Top-level domains (TLDs) are an important aspect of your website that is usually overlooked when building a new page. Also known as a domain name extension, the TLD is the part of the domain name that appears after the dot. There are domain name extensions that are generic (gTLD), unsponsored (uTLD), and even ones that feature country-specific codes (ccTLD).
Choosing the right domain name extension for your brand is important and should be well thought out. Although it might be attractive to use something out of the ordinary like .jewelry or .pizza, or even .bank, don’t give into that temptation without careful consideration. Here are a few factors to keep in mind.
Choosing the right domain name extension can make or break your brand.
With so many new domain extensions being released (i.e., .pro, .biz, .bank, etc.), it’s important to remember that a majority of the population is familiar with only the top five generic domain name extensions: .com, .net, .org, .edu, and .gov.
Now, some of these are restricted and can only be used by certain authorities or institutions. For example, .gov is reserved for US governments and agencies, .edu for higher education institutions, .mil for military websites, and .int for international organizations established by treaty.
When customers or prospects want to visit your website, it is common for them to assume it’s yourbrandname.com or organizationname.org and just type that into their internet browser. This makes it easier for users to find your website on search engines.
It’s all about authority.
Domain name extension and the age of your domain significantly impact your ranking on search engines. Although there are other factors, search engines actually give a higher rank to sites based on your domain TLD and the age of your registered domain name.
Migrating your domain correctly has a slight impact on search engine optimization (SEO) and domain authority on your site, and how you rank. But, if done incorrectly, your site can lose any and all domain authority and rankings. Regardless, switching your domain from a .com to a .biz or vice versa will have an impact on your organic rankings.
Your domain name extension helps establish trust.
Hackers and scam artists often set up fake versions of websites, especially those of financial institutions and healthcare practices. Their goal? To obtain their targets’ personal data such as bank information, medical records, social security number, etc.
It is well known that these hackers tend to use cheap versions of domain name extensions to create pseudo brand pages. Hackers often work to get their hands on the .com or .net domain name extension of your website to help make their fake website look more realistic since consumers typically trust and recognize the .com domain name and view it as safe.
But if you do decide to choose the .biz, .bank, or another domain name extension that’s different from the generic ones, make sure your site visitors are aware of the change—and that the .com or .net websites are not yours. Better yet, purchase the other domain name extensions of your website and redirect the pages to your main domain name version.
Uncommon TLD awareness costs money.
Since many of these domain name extensions are uncommon, you will have to invest money in educating your customers. Again, it’s not uncommon for users to assume that your web page exists on the .com domain name extension. Taking the time to educate and advertise the correct domain name extension to your targets costs money, takes time, and could possibly cause lots of confusion on where your genuine website exists. Is it worth the investment especially if you own the .com version of your brand name?
With all the above in mind, there is one reason that your brand should buy as many extension versions of your domain name as you can. (In fact, most major brands do.) It will make it more difficult for hackers and scam artists to set up a fraudulent version of your brand website.
Don’t rush it, though: A great domain name and extension can contribute to your brand’s success for years to come.