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Top Level Domains (TLDs) For The Best Google SEO

Updated on September 13, 2012

By a huge margin, the most popular website extension in use today, is the .com 'top level domain' (TLD). All website owners should however, consider buying other extensions, including applicable ccTLDs (country code TLD) and gTLDs (generic TLD) to not only safeguard their online investments against competition, but also to protect their brands.

Knowing your options for purchasing alternative domain names for your website, will require you to have some understanding of the current domain name governance model. Deciding how far to go in purchasing will depend on your specific situation and goals. Fortunately though, the governance model is quite straight forward.

The global system of domain names on the internet, is governed by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Number, more commonly referred to as ICANN. The specific bodies that will sell you the domain names though, are the individual national ccTLD authorities, along with ICANN accredited registrar companies. Not everybody can be an accredited ICANN registrar. The complete list of accredited registrars can be found by visiting iCann. A complete list of all the ccTLD authorities, you can visit the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) site. IANA is also managed by ICANN.

Generic top level domains include .com, .net and .org. Below is a list of all the currently available gTLDs.

  • .com - This is available for use by anyone, since the rules for use and ownership are unrestricted. It is one of the oldest, and was originally intended only for commercial use
  • .net - Similarly, this TLD was originally intended for use by network providers, but now has unrestricted usage. For many website owners, this is the default second choice when .com TLD is unavailable. 
  • .org - The original intention was to use this for non-profit organisations. However, it now has unrestricted use, and can be found in both commercial and non-commercial use.
  • .edu - This TLD is used primarily by tertiary education institutions, and largely only in the United States.
  • .gov - Exclusively used by the various levels of government, from local government department to the federal government in the United States.
  • .int - Exclusively for use by treaty-based international organisations.
  • .mil - Exclusively used by the U.S. Department of Defence.
  • .biz - This is a fairly recent introduction, created for use by commercial business entities, in part to alleviate the saturated .com TLD namespace 
  • .info - Another unrestricted TLD, the intention when it was created, was for use in informational sites.
  • .name - The intention for this TLD, is that it is solely for personal use.
  • .pro - Similar to the above, but with the intention that it be used professionally, by various professionals, including doctors, accountants and lawyers.

In addition, there are a number of sponsored TLDs available. Unlike generic TLDs that are governed by policies defined by ICANN, sponsored TLDs are often, though not always, governed by the sponsor. Examples of such sponsored TLD are given in the list below.

  • .aero - aviation industry
  • .coop - co-operatives such as credit unions
  • .museum - museums
  • .cat - Catalan community
  • .jobs - employment sites and staffing agencies
  • .tel - Internet telephony applications
  • .travel - travel and tourism industry

While these sponsored TLDs have gained popularity in some circles, their use remains minute when contrasted with the generic TLDs. For example, while Google has less than 1 million .aero pages and less than 100,000 .tel pages indexed, it has well over 20 billion .com pages, and more than 2 billion .org pages in its index.

Country Code TLDs

The ccTLD class of domain includes all external territory, and country-specific domain extensions. Every ccTLD is two characters in length, and each is managed either by a manager approved by IANA, or by a designated trustee. Most countries also use second level domains (ccSLDs). These secondary designations are used to simulate the segregation that exists in the gTLD name space. '.co.uk', '.co.za', and '.co.il' for example, designate the commercial name space for the United Kingdom, South Africa and Israel respectively. Similarly, the .org equivalents for Zimbabwe, Australia and India are '.org.zw', '.org.au' and '.org.in' respectively. Additionally, many countries have a lot more second-level domain designations, and if you are interested, you can check with each specific country domain registrar for more information.

In conclusion, your choices for the right SEO domain name for your website need to be restricted only by what .com you can find. With a bit of effort, you can find a good search engine friendly domain in many of the other gTLDs, sponsored TLDs, and even country specific TLDs. It should be noted too that you do not necessarily need to have a physical business presence in a country to use their ccTLD. Many countries do allow international registrations. One of the most popular URL shortening service for example, is http://bit.ly, whose '.ly' ccTLD is from Libya.

Comments

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  • Greek One profile image

    Greek One 

    7 years ago

    very interesting overview. Tell me, what is your opinion on the new domains supposedly coming out by October 2012?

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