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A domain extension is also known as a top-level domain (TLD). It's the last part of a domain name – in the domain name example.com, .com is the domain extension. In an already crowded marketplace, it can be a challenge to choose a memorable and unique domain name, and this includes picking the right domain extension. Choosing the right domain extension depends on a few things, such as where your business or blog is based, for example, or what kind of topics or industry your site deals with. Most domain registrars will offer various different types of domain extensions. Take a look at this quick outline of the various types to make sure you know which extension to pick.
Please note: certain domain extensions have eligibility requirements, meaning that not just anyone can register their site with that domain ending. In the U.S:, for example, .edu is restricted to institutionally accredited postsecondary educational institutions. Similarly, the extension .gov is restricted to government entities. For these reasons, IONOS does not offer these domain extensions.
ccTLDs are top-level domains that represent a nation. The "cc" stands for country code, and the extensions represent a website's geographical location. Some of these domain extensions are restricted, requiring a presence in that nation.
gTLD is short for generic top-level domain. They provide an alternative to the classic .com, .org, etc domain extensions that have been around for years, and are slowly being released over time. They include extensions such as .quebec and .tech which show visitors what the site will relate to before they've visited it, e.g. Quebec or technology.
nTLDs are the most recent addition to the collection of domain extensions – hence the name: new top-level domains. Each year, up to 1,000 new TLDs are released, and they can also be categorized as gTLDs, as they count as generic TLDs.
Numbers in a domain name?
Choosing the right domain name is essential for a successful online presence. Without a good domain name, you run the risk of being forgotten or lost amongst the masses of websites. If you're setting up a website to complete your social media profile, i.e. a personal website, then this will function differently than a blog or an online shop. It's important to know what the aim of your site is in order to pick the right name. There are two main things to watch out for – general tips, as well as tips for specific kinds of website. You can find these recommendations in the sections below.
Brand domain, or keyword domain?
It's good to decide early on if you want to have a brand domain, or a keyword domain. The benefit of a brand domain is that your domain will most likely be considered as trustworthy, and immediately shows visitors that it's linked to your business or personal blog. A keyword domain, on the other hand, has the advantage that it is better optimized for search engines, and therefore will get higher search results. In recent years, however, the drastic improvement in search results has begun to decrease.
You may also want to consider an EMD, an exact match domain. These are domains such as buycameralensesonline.com, which exactly matches what someone might search in Google, for example. However, these domains often seem like spam addresses, and so if you opt for one, be careful to make sure your site seems credible and professional.
One possibility to increase trustworthiness is to look into premium domains. These are already owned domains, and will cost more than a usual domain registration, because they are perceived to have a higher value. These domains can cost thousands, but it may be worth it because of the apparent authenticity.
The first step to a successful website
Finding the right domain name is the first step in building a website that people return to time and time again. Buying a good domain will inevitably boost your online presence, and therefore boost your success as a business or blog, for example. Although it may seem like an investment of time as well as finances to build up a good domain, it's worth the effort. Content management systems (CMSs) such as WordPress offer a good platform to build up a blog – IONOS offer a WordPress CMS package, which includes a free domain for the first few months to get you started. Another option to help you get you on your feet may be a website builder – this service is offered by IONOS.
- A website builder package is suitable for those who want a project with at least two subpages. Those who want to be able to control and adapt their website in a competitive field will find a website builder to be ideal.
- Classic domain extensions work well for this package, as well as country specific extensions to build up local relevance. nTLD domain names such as .design, .business, or the eye-catching .quebec are good. There's often confusion surrounding the nTLDs, and it's good to know that the TLDs that imply a geographical reference are classified as generic top level domains by Google. It may be worth registering more than one domain extension, especially the classic extensions such as .com, as many users will remember this one better than the nTLDs – if you own the .com version but prefer the nTLD, you can always set up domain forwarding to avoid competition from other websites.
Social media check
Check if your domain name is already being used for social media accounts – for consistency's sake, it's good to have the same name across the board.
Many online shops have the number 24 in them, to signify 24 hours a day – you may be able to integrate numbers into your domain in a meaningful way to make them unique. Be careful though, because many cultures attach a lot of significance to certain numbers. Make sure that your number doesn't represent bad luck or other negative things in the country you're operating in.
Underscores in a domain name?
These are often understood as being written words. If you want to separate your domain name to make it more readable, consider a hyphen instead, bearing in mind that these make the domain name more complicated and may make it less memorable. Underscores should never be used for directories, as well as for image files. Either omit them, or use a hyphen.
Keep it short and simple! This avoids misspellings, and makes your domain name easier to remember. Over 50% of searches are made through a smartphone, so a clumsy domain will make your website harder to find. Use a maximum of 10 characters, and avoid hyphens wherever possible.
Don't use the name of public figures in your domain name. To make sure you're not breaching copyright, or copying someone else's brand, you can check out the intellectual property office website.
Using a personal domain is a great way to build your professional, online presence. You can use this address to forward visitors to your Facebook or LinkedIn, and therefore redirect people to your professional pages. It also gives you the possibility to create a personalized email address.
Finally, a simple tip that is nevertheless useful: Can you read your domain out loud? If other people can't understand what is being said to them, sharing your domain with others will be difficult, minimizing your potential visitors.
Related Questions for this topic / FAQ
Subdomains play a part in the way that the internet is organized. They are part of the overall domain name of a website's address, and are hierarchical. For example, the name "order.1and1.com" has three parts, each separated by a period. The first part is ".com", the second is "example" and the third part is "order". The third part is a subdomain of the second part, and the second part is a subdomain of the first. It's a bit like a Matryoshka doll. For more on how domains are structured, see the topic "What should you know about domains?"
Subdomains are useful for dividing your website into different categories. Here is a quick overview of some of the possible categories and advantages:
Target geographical areas, or language groups.
For example, if your website is in English and Spanish, a subdomain may be used to indicate that this section of your website will be in Spanish, and not English – instead of just domainname.com, es.domainname.com is used.
If your website offers a variety of different services or products, you can create a subdomain for each one, for example: smartphone.domainname.com, or blog.domainname.com.
Having a separate subdomain for logins or account pages on your website is a useful way of organizing your site both for your clients, as well as for yourself.
By using a subdomain, you'll be able to track the success of your website more specifically, by being able to see which area exactly is doing well, and where there's room for improvement.
Importance for SEO
Subdomains are quite a useful tool for SEO, and although subdirectory and subdomain optimization is not as significant for successful SEO as it was a few years ago, it's still worth doing. For example, you can insert keywords into your subdomain URL where they don't make sense in your main one. Furthermore you can build up your website's authority in a smaller, niche market because subdomains are seen as their own entity. This will help boost the authority of your main domain too. It's helpful to have the option for several subdomains, because several subdomains also increase your chances of being visible in search engine results. IONOS offers 10,000 free subdomains with any domain name registration – a good number to get your website kicked off!
It's easy for you to move your domains to IONOS, and you can start enjoying the benefits of our affordable hosting services right away. It's clear that you won't want to lose your unique domain name, or the hard work you've already put into your website — that's why we make every domain name registration or transfer hassle free. Start by selecting a hosting package from our website that best matches your needs, then enter your existing domain name into the domain checker. At this point, you'll be informed that your domain already exists; simply select 'transfer' and then enter the authentication code you'll receive from your former provider.
Make sure you have created backups of all your site's files, plus any databases or email accounts with your former domain provider before you initiate the transfer. This data will not transfer automatically with the domain. You should also copy your previous DNS settings and subdomains with that domain. There's no rush- as an existing IONOS customer you can easily transfer your domain from another provider at any time.