Domain Registration: Which Domain Extensions are Best for SEO
Do domain extensions affect your SEO? Learn what the experts recommend. AT&T Website Solutions offer a simple and easy domain registration solution.
Domain Registration: Which Extensions are Best for SEO?
A domain is the name of your site, the address that people type in the browser URL bar to visit your website. In some way, the beginning of everything.
Selecting the right domain extension (.com, .net, .org, etc.) is a critical step in the domain registration process. It can however be challenging with so many options available to choose from.
One of the most important considerations is its effect on your search engine optimization (SEO) plans. With businesses tightening up their marketing spends during the COVID-19 pandemic, organic sources of traffic such as search engines play a vital role in the sustainability of these businesses. Choosing the wrong domain extension can limit your growth potential and ability to establish online authority.
Domain Name Structure
Most top-level domains (TLDs) can be sorted into two groups:
- generic TLDs (gTLDs)
Examples of generic top-level domains are .com, .net, .org and are not tied to a specific country. They are usually available for anyone to register as general-purpose domain extensions. Some gTLDs are restricted and can only be registered by certain people or entities; .biz, for instance, is restricted to business.
- country-code TLDs (ccTLDs)
Country code top-level domains are two-letter top-level domains that are reserved for countries, sovereign states, or dependent territories. Examples include .us for the United States, .ca for Canada, .cn for China, and .de for Germany. In the case of .co.uk and .org.uk, the extra letters before the ccTLD signify the type of entity the extension is intended for (.co.uk - "for profit" UK businesses, .org.uk - "not for profit" UK organisations).
How to Choose the Right Domain Extension
Before you register a domain, take a couple of things into consideration:
- What is the purpose of your website?
- Is your business a country-specific business or international? This will help you understand which country code top-level domain to choose.
- Are you for-profit or nonprofit?
Typically, a for-profit business may choose a recognizable extension such as .com or .net. Nonprofit organizations may consider an extension like a .org. However today there are more than 1,000 extensions available to choose from.
.com is the most common domain extension used by businesses. Most SEO professionals will strongly recommend you start with a .com if it's available. The search engines recognize it as one of the oldest and widely used domain extensions.
.net is the second most widely used extension and is generally accepted as a trusted extension by internet users. It may not have the prestige of a .com, however it is often accepted by the SEO community as a viable alternative.
.org is the last of the “big three” and often used by nonprofits. Even if a business is for-profit, they often register the domain and hold it to avoid confusion from other businesses that may try to register and operate out of it.
.co domains are quickly becoming more popular as an alternative to the traditional .com. Originally assigned as a ccTLD for Columbia, businesses across North America have started using this extension as an alternative when the .com is not available for domain registration. One common complaint however is how often it is easily mixed up by visitors who may still type in .com so there are always trade offs.
Today there are many more domain extensions available to allow users to buy and register a variety of names. For example a marketing agency may want to register a .agency domain or a school may want to register a .school domain. Their relevance to SEO however is highly debated in the community. At face value, there is no reason why any extension should not rank on the first page if all best practices are followed to optimize a website. However, most SEO professionals argue that the search engines still favor the commonly used extensions and have not fully adjusted their algorithms to adjust for the new extensions. To be on the safe side, most SEO professionals recommend you stick with the common extensions (.com, .net, .org, .info, .biz) if they are available for purchase and use specialty extensions as a fall back.
Fast & Easy Domain Registration
At AT&T Website Solutions, we make it easy for any business to register their domain name. Our integrated search tool will allow you to search for the best available domains using the most common domain extensions. If your intended domain is already registered, don’t worry! We will provide alternative recommendations to make your search easier. Start your search today.