a cool name for your band’s site.

What ending your site in “.com” says to your audience: Not much. You took the road most traveled and that’s nothing to be ashamed of.

.net

Benefits: It’ll be a tad bit easier to get a domain name you really want if you go this route. And .net is .com’s vice-president, so people are used to hearing about it but might find it a little weird and funny – just like Joe Biden. Drunk fans will keep this one with them approximately half the time.

What ending your site in “.net” says to your audience: You wanted the .com and couldn’t get it so you settled for second best. We understand.

.org

Benefits: It’s kind of fun to say “dot org.”

Drawbacks: This will always be branded as a suffix for non-profits to me. That’s what it started as, and I can’t let it go. There must be others out there like me and they will think you are doing everything for charity or some other noble cause and hey: if you recycle all those beer cans you’re draining while practicing in your buddy’s shed, maybe you are.

What ending your site in “.org” says to your audience: You maybe don’t really know how the internet works, or you just don’t care. But that’s rock and roll.

.anythingelse

Benefits: Now is a golden era for getting creative with top-level domains. Countries everywhere are registering their own, and though access to each isn’t guaranteed, with some brain power and possibly-sketchy registration, you can have the URL of the future.

Is your band named The Slaps? Hit up Palestine for a .ps domain and get thesla.ps.

Is your band named The Slapping? Head over to Nigeria and get theslappi.ng.

Is your band named The Slappily Happily? Talk to Libya about theslappilyhappi.ly.

Drawbacks: Good luck getting anyone to remember any of these. But who cares? Google knows everything.

What ending your site in a weird new suffix says to your audience: You’re more interested in creativity than memory retention, and you better get on board because the technological world is advancing rapidly and you don’t want to get left in the cyber-dust. And also that the .com and .net were taken.

Got any top-level domain knowledge you’re looking to drop? Drop it in the comments.

[Image of guy asking a question from Shutterstock.]

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