When it comes to Generic top-level domains, otherwise known as gTLDs, picking the right one for your domain of choice is one of the most important things you can do for your website. It will serve as the first thing people see when they look at your domain name, and can be a big deciding factor for a visitor to proceed or leave, and take their business elsewhere.
For this article, we’re going to focus on the major gTLDs used in the United States since there’s a vast number of these to use worldwide. Some examples of gTLDs include .com, .org, .net, .edu and .gov, so picking the right one for your needs is important to consider.
.com: The most popular of all the gTLDs to use, and one of the original TLDs. It’s usually the safest option to go with as it’s also unrestricted in its use. It’s mainly used for commercial and general purposes and is accepted everywhere around the world. This safe option comes at a price though, since most people want to take ownership of .com domains.
.org: Originally for organizations, this is generally used for non-profit entities such as schools, communities and open-source projects, but is unrestricted so it can be applied to any organization. Generally, all domain registrars accept .org gTLDs without issue.
.net: Typically used for network infrastructures and networking technology companies such as an internet service provider. It is usually treated as an alternative to .com domains since it is also unrestricted in its use and is easier to register.
.edu: Used for institutions of higher education and schools. These domains are restricted so you have to be verified and approved through the U.S Department of Education before they can be created. Domains that already had this TLD before criteria requirements were enforced, however, were grandfathered in by exception to avoid this restriction.
.gov: Used by governmental entities and agencies, and is restricted, and primarily used to distinguish local, state and federal government websites. Domains need to be verified and approved through at least a mayor or equivalent official, and submitted to the General Services Administration.
Where are you expecting your visitors to visit from? Will it be focused on people in the United States Region or are you expecting traffic from around the world? What kind of demographics are going to visit the website? Will you start with one country and then branch out? If so, which will be your primary gTLD and which ones will serve as country representatives? Also, a balance between originality and established nature of domains should be struck. These questions should be asked before deciding on a gTLD; picking the right one is important since pinpointing your market with your domain is the first step for having an efficient ecommerce business.