Domain Extensions: What Is the Difference?

Bridget M Burns / July 9, 2019

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You’re familiar with website domain extensions like .com, .org, .net, and maybe even .yoga. How do you decide which one to use for your small business’s website domain?

You’ll need to choose a domain extension early in the process of creating your website. It’s crucial to pick a domain name that suits your business, but choosing the correct domain extension is also important. First things first: here’s what domain extensions are and how they differ.

What is a domain extension?

A domain extension is the series of letters following the dot at the end of your domain name. The two most common domain extensions are .com and .net. Traditionally, .com has been used for commercial business websites, while .net indicates a network, such as Microsoft.

The purpose of domain extensions is to help categorize websites. This applies to other popular extensions, such as .gov, which is used for government entities; .org, which used for nonprofit organizations; and .edu, which is used for educational institutions. Other, newer options include country-specific and industry-specific extensions.

Domain extensions are often referred to as top-level domains (TLDs). You may see the term TLDs in support documents and announcements from WordPress.com.

Domain extension options

When you build your website using WordPress.com, you can choose to register your domain with one of over 300 extension options, or TLDs. These include common extensions like .com, .biz, and .net. Your choices may also include less common, industry-specific options such as .events, .farm, .yoga, and .bar.

These more unusual extensions could be a good option for you if your domain name does not already indicate the type of business you operate. They are also a great option if the domain name you would like is not available with a .com extension.

When choosing a domain extension for your site, also consider price. While standard registration and renewal pricing for .art may cost as little as $15, an extension like .movie can run you $250 (pricing often varies depending on the specific domain name you’re registering). The .com extension often has the most clout. According to Forbes, the most valuable domain name for your business would be your exact business name as your domain name with a .com extension.

Domain extensions and SEO

Ultimately, the overall quality of your business website will have the largest effect on search engine rankings. That said, your domain extension could also have a small effect on SEO. Google Search reacts positively to repeat visits. If the domain name and extension you chose bring more website visitors, the positive effects can become exponential.

Notably, according to Google, no word appearing in your website extension will improve your website’s search results. For example, choosing .dance as your extension won’t automatically guarantee that your website appears in dance studio search results. That said, Google also maintains that a traditional extension doesn’t have any search advantage over a new (i.e., industry-specific) domain extension.

Consider all advantages and disadvantages when choosing your domain name and domain extension. This decision is one of many that can put your small-business website on course for success.

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