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You have been working tirelessly to get your site up and running. You have a fantastic idea in a great niche and found good hosting.
You have generated advanced content, so your site will look full and you even learned the best time to post a blog. All that is left is to choose from the best domain extensions and pick your domain name so you can get started.
The issue is that you have very little technical knowledge. You’re a creative type, not a coder or designer. How are you supposed to know what a domain extension is…much less which ones are important? If only there was some way to get help!
You’re in luck. This guide is designed to teach you all about domain extensions. I will go over the basics and show you how each domain relates to search engine optimization (SEO) and marketing. This will help you figure out exactly how much money you need to spend buying up all the variants of your brand and where you can relax.
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What is a domain extension?
The simple answer is that it is the little bit that comes after the domain name. For example, in youtube.com, YouTube is the domain name and .com is their domain extension.
ICANN, or Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, is in charge of these extensions. They have recently added tons of niche extensions, like .blog, .design, and .coffee. But what is the difference, and why does this even matter?
Let’s look quickly at the different types of domain extensions, then I’ll explain why you should care.
The domain extension generally specifies a category for the domain name. Most of them end in .com, which is a top level domain (TLD) extension. This is the most common generic extension. The other top generic top level domains (gTLDs) include .org and .net.
There are also restricted domains. These require some verified information when you register. This includes .biz, .pro. and .name. Initially, these were thought to be a great option to prove validity and merit because of the additional information required, but in fact, the opposite has become true and the .biz extension is one of the least popular options for businesses.
Sponsored top level domains (sTLDs) are special domains that only certain people are allowed to use. These are intended for smaller audiences and require specific information to use. These are more credible than grTLDs because of the type of people using them. The most common forms of these extensions are .aero, .edu, and .gov.
Choosing the best domain extension for you
Now that you know what the different extensions are, let’s dive into why you need to care. When it comes to choosing a primary domain extension, there’s a lot to think about. It may not always be the best idea to go with the commonplace .com extension, or that may not be readily available in a crowded market.
When you choose a domain extension, be aware of your brand. You never want to choose an extension that is misleading, because it will confuse your traffic and may upset them and damage your reputation.
For example, people surfing along .info sites are not going to be expecting stores and marketplaces. They’re going to expect an informative site.
The .org extension is technically available to everyone, but it was traditionally reserved for nonprofits, so if you grab that extension in your set, make sure you are transparent about being a for-profit business.
Think about your target market. It is always a good idea to grab a .com if you can, because that is still the most common and well respected option available to use.
When considering additional extension purchases, think about who you are trying to reach and what might get their attention.
If your target market is regional, consider the country-specific ccTLDs as great options. This lets them know you’re local to them. However, if you want to be a global company, then these URLs will work against you as you expand.
If you go for the niche domains, make sure they fit your brand and aren’t difficult to remember. A lot of these are great options to establish yourself as an authority to a specific target audience. For example, use .fitness or .bikes to target those niche markets.
Just remember that if you are not an expert, and you go for a niche that doesn’t fit you, it will do you more harm than good. The traffic you generate will end up doubting your reputation and not trusting you as an expert in their field. And the people in the industry you are truly good at won’t know where to find you if you’re in a different domain!
Extensions tend to be priced based on popularity and availability. Premium URLs will cost a lot more. If you’re on a budget, consider dropping the .com if your brand requires a pricey one, and go for a more niche URL or a different gTLD.
Be careful choosing based on price alone though, because there are some very disreputable extensions that are cheap specifically because they are not trusted anywhere online. In fact, search engines will issue warnings based on some domains that let their users know that the site may not be safe to browse.
Best domain extensions for SEO
It can be difficult to know how many URLs to buy. Should you buy all of your domain extensions? This question doesn’t have an easy answer.
Obviously, owning all of the major extensions would be a great power move. Other competitors with similar names wouldn’t be able to buy them from under you and gain more power based off your reputation. You would establish yourself as the dominant player in the market.
That being said, the most common domain name extensions are also the most expensive. If you’re a small business who is just getting started, it may not be within your budget to afford the .com, never mind all of the extensions related to your site.
You should carefully consider how much you are willing to spend and pick one of the power domains plus maybe a few future growth domains. If you end up growing rapidly and expanding your budget, you can always snag the other power domains one at a time.
You should buy with the future in mind. As a start-up business or blogger, it can be difficult to predict where your success will lie, but a lot of niche extensions are relatively cheap and worth grabbing.
For example, a .tv extension might be a great buy for a social media maven who runs video tutorials through Instagram or writes a web series for YouTube.
Podcast extensions are almost always worth it in today’s market, because podcasts are a great marketing tool that can drive traffic to your site and get your voice into a rapidly expanding market.
Focus on owning the extensions that are most relevant to your brand. If you’re a business, then you won’t need to worry about owning any .gov or .edu extensions and may not want to pay out for a .org extension since they’re traditionally reserved for nonprofit organizations.
Grab the extensions that are relevant to you, beginning with the most popular extension you can afford and expanding from there. Right now, .com is still the most popular, and .co is quickly gaining on it as .com domains get snatched up and become unavailable.
Niche extensions like .jewelry, .company, and .shop are becoming more popular, so they may be a better purchase than .biz extensions.
Should you buy all of your domain name extensions?
There are plenty of reasons that owning several extensions is a good idea. Here are a few of them.
Protect your brand
The marketplace can be extremely vicious. People will regularly buy similar domain names, whether it’s a common type or a very similar extension, and use them to trick your potential customers into think they’re seeing your site when really they’re buying from a competitor.
Owning all of the common domain extensions for your brand prevents this dirty tactic from happening.
Obviously, you want to own the domain name your company brand is built on, but you may also want to consider advertising slogans and accessibility. If your company name is pretty long, then it may be advisable to buy a shorter option.
For example, instead of buying Polly’s Pecan Pies and Dinner Café, you may want to grab PollysPies and PollysCafe as separate URLs. It will be much easier for potential customers to remember when you refer them, and on your business card your email will also be much shorter as [email protected] than [email protected]
While there is no real benefit in terms of SEO to owning multiple domain names, here is a good benefit to owning multiples. You will be found easily. A lot of people will type .com by default when they are entering a website because it is so common, so owning that along with your vanity URL in a niche market is smart.
It’s also good to pick up some variants and common misspellings in case someone makes typos. Using URLs with and without words like ”the” or “and” will also help visibility.
Picking top domain extensions: our conclusion
now you know what domain extensions are and why they’re important to your business. And, as you can see, there are benefits and drawbacks to owning multiple domain extensions.
If you can pick up the .com extension, then focus on that one first. As you can afford them, grab some other extensions. The .co, .shop, and .net extensions are good options, and expanding into niche extensions like .tv, .jewelry, and .coffee will establish your expertise to browsers despite being more uncommon and longer to type.
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