Does a Domain Extension Really Matter?

Many people don’t put much thought into the second half of the company website until it comes time to create the website. The second half of a website name is called the “domain extension,” and believe it or not, this does make a difference.

.comFor most companies, the domain name is pretty easy because it is simply the name of the company. Blogs and other companies with more common names have a bit harder time coming up with a domain name, but it’s certainly still something that is considered important. After all, the name of your website is one of the most important things you can do for your company. The easier your website name is to remember, the higher the likelihood that your company will continue to grow. Company websites are becoming so popular amongst shoppers and general consumers that a company almost needs one to succeed. 

However, many people don’t put much thought into the second half of that company website until it comes time to create the website. The second half of a website name is called the “domain extension,” and believe it or not, this does make a difference. Below are a few domain extensions that some websites use based upon the type of website they are creating:

  • .edu – Educational websites use this extension.
  • .gov – Government run websites use this extension.
  • .org – Non-profit organizations generally use this extension.
  • .mil – Reserved for the United States Military

If you own a company that falls into one of these three categories, it is pretty obvious what domain extension you are going to use. Consumers are usually aware of what these extensions mean, so they serve as another way to inform visitors and potential customers, clients, or visitors.

Domain Extension Options

Unfortunately, the domain extension choice isn’t so clear for other companies. There are many different domain extension options, and many consumers and companies alike are unaware of what the extension is supposed to mean. Below is a list of some of these extensions:

  • .com – This is what every company strives to obtain because it is the most popular. Consumers know they can trust a .com website. This is supposed to be used for a company that is commercial.
  • .net – This is usually the second choice for webmaster after .com. The extension stands for “network” and is supposed to be used for online-based companies.
  • .info – Although once heavily used by spammers, more and more companies have adopted this extension. This is supposed to be used by companies that offer a large quantity of general information.
  • .biz – This is also supposed to be used for business and commercial use companies.

Many companies may come up with a domain name, and then realize that the extension they were hoping for has already been taken. This happens most commonly when a company is hoping for a .com extension. They may not have even considered another extension or what another extension may mean for the website, yet suddenly it seems to be their only choice. This led me to wonder: How much does the extension really matter?

Does the Domain Extension Really Matter?

On a deeper level, domain extensions do not matter. Search engines do not care what extension you are using, so long as you have quality content that is valuable to readers. These extensions only exist to help categorize different information on the web. A search engine will index a .info site just as it would a .com site. If the site offers unique content, has high engagement and a large number of quality backlinks, the website will rank! The only extensions that matter when it comes to a search engine ranking are country code extensions. A country code extension will not rank highly in other countries, so it’s best to avoid these extensions if you want to attract people from across the globe.

On a surface level, domain extensions do seem to matter. When someone types a search query into Google, .com sites are usually the overwhelming majority of results. This is because somewhere along the line people began to assume that .com sites were the most reputable. Sites such as .info have had a long line of spam problems, so people seemed to gravitate toward the .com sites. Because of this, these sites have slowly begun to take over search results. It is almost like a domino effect—people decide .com are the best, they only click .com, therefore the .com sites are getting the most backlinks, and the search engines put them on top. It is a common misconception that .com sites are the “best” sites, yet it is the currently reality. For this reason, trying to own a .com site is probably your best chance of success, though not your only chance.

What to Do If the Extension You Want is not Available

A company can check whether or not the domain name and extension are available by either typing in the URL they want in the Google search box to see if a website comes up, or by visiting Go Daddy.com and typing in the name and selecting the extension.

If the domain extension you were hoping for is taken, you have three different options:

  • New Name – If you have your heart set on a .com extension, then you may want to try changing your domain name as opposed to the extension. This is much more difficult if you own a company and are hoping for a company name, but this isn’t too difficult for bloggers or very young companies. Get creative and think up something new; don’t have your heart set on one name.
  • New Extension – Creating a successful website is completely up to you. Although it may be a bit tougher with a less-popular extension, it is still possible! More and more sites are making .net extensions work, so it may be a good idea to choose a different extension and go for it. Don’t let the extension bring down what you want to do.
  • Waiting List – If you aren’t in a hurry to get started on your website, Go Daddy and other domain selling sites offer waiting lists and even auctions. You can learn more by visiting the site and typing in the name and extension you’re interested in buying.

Ultimately, starting a website should be exciting. If you’re feeling stressed about the domain extension, it’s best to take a step back and remember that it is the content on the page that really matters. Try not to get too attached to one domain name or one extension, and focus more on your overall goals. With the right marketing, any domain extension will work.

Photo Credit: fresheventure.com

Amanda DiSilvestroAmanda DiSilvestro is a writer on topics ranging from social media to document scanning. She writes for an online resource that gives advice on topics including document software to small businesses and entrepreneurs for the leading business directory, Business.com.