Domain name extensions (TLDs) are the suffixes that follow domain names in web addresses. The most common is “.com”. Learn everything you need to know about them in this article, from what they are to how to choose one. 

You’ve probably thought about the perfect domain name for your website a lot. After all, this is how people will find you online, but have you also considered your domain name extensions?

Wait, what? Surely I just stick .com at the end, right?

Well, not necessarily. There are currently over 1,400 domain name extensions to choose from. These range from the familiar (like .com and .net) to the obscure (you could have .beer and .pizza). Some extensions have strict requirements about who can use them, but most are open to anyone. 

So, which one should I choose? 

That’s what this article will help you decide. We’ll look at what domain name extensions are, why they matter, and how to pick the right one for you. 

What Are Domain Name Extensions? Why Do They Exist, Anyway?

We’re going to start with the basics. Let’s use our URL as an example: The domain name extension is “.com”. If our URL were, then the extension would be “.net”. 

When you register a domain name with a company like ours, you can also choose your extension. Traditionally, you’d pick something that reflected the type of website you were. For eCommerce sites, that meant .com (commercial). Now, though, all sorts of websites use .com, and there are many different types of domains. 

Some extensions are selective about who can use them, like .gov or Others were intended for one purpose but got co-opted for others, like the .ai, .io, and .fm extensions.

It’s also worth mentioning that not all the available domain name extensions are in English. For example:

  • .セール (Japanese for “.sale”)
  • .网络 (Chinese for “.network”)
  • .ভাৰত (Assamese for “.india”)
  • .укр (Ukrainian for “.ukraine”)

Think of domain name extensions like internet tags. They’re like little clues about what a website is all about. These extensions give a quick hint about the website’s purpose, kind of like a digital address label that helps organise the online neighbourhood.

Who’s in charge of domain name extensions?

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). They oversee the allocation and management of all domain name extensions, among other things. 

Formed in 1998, ICANN is a global not-for-profit partnership. They help coordinate the functions of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). These functions include managing the operators of domain name extensions. 

Who are the operators? ICANN-designated registries. These are often the companies that first registered various extensions. For example, Samsung operates the registry for .samsung. Each domain extension has its own registry, which records all the domains that use it. 

If you want to register new domain name extensions, you must apply to ICANN. If you’re successful, you’ll usually sign a contract with them to act as the registry for that extension.

ICANN also has an accreditation process for registrars like OnlyDomains. This means we can register your domain name for you. 

Got It. So, What Are Top-Level Domains (TLDs)?

Top-level domains (TLDs) are simply another name for domain extensions. They’re top-level because they sit at the very top of the domain classification hierarchy. (If you’re asking yourself, “What is a domain?”, check out our article all about it.)

The next rung down is your domain name, which tells people who the website belongs to. If we go back to the example of our URL (, then “onlydomains” is our domain name. 

At the bottom of the pile are subdomains. These organise your website into different sections. For instance, in, “blog” is the subdomain. 

And What’s a gTLD?

A gTLD is a generic top-level domain. As you can see from the IANA Root Zone Database, most of the domain name extensions available are generic. 

Since 2011, anyone can register a gTLD, and anyone can buy one. Some are even free. This makes them a popular choice for business websites. Many companies now have branded gTLDs, such as:

  • .airbus
  • .bbc
  • .epson
  • .xbox

Other gTLDs might describe what your business does. For example:

  • .accountant
  • .band
  • .toys
  • .monster (Okay, maybe not this one. There are some pretty random gTLDs too!)

There are also location gTLDs that aren’t country codes, so they’re not subject to the same restrictions. Many of these are cities, like:

  • .capetown
  • .melbourne
  • .istanbul
  • .london

If you want to reach a local market, this type of gTLD is ideal. Knock yourself out.

Domain Name Extensions List (and What They Mean)

Let’s be honest, we can’t give you a complete list of domain name extensions here, because there are over a thousand of them and you’d be here all day. What we can do is provide some examples from each of the three TLD categories:

  • Generic TLDs 
  • Country-code TLDs
  • Sponsored TLDs

Of course, if instead of watching paint dry you have a burning desire to see all the domain name extensions that are out there, you can check out this list on ICANN.

Generic TLDs

So, that’s the deal with generic TLDs. Here are some examples and what they mean:

gTLD Meaning/relevant industry
.app Mobile application, web application, etc.
.care Care industry
.estate Real estate industry
.glass Glazier, glass repair, etc.
.info Information 
.kids Childcare provider, children’s retailer, etc.
.media Media industry
.ooo Out of the ordinary 
.qpon Coupon, discount, etc.
.sony Sony Corporation
.university  University institution 
.wedding Wedding industry
.yoga Yoga teacher, yoga classes, etc.

