It’s been 33 years since the first website address was registered, and over 20 years since the World Wide Web became a cornerstone of modern life. More than 1.3 billion domains have been registered to date, and the time-honored.com top level domain is particularly coveted. With 132 million active sites using this particular TLD, the likelihood of being able to register a company name with a .com suffix dwindles all the time.
Checks and balances
A domain registration check will identify whether your preferred domain is available to register. Despite sounding like a job for an IT technician, anyone can run a domain registration check through WestHost’s website. All you need to do is visit our homepage or the Domain Names section, and enter your chosen name into our Search bar. Click the blue lozenge, and we will run a domain registration check for the .com address. We’ll also scan dozens of other generic TLDs which have been gradually introduced since 2001 to relieve pressure on the overcrowded .com market.
These are some of the TLDs worth considering if .com isn’t available:
#1. .org. Back in the 1980s when .org was first created as a top level domain, it was intended for NGOs, not-for-profits and other organizations that couldn’t be classed as companies. Today, it’s unrestricted, so anyone can use it however they wish.
#2. net. Like .org, this 1980s’ creation was planned as a TLD for ISPs and infrastructure companies. However, that limited its appeal, and domain registry Verisign (responsible for all .net sites) doesn’t enforce any restrictions on .net domain owners.
#3. .biz. While .com is used by just about everyone (with American businesses preferring it to our .us country code TLD), .biz is specifically intended for commercial entities. It was launched to relieve pressure on .com across the business community.
#4. .site. An abbreviation of website (itself available as a gTLD), .site has remained fairly niche since its launch in 2015. It’s estimated that a new top level domain takes ten years to achieve mainstream acceptance, so .site’s best years may still be ahead.
#5. .store. Intended to differentiate online retailers, .store faces competition from .shop, .boutique and many industry-specific gTLDs. A domain registration check for a particular brand or business name will usually reveal an available .store domain.
#6. .online. This is a particularly generic TLD, and over 750,000 .online addresses have been registered in the three years following its launch. Its intention is to indicate a company is active online – something that should really go without saying!
#7. .co. Originally the country code TLD for Colombia, .co is increasingly being used by American businesses. It shouldn’t be confused with the identical second-level domain used to indicate a company in certain countries (e.g. co.uk).
#8. .us. America’s country code TLD hasn’t caught on compared to the dominance of ccTLDs in many European nations. Even so, .us is worth considering since it performs strongly in American search engine results, albeit poorly in foreign ones.
Of course, choosing a niche TLD for a new website isn’t always the perfect solution. People instinctively gravitate towards typing .com after a domain name – old habits die hard – which could see them ending up on a competitor site rather than your own. There’s a degree of consumer caution about visiting sites suffixed by unconventional TLDs in case they’re not authentic, while a ‘quirky’ TLD like .ooo might suggest your company isn’t entirely serious. Sometimes it’s best to choose a brand name based on available TLDs, rather than the other way around…