When choosing a domain name for a website, many business owners start by checking to see if the .com with their business name in it is available. If it isn’t, the next step is deciding which other top-level domains (TLDs) might work for their web address (URL).
In addition to traditional TLDs like .com and .net, you have heaps of other options.
The terms TLD and domain extension are often used interchangeably. They refer to the letters on the right side of the dot in a web address. For example, common TLDs can include: .com, .au, .net, .org.
To decide which domain extension will be best for your business, it’s helpful to know the difference between traditional TLDs and newer domain extensions.
First things first
If you haven’t yet settled on a name for your business, review the do’s and don’ts of naming a business here. Then head over to GoDaddy’s free domain name generator to see if that business name is available as a second-level domain (SLD).
An SLD is typically the company or brand name that sits to the left of the dot, like “GoDaddy” in au.GoDaddy.com. It’s always best to have a few potential business name ideas on your list before you get serious about registering a domain name for your business.
The top 3 traditional TLDs to consider
The three TLDs below are some of the most common and traditional TLDs to choose from. Many people use these domain extensions because they are easily recognisable and offer a professional appearance to web users around the world.
This domain extension was originally designed to be a short form of the word “commercial.”
If this TLD is available for your business name, you should definitely snap it up before someone else does — especially since there are many benefits associated with it (we’ll discuss more on this later).
And if you get really lucky and find that both the .com and .com.au are available for your business name, register them both. This will keep them away from copycats who might try to register domains with your business name in them.
This TLD was originally intended for non-profit or charitable organisations and is still used by groups that serve a public good. If you run a for-profit business, this is probably not your best choice.
The .net domain extension was originally created for businesses and companies that were associated with networking and infrastructure technology. Like .com, it is now an extension option anyone can use.
If your business happens to be in the tech space, it could complement your brand name in a positive way.
Plan B: What to do if your .com isn’t available
If the domain extension you’d hoped for is not available, you still have lots of options.
Alternatively, you could consider searching your business name with a region-specific domain extension like:
Sometimes a newer, less common TLD can be an even better fit for your business than .com or .au. With hundreds of domain extensions available, it could be a good way to make your business website stand out from your competitors.
Here are some industry-specific TLDs you could also consider:
You can find a complete list of newer domain extensions here.
Pro tip: register more than one domain name
For a small annual outlay, registering multiple domains can protect your business from a potential competitor purchasing a similar one.
This is also a good tactic to protect against cybersquatters — people who register domain names to sell at an inflated price later on.
If you do register more than one domain name, it doesn’t mean you have to use them all. While you can have more than one pointing to the same website, you can leave other domain names “parked” so they don’t direct to any website location at all.
Why .com is the most popular domain extension
Ever wondered why the .com domain extension is the most recognised and widely used in the world? It’s been around for more than 30 years, for starters.
It is also considered advantageous by many SEO (search engine optimisation) experts who claim it can lead to better search rankings.
In terms of backlinking, .com can also carry more authority than a newer or less familiar domain extension.
Even though it’s a good idea to always check for .com availability first, bear in mind that it may be hard to find the .com with your business name in it. Because it’s been around for so long, many common domain names have already been registered with it. Of course, you can always approach the owner of the domain you want and ask to buy it from them.
Final thoughts on choosing the best TLD for you
If you have settled on your business name already or are set on the one you want to use, don’t feel totally dismayed if your first choice of TLD isn’t available.
With so many options to choose from, you can still find the perfect fit for your business with one of the newer domain extension options available. You never know, it might even be a better fit than one of your original choices!