Creating a website has become easy with a number of platforms and frameworks available for the purpose. Some of them are so user-friendly in nature that even people without in-depth technical knowledge can build a website with their help. Creating a website is just half the job done and a proper name along with domain extension must be chosen so that it can be found easily by a large number of internet users. For example, when a Vancouver-based university considers domain name registration in Vancouver, it will most probably try to get .edu extension which is earmarked for usage by such institutions.
An appropriate extension helps in establishing the identity of the website besides making it easy for people to remember the name of the interface. Let’s take a look at what a domain extension is and how the correct one can be chosen by a website owner.
What Is A Domain Extension?
A domain extension is the last part of a domain name. This part comes after the dot which follows the domain name. For example, in “www.xyz.com”, .com is the domain extension. The domain name and extensions can be obtained from website hosting service providers after payment of the requisite fees, provided the chosen terms are available and not owned by any other entity.
The process to ascertain the availability of a domain name is easy. People have to access the website of the hosting service which will have a feature for the purpose. Entering the name gives the available options along with various extensions.
The Internet Corporation For Assigned Names And Numbers (ICANN) is the agency responsible for introducing these extensions which are also called top-level domains (TLDs).
It is helped by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) in this. A TLD is found in the upper levels of the domain name system of the internet and is in great demand by users. In the beginning, TLDs were categorized into three groups, namely- countries, categories, and multi organizations. We will take an in-depth look at how the top level domains are being categorized nowadays in the next section.
How Are Domain Extensions Categorized?
Following are the major categories of top-level domains as specified by the IANA:
1. Generic Top Level Domains (gTLD)
The most common extensions which most users know about fall in the category of Generic Top Level Domains (gTLD). The first domains created during the early phases of the development of the domain name system are included in this group. Domains like .com, .org, .info and .net are a part of this category. In the past few years, many more domains focusing on specific industry verticals like .design, .blog, .coffee etc have also been made a part of the gTLD group.
2. Generic Restricted Top Level Domains
The domains listed under this category are similar to gTLDs but their usage is restricted. People intending to use them have to provide proof of eligibility at the time of registration. These domains like .biz, .name and .pro can only be assigned to users whose website represents their organization which is working in a specific area.
3. Sponsored Top Level Domains (sTLD)
A sponsored top-level domain (sTLD) is sponsored by an organization and are available only to entities operating in the domain served by that organization. These domains are meant for select users and there are restrictions in place for the eligibility for registration. Common examples of this type are .gov and .edu.
4. Country Code Top Level Domains (ccTLD)
As is evident from the name itself, these domains are meant for use by a particular country. All the ccTLDs are two letter long and each one of two letter TLD is a ccTLD. Examples of this category are .us for the United States of America and .uk for the United Kingdom.
How To Choose An Appropriate Extension?
We will now discuss the key considerations for choosing an appropriate domain extension.
1. Objective Of The Website
The most important factor which dictates the choice of the domain extension is the objective of creating the website. As mentioned earlier, a Canadian educational institution must opt for the .edu extension when going for domain name registration in Vancouver. Similarly, a business owner must choose .com which is what commercial organizations use.
2. Nature Of The Target Audience
The audience which the website intends to target is another important factor in selecting the domain extension. An entrepreneur hoping to attract customers in a particular geographical location can use the ccTLD for that region. It can cause problems, though if the business owner wants to expand operations to other countries in the future.
3. SEO Considerations Must Be Kept In Mind
Search engine optimization is an important aspect which must be kept in mind while selecting the extension. Most people will advise you to opt for .com as it is easily the most popular and recognizable domains. Try to find out whether the domain name and extension chosen by you are similar to a relevant keyword as it will help the interface rank better in search results.
4. Availability of A Domain Name
Availability of a preferred domain name is the most important factor and checking whether the chosen term is available or not is mandatory. Many people also opt for registering the same domain name with multiple extensions. This is a good tactic but they must also check with the service provider about the costs of registration as well as domain name recovery in case of expiry or hijacking.
It is easier for organizations like the Canadian university applying for domain name registration in Vancouver as they can straightaway opt for .edu domain. Business enterprises, on the other hand, have to make an informed choice as various factors as explained in this blog affect their decision.