So, you’ve thought of the perfect name for your business, one that encapsulates everything your business is about in a catchy and memorable way.
But if you have any plans for your business to be on the internet, you have one more choice to make: your Top Level Domain.
What is a Top Level Domain Name?
A top-level domain name (TLD) refers to the last segment of a domain name, or the part that follows immediately after the “dot” symbol.
TLDs are mainly classified into two categories:
Up until recently, there were only roughly 10 different generic TLDs. That all changed in 2014, when the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the organization that coordinates domains and IP addresses for the internet, decided that business owners could apply for new custom TLDs. As a result, nearly 1000 TLDs are presently in use, and this number is only growing.
Which TLD should you choose?
Now that there are thousands of TLDs to choose from, how do you choose the right one for your business? Despite all these new additions, there is still only one TLD that stands head and shoulders above the rest:
The .com domain name
Why only .com? Why not any of the thousand other new TLDs? After all, these new TLDs look pretty good on paper. They are often significantly less expensive than .com domains, they have tons more unregistered domains available, and you can choose a TLD that is personalized to your industry (Comedy.tv).
It all comes down to people’s perception of domains. Many people don’t really understand domain names, but they know most websites start with www. and end with a .com.
The .com TLD has all the hallmarks of a great brand: trust, authority, and familiarity. It is in these vital areas where other TLDs tend to fall very short.
The .com TLD comes with a built-in trust factor. Dot-com domains make up 46.8% of all websites (the next most prevalent TLD is .net, with 5.4%). People are familiar with .com. Most of the brands and websites they already trust use the .com TLD. Therefore, it serves as a subtle indicator that everything is on the up and up.
New TLDs are in most cases unfamiliar to people. There is no built-in trust and seeing a TLD that they are not familiar with could set off red flags.
Test Yourself: Without any more information, which website would you be more inclined to enter your credit card information on? Trust.com or Trust.gle?
Dot-com domains are perceived as a status symbol because of their relative scarcity and high price tag. Having the .com version of a TLD gives people the impression that your business is established and legitimate.
Other TLDs, even older ones like .net and .biz, are often perceived as unprofessional and lacking in authority. Furthermore, using a newer TLD inevitably indicates to people that you’re a newer, less established business, regardless of how long you’ve been around.
.Dot-Com domains are easy to communicate. When people hear or see your business name without a TLD, they will inevitably assume it ends in .com, making it easy for them to find you online
Other TLD domains, as a result of people assuming the .com TLD, require businesses to consistently specify the TLD in every marketing message they create, including your logo. This can lead to your business name and your domain name essentially becoming one, which isn’t always desirable.
With a .com: “Envoto prides itself on impeccable service.”
“Envoto.hotel, prides itself on impeccable service.”
Exceptions to the rule
While .com is king, there are a select few instances where it is acceptable to use another TLD for your business name:
The TLD is well known within your specific industry.
A few TLDs have made a name for themselves within certain industries. For instance, .ly and .io are popular extensions within the tech sector. You will find though that those TLDs that have gained credibility, also have risen in price and are less available.
The TLD is well known within your Country.
Many Country Code Top Level Domains carry similar authority to .coms within the borders of their specific country.
However, if you plan to expand your business or customer base internationally, you’re going to need the .com. It could be potentially good to have ccTLD for countries you do a lot of business in, but unless you only do business in THAT country, and have no plans to expand, you should always have both the .com and the ccTLD.
Keep in mind though, that the longer you wait to buy the .com version, the steeper the price you will pay for the domain. For one, the value of .com domains increases over time, as fewer .coms become available. And two, if your business is successful, the domain owner will probably charge you a premium to obtain the domain.
We know it can be painful to spend so much on a domain when you have other expenses. But keep in mind that a good .com name is an asset, that actually appreciates over time. In the event your business isn’t a success, you can always resell the domain, often more than you bought it for.
You may make the argument that there are companies that have been successful completely unknown TLDs. There have been. Choosing a TLD other than .com won’t automatically doom your business. But at least for now, it certainly does your business any favors. So when in doubt, go with the .com.
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