What Is a Top Level Domain? (TLDs Explained + Popular Extensions)

What is a Top Level Domain

Looking for some information on a top level domain for your website?

There are hundreds of top level domain extensions available. That can make it hard to narrow down which one is right for you.

We’ve been there. We’re going to help you learn what a TLD is, why it’s important to your website, and some popular extensions to choose from.

Ready? Let’s talk TLDs!

What is a TLD, Anyway?

In order to learn what makes it a “top-level” domain, it’s helpful to understand your domain name.

A domain name is your website’s address on the internet. For example, ours is nameboy.com.

If you look at any domain name, you’ll see a series of words, letters, or numbers connected by dots. For example, our entire website is https://www.nameboy.com.

Each section between the dots is a different “level”.

There are three levels.  Interestingly, the top level is at the end of the domain.

The first section (“www” in our example) is the subdomain, the second level (“nameboy”) is your website name, and the last level (“com”) is the top level domain.

Here’s a quick breakdown:

Levels of Domains TLD

And, here’s where to find your TLD in the search bar:

Nameboy domain extension

If you want to learn more about domain names, check out our ultimate guide on what a domain name is in plain English.

So why would the domain extension matter? Let’s find out.

Why Does a Top Level Domain Matter?

TLDs matter because they can help you communicate information about your website through your domain name.

Let’s take a look at two big reasons choosing the right TLD matters.

Website Rankings

When it comes to website rankings, top level domains matter to users. The more trusted your domain extension is, the more people will visit your website.

For instance, do you feel more comfortable when you see a .com as opposed to a .biz? We would visit the .com first.

Having a trusted top level domain means more clicks and more visitors to your website. The more clicks you get in search results, the more likely Google and other search engines will reward you with higher rankings in search results.

For more help on this, check out some WordPress plugins to step up your SEO game.

Another reason the extension matters is for branding. Let’s chat about brand awareness.

Brand Awareness

When it comes to your branding, you should choose a domain name extension that fits your business and helps you build brand awareness.

In fact, your domain name is often one of the first places people see your brand.

Who do you want to reach with your brand? The answer will help you determine which TLD is best. For instance, if you’re an organization, you can choose an extension like .org.

Building your brand around your domain is a great way to make a connection to your website.

Now, let’s check out the 5 different TLDs and find out which is one is best for your brand.

What Are the Different Types of TLDs?

There are 5 main different types of TLDs to learn. They each have specific meanings for different websites.

Here are the 5 most common types of TLDs:

  1. Generic Top Level Domains (gTLD) are generally the most recognizable and popular TLDs. An example is a .com or a .net.
  2. Sponsored Top Level Domains (sTLD) are sponsored extensions by a specific business, organization or group. For example, .edu for education-related organizations.
  3. Country Code Top Level Domains (ccTLD) are extensions that represent specific countries or locations. For instance, an extension for the United Kingdom might be .uk.
  4. Infrastructure Top Level Domains (ARPA) is a special category containing only one TLD that stands for Address and Routing Parameter Area (ARPA). The .arpa domain is a temporary TLD to move it from ARPANET to the Domain Name System (DNS).
  5. Test Top Level Domains (tTLD) are reserved for documentation purposes and local testing to help reduce website errors.

The only ones you’d need to worry about are the first 3 because they are the only ones you can choose. We’ll take a look at the top 3 below.

Now that you know the different types, let’s take a look at the most popular domain extensions to see which one is best for you.

What are the Most Popular TLDs?

The most popular top level domain, by far, is .com.

Here’s a quick look at the top TLDs out there, according to Statista:

Most Popular TLDs Statista

As you can see, .com is the most popular of the millions of websites out there today.

But, there are hundreds of different website extensions still to choose from. Here’s a little more on the popular options for domain extensions:

.com (commercial)

This is the most popular extension. It was originally used for commercial sites, but it’s the most used across the web. The .com is recommended because it’s the most trusted by web users.

.net (network)

This is the second most popular TLD. It was originally intended for networking sites, but it’s used a lot more today.  For example, slideshare.net.

You can also find out the difference between .com and .net and what that means for your website.

.info (information)

The .info extension is mostly used for websites that are purely informational. If you’re just trying to get information out there, this may be the best extension for you.

.org (organizational) 

A .org website is best used for not-for-profit organizations or donation websites. For example, the non-profit wildlife rescue organization, Habitat for Humanity, is habitat.org.

These are just some of the most common options for extensions. Here is the complete list of TLDs.

But as we mentioned, we recommend the .com above all else, because it’s the most trusted across the internet.

That’s a lot of information! Are you ready to choose the best TLD for you?

What’s the Best Top Level Domain For You?

The best top level domain is the one that fits your website.

You’re now able to figure out which TLD matches your website and why it’s important based on what you’ve learned.

To see what TLDs are available, use our domain name generator!

Just type in a word or 2, and it’ll show you all the different TLDs available in the left column:

find available TLDs for a domain

And bonus! You can get a free domain name from Bluehost, whenever you’re ready to get your website started.

Just in case, here are more tips on choosing the right domain name extension and how to buy a domain name for cheap.

If you need us, we’re always ready to help with domains at Nameboy.

You got this!

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