All About Top Level Domains


By: Drew Germyn

Categories: Guides

Registering a domain name for your website is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. When you combine the right domain name with first class hosting, you’ll have a site that can serve as your home base online.

You might think that the name of your company or site is the most important part of the domain name. That’s the part that’s in the middle, as in the URL of our website:

What you may not have considered is the importance of the top level domain.

What is a Top Level Domain?

The top-level domain (TLD) name is the part of a URL that immediately follows the final dot. Some of the best-known examples are:

  • .com
  • .net
  • .co
  • .org
  • .gov
  • .edu

Sometimes, the top level domain name tells you something about the company that owns the website. For example, .org is generally used for non-profit organisations while .edu is used for educational institutions. Others are simply chosen because they’re available.

The Internet Corporation manages top-level domains for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) through the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA).

Types of Top Level Domains

There are various kinds of top-level domains available. They fall into six categories as follows:

  • ARPA is the infrastructure top-level domain. It’s used exclusively for technical infrastructure.
  • Generic top-level domains are generic domains with at least three characters, like .com and others we’ve listed above.
  • Restricted generic top-level domains are similar but managed under official ICANN registrars.
  • Sponsored top-level domains are sponsored by private organisations or agencies who mandate rules restricting the use of the domains in question.
  • Country code top-level domains are usually two character domains that indicate a specific country, like .us for the United States or .de for Germany. There are some international country code top-level domains that use other characters (Hebrew, Chinese, Cyrillic, Greek, etc.)
  • Test top-level domains are used only for testing and are not included in the root of a domain name.

Most of the top level domain names we see online fall into two categories: generic and country code.

Why is Choosing the Right Top Level Domain Important?

When you’re setting up a website, you must choose a first class hosting company with a superior network. In some cases, you’ll be able to register your domain name through the first class hosting company. That’s the case with Localnode.

The chances are good that when you get to the registration process, you’ll be presented with multiple top-level domains to choose. Does it really matter which one you select?

The short answer is yes. Choosing the right TLD can make a big difference in how your website is perceived and how easy it is to find. Let’s talk about how your TLD can impact your website.

  1. The first thing you should know is that Google does not treat any TLD with preference. In 2015, when new TLDs were added, Google published a guide to how it handles new top-level domains. You can read the whole thing here, but the key takeaway is that choosing a TLD that’s not as well known as .com or .net won’t negatively impact your SEO.
  2. While Google won’t treat your site any differently than it would if you had a .com domain name, there are some differences in public perception. If you choose something that’s new or not well known, you’ll need to be careful about specifying your full URL when you direct someone to your site.
  3. There’s a risk that people will assume that your name is a .com – and the risk of them making that mistake increases if there’s an existing site with your same name and the .com TLD.

The main thing to keep in mind is that if you choose a top level domain to go with your first class hosting and superior hardware, you’ll need to be careful to give out the entire URL  to avoid confusion.

Tips for Selecting a Top Level Domain for Your Website

So, which top-level domain should you choose? There are a few considerations to keep in mind after you’ve chosen a first class hosting company with superior software. Here are the most important things:

  • Availability with your root domain name. The root domain is the middle part of your URL. It’s common for people to start with .com since it’s the most widely used TLD. If that’s not available, they may need to consider other options.
  • Appropriateness for your website. Some domain names provide information about a website. For example, .gov indicates a government website and .mil indicates a military website. You should avoid choosing a top level domain that might mislead or confuse people.
  • As we’ve stated before, .com is the most common and most widely known TLD. Others, like .net and .info, are increasingly common and familiar. If you decide to go with a rare or new top level domain, you’ll need to follow the guidelines above to make sure people can find you online.

There are some real benefits to choosing a new or special top-level domain for your website. It can make your URL more memorable, particularly if you choose a TLD that’s closely related to your business. For example, Localnode provides registration with the .cleaning TLD. Any company in the cleaning industry might be interested in using it because of its relevance.

Ultimately, the top level domain you choose must work for your company and its goals. In some cases, you may decide to purchase multiple domain names and redirect them to your main URL.


When you choose a first class hosting company, make sure you’ll have plenty of choices when it comes to selecting the right top-level domain for your website. It’s a choice that can make an impact on your visibility and traffic.

To learn about Localnode’s domain name registration service, please click here now.