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Choosing a Domain Name Extension
May 20, 2004
An important choice in choosing a domain name is making sure that you have the best domain name extension for your site. There are many different extensions and different rules for using them.
Start at the Beginning or Start at the End?
Should you begin by figuring out the name you want or the TLD you want? Some people advise that the TLD is so important that you should be prepared to alter the domain name proper in order to get a .com TLD. Others suggest that matching the domain to your brand is essential. So how can you move forward?
There are a couple of things to think about in deciding how to go about this decision. First, you can learn about the TLDs that are available to see if there is one that is particularly apt for your site. For example, there is a TLD .am, which might be perfect for a radio DJ, while if you are starting a website for a housing cooperative, the TLD .coop might be for you.
Do check, though, to see if others in your industry are business are using the TLD you've spotted. Broad use of the TLD increases the likelihood that your customers will know that businesses, products, or services like yours can be found with this extension.
Keep in mind that the world of domain names operates on a "first come, first serve" basis. Just because a name is perfect for you and is actually the name of your business doesn't mean that someone with an identical idea hasn't already registered the domain. If this is the case, you'll have to rethink whether you want to alter the domain name, the extension, or possibly both.
Another fact to consider is that most websites have .com as their extension, so customers are conditioned to make that their first choice. This doesn't mean that you should use .com no matter what: it's just another factor to keep in mind.
What TLDs Mean
TLDs were originally conceived as clear-cut categories, giving hints to users about the type of individual or organization using them. The indiscriminate use of .com and other TLDs scuttled this idea, but that doesn't mean it wouldn't be a good plan for you to give the idea some thought.
Basically, there are two types of TLDs: the gTLDs (generic top-level domains) and the ccTLDs (country code top-level domains). Some of each type are restricted, and others are more or completely open. Here's a list of the unsponsored, unrestricted gTLDs:
.info—intended for informational websites, but open
.name—restricted to individuals for registering their own personal name, their pseudonym, and/or the name of a fictional character for which they own rights. Acceptable forms include:
<emailaddress>.name, e.g., : email@example.com
.net—intended for technical network sites, but open
.org—intended for non-profit organizations, but open
You may also find restricted sites, either sponsored or unsponsored, that are suitable for your needs, for example:
.biz—restricted to businesses that are engaged in ecommerce
.coop—restricted to cooperatives
If you wish to consider using the ccTLD either of your country or residence or of the locations in which your business has (or will have) branches, you should know that some ccTLDs are stricter than others. The United States (.us), Germany (.de) and the United Kingdom (.uk) have a citizenship requirement, although some others are more open. Some ccTLDs, like .am and .fm, have been placed into use for people and businesses involved in radio, and have become something like gTLDs.
If your web or business plans include expanding to an international presence, you should keep that in mind when making your TLD choices. In this case, registering domain names with extensions from the countries where you intend to set up shop would be a good proactive move. In addition, you might want to register this article has all rights reserved and is copyright by 100 Best variations and typos of your domain name to protect your trademark, prevent others from purchasing them, and give an assist to your customers who make a little mistake in typing your URL.
Some unscrupulous folks have devised TLDs that do not have approval. For example, .family and .anything do not really exist. In addition, as of June, 2008, .xxx has not been approved. Registering an extension in any of these TLDs will not yield the results you hope for. Also, keep in mind that TLDs with extra criteria (such as citizenship) are likely to take longer to process, so you should allow extra time.
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Spelling Your Domain Name