Country-code TLDs

These are meant for, you guessed it, countries, as well as territories and sovereign states. Country-code TLDs (ccTLDs) are two letters long and based on the country’s native name. That’s why Germany is .de (Deutschland). 

To apply for a ccTLD, you usually need to live or own a business in that country. Some, though, are now used for other purposes. For instance, many tech companies use .ai even though it was originally the code for Anguilla.

Here are some examples of ccTLDs:

ccTLD Country
.bj  Benin
.de Germany
.fr France 
.hk Hong Kong 
.jm Jamaica 
.lt Lithuania 
.ng Nigeria
.pe Peru
.rs Serbia
.tt Trinidad and Tobago
.va Vatican City
.ye Yemen
.za South Africa 

Sponsored TLDs

Sponsored TLDs (sTLDs) are sponsored by an organisation. They usually represent a specific community, service, or industry, and to use one, you have to meet certain strict requirements.

There are currently only 14 sTLDs available, so we’ve included them all below.  

sTLD Meaning/relevant industry
.aero Aerospace industry
.asia Pan-Asia and Asia Pacific
.cat Catalan Linguistic and Cultural Community
.coop Cooperative organisation 
.edu Post-secondary education institution (United States)
.gov Government organisation 
.int International organisation 
.jobs Employment industry 
.mil Military organisation (United States)
.museum  Museum, museum professional, etc.
.post Postal service 
.tel Internet communications industry
.travel Travel industry
.xxx Adult entertainment industry 

What Are the Five Most Common Domain Extensions? Check Out These Examples

Some domain name extensions are more widespread than others. If you want to reach people, the following examples are a pretty safe bet, especially our first candidate.

The most popular domain name extension: The king of the castle

Despite a slight decline in popularity, the undisputed star of the show in 2023 is still .com, which is used by nearly 50% of websites. It stands for “commercial”, but nowadays it’s the default domain extension, and people trust it. So, if you’re building a website, you can’t go far wrong using it. 

The downside? With so many sites choosing it, chances are your preferred domain name is already taken. 

The next five most common domain name extension options worldwide

If you miss out on your ideal .com domain name, it’s not the end of the world. There are other popular options to choose from, including these five: 

  • .net. Meaning “network”, this TLD has been around for a long time. That means people are familiar with it, hence why it’s become a popular alternative to .com. 
  • .org. See a website ending in .org, and you immediately think of a charity or other non-profit. If that’s the purpose of your website, it’s a smart choice. In fact, it’s what people expect. Otherwise, you’re better off picking something else.
  • .co. This TLD started life as the country code for Columbia. Now, though, it’s recognised as a global domain extension. It can also be paired with other country codes (think or 
  • .xyz. Registered in 2014, this extension is becoming increasingly popular due to its simplicity and versatility. And you’re not likely to forget it. 
  • .uk, .us, .au, etc. A country code is a great way to target audiences in a specific country. They tell people what website language to expect and if the content will be relevant to them. 

What Are the Best Domain Name Extensions (i.e. the Ones That Help with Business Branding)?

So, why does it matter which domain name extension you use? Well, believe it or not, it can influence whether customers visit your website. 

Here’s how.

Unique domain extensions help you stand out from the crowd

.com extensions are super popular. They’re what most people expect a business to have. On the other hand, they make it harder to stand out.  

Imagine you’re a hairdresser with the brand name Cathy’s Hair. You could go with, or you could choose 

The second option is short, snappy, and easier to remember. If you want to stand out from the generic .com websites of your competitors, it can be a good idea to choose something more unique.

Connect with your local customers with geographic domain extensions 

Geographic extensions, whether country codes or location gTLDs, are a great way to reach local customers. For example, if you’re based in the UK, what better way to advertise this than with the .uk extension? 

But what if I operate in more than one country? 

No problem. You can register for multiple domains. This is a great way to localise your website for different markets and better appeal to your customers. 

Use domain name extensions for great marketing and engaging with your clients

The right TLD can also help you attract and engage your target audience. For example, imagine you’re a travel agency specialising in budget holidays. You could use and hope people realise what you offer. 

Alternatively, you could use a descriptive domain name like 

If you’re looking for a cheap holiday, which one are you most likely to click on? We’re guessing it’s not the .com one.

Industry-specific domain extensions let customers quickly see what your business is all about

If you don’t want to use .com or your preferred domain name is taken, you could choose an industry-specific extension instead. For instance, if you’re an accountant, you could use the .accountant TLD. If you’re a dog groomer, you could use .dog. 

With an industry-specific extension, your customers can see exactly what you do before they even click on your website. Just make sure you pick something relevant.

Restricted vs Unrestricted Domain Name Extensions: What’s the Difference?

