So you’ve decided to build a website. Maybe you have a company already or maybe you’re planning on selling your Grandmother’s top secret Macadamia nut cookies for a profit (hey, we’ve all thought about it). Either way, sooner rather than later you will be contemplating that age old question: What should I call my website? If you’re lucky your desired name will be available in multiple domain name extensions thereby allowing your pick of the litter so to speak. Two of the most common questions I get as a web developer are: “What is the Difference Between .ca and .com? Does it Even Matter?”.
A domain name is a unique way of letting the internet and internet users know where you are and how to find you (in the digital sense of course). Think of it like a phone number, but in a more reader friendly format. The domain name is made up of a top-level domain, a mid-level domain, and the machine name. The machine name is often the “www” placed before the unique mid-level domain (e.g. puppiesaregreat) while the top-level domain is the extension or end of the entire domain name (e.g. “.com”). All together the domain name would be: www.puppiesaregreat.com … which is available by the way.
Often times, once you have decided on a nice mid-level domain name you will perform a domain-name lookup and discover that your desired name is only available with certain extensions or top-level domains. It’s likely that you are aware of .com and .ca (if you’re north american), but perhaps you haven’t heard of some other popular extensions such as .biz or .org. On the other hand, I am sure that many of you have never heard of .rocks or .christmas domain extensions. So does it matter if you decide to park your brand new business’ website at www.puppiesaregreat.ninja? Let’s take a look at some of the conventional uses for domain extensions.
#1 – “.COM”
Hands down, .com is the most recognizable and used top-level domain extension on the internet. “Com” is actually short for commercial and is mainly used by businesses. Often it is good practice to see if this is available right off the bat as research has shown that potential customers or searchers will default to a .com extension when they are unsure of your actual domain name.
#2 – “.CA”
Theoretically speaking this can also refer to other country codes, but we will focus on the “.ca” extension for this article. “.CA” represents a Canadian top-level domain. Only those with a Canadian connection may register this type of extension. There are many benefits to locking up a .ca domain name including improvements in SEO or appealing to Canadian consumers. You should choose this extension if you have Canadian ties.
#3 – “.ORG”
You can probably guess what “org” is short for. .ORG domain extensions are typically reserved for non-profit organizations. Use this extension if you are an open-source project, small educational organizations, community organization, or if you just want to lock up as many extensions as you can.
#4 – “.EDU”
Unless you are a college or university, you will likely be steering clear of this one. It isn’t accessible to everyone, but certainly has it’s perks should you fit the criteria.
#5 – “.INFO”
Maybe all your site provides is information. Does your website refrain from selling goods or services, and instead provides just pure good, old-fashioned, brain food. If so, then .info domain extensions are something to consider.
#6 – “.BIZ”
Besides sounding like a 90s teen slang term, .biz has a genuine place among domain name extensions. It was initially implemented for companies to use should they not find their .com counterpart available for registration. Though anyone can technically register for this domain, be prepared to defend your identity as a commercial entity should you be challenged.
#7 – “.ME”
The .me extension is generally used for individuals running a personal blog website. Use it when you are an individual and have no commercial motives.
#8 – “.NET”
One of the original top-level domains created, .net was used for those with an “umbrella” website serving as access to other sites. These days Canadian small businesses will often default to a .net should a .com, .ca, or .biz not be available.
#9 – “.NINJA”
A relatively new top-level domain that typically appeals to those with a strong link to popular culture and a strong skill set or expertise.
#10 – Many Others!
There are many other top-level domains you can explore at your leisure (see below). As a general rule, it is good practice to lock up your country specific domain extension in addition to a .com IF you are a commercial entity as these are usually the ones that users will default towards should they be unsure of your actual domain name. Hope this helps your domain name dilemma!
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