We’ve touched on this already, but essentially, domain name extensions fall into two categories:

  • Restricted. These extensions have restrictions on who can use them. For example, only government organisations can have .gov extensions. To use a restricted TLD, you must contact the extension’s registrar and go through their vetting process. Sponsored TLDs have the strictest requirements, followed by country-code TLDs. 
  • Unrestricted. On the other hand, anyone can use these extensions. Most gTLDs fall into this category, although a few do have restrictions. For instance, only professionals can use .pro, while .name can only be used by individuals. 

Which Domain Name Extensions Should I Use? Don’t Feel Lost!

Understanding domain name extensions is all very well, but which extension (or extensions) should you use? 

The following questions can help you answer this:

Is it relevant?

If you sell baby clothes, makes sense. If you’re a tech company? Not so much. 

If you want a unique extension, that’s great, but it needs to be relevant to your business. Otherwise, you’ll find it difficult to attract your target audience and confuse the lucky people who visit your website. 

Is it memorable?

The shorter your domain name, the easier it will be to remember, whichever type of extension you use. 

For example, consider these URLs:


They’re both .com, but the second one is shorter. That’s the one your customers are more likely to remember.

Does it sound legit?

Unfortunately, we live in a world of all sorts and certain TLDs have become popular with scammers. Extensions like .top, .best, and .live have high levels of phishing activity, so legitimate sites should avoid them. People also tend to be wary of less familiar extensions. 

Sometimes, boring is better.

And finally…

Our final piece of advice? If in doubt, choose .com. 

At the end of the day, people know and trust .com extensions. So, if your ideal .com domain name is available, go for it and maybe save yourself some stress. 

How to Register Domain Name Extensions Easily

When you register your domain name with a registrar like OnlyDomains, you can also choose your extension. We don’t offer every TLD under the sun, but we do offer the most common ones. (Over 900 of them, in fact!)

Here’s how to register your domain name and extension with OnlyDomains:

  1. Search for the domain you want.
  2. Add it to your basket.
  3. Follow the checkout flow.

Bear in mind that the extension you pick influences the domain name price. We may also have to contact you for more information about some extensions. 

Make Choosing Domain Name Extensions a Piece of Cake with OnlyDomains. It’s What We Do

Domain extensions are often overlooked, but they’re just as important as your domain name. Here at OnlyDomains, we get that. And, with over 900 extensions available, we’re confident we’ll have the right TLD for you. 

If not, tell us! We’re always looking for more ways to help our customers get online. Speaking of which…

Nowadays, we offer a lot more than domain names and extensions. We also offer services like:

  • DNS management 
  • URL forwarding 
  • WordPress hosting
  • A website builder
  • Email hosting 
  • 24/5 support

If that sounds good, why not buy a new domain name or transfer your existing one to OnlyDomains? It’s what we do best.

FAQs About Domain Name Extensions

What should I do if the domain extension I want doesn’t exist yet?

If you can’t find your preferred extension, go to the IANA Root Zone Database and search for it there. If it’s there, click on it to find out who owns it and where to register it. 

If it’s not on the list, it means it doesn’t exist yet. In this case, you can either pick a different extension or register it yourself.

Can I invent my own domain name extensions?

Feeling creative? Well then, yes, you can. But you’ll have to apply to register it, and that can be a pain. 

First of all, you can’t apply whenever you feel like it. You have to wait for ICANN to open a new application round, and they currently estimate that that won’t be until 2026. 

Assuming you can wait that long, you’ll then have to pay a substantial application fee, and your extension will have to meet ICANN’s requirements. Plus, you’ll have to pay a yearly fee to operate the extension and act as a registry for anyone else who wants to use it. 

In other words, it’s best to leave the hassle to someone else and pick an existing extension instead.

Can domain name extensions be changed?

Yes. Here’s how:

  1. Register a new domain name with your preferred extension.
  2. Create a copy of your website with the new extension.
  3. Set up 301 redirects to send the traffic from the pages on your current site to the corresponding pages on your new one. 

Can domain name extensions improve SEO?

Domain name extensions don’t directly affect SEO, but they can influence it indirectly. 

It’s to do with trust. 

People see some TLDs as more trustworthy than others, so they’re more likely to click on websites with them. For instance, most people trust .com websites, but they may not trust websites with more obscure TLDs (often with good reason). 

The more people click on your website, the more organic traffic you’re likely to get. This can then improve your rankings in search engines. 

Having a country code TLD (ccTLD) offers a significant SEO boost. ccTLDs send a strong sign to search engines that a website’s content is tailored for a specific country or region. Particularly helpful if you already have a website in one country and want to target another without starting from scratch. A ccTLD on this new site will tell Google you’re not doubling up on content; rather, it is for a different crowd.

Time to Get Your Domain

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