In the last quarter of 2019, companies reported that there were at the time over 360 million registered domains on the Internet. While .com domains are the most common for American companies, there are so many more options out there for all the different types of domain. But would you understand enough to know the difference between the types of domains when buying one?
This article will help explain the different types of domains that exist on the Internet. By the end, you will be able to talk with confidence about what they are and what they provide. So read on to find out more.
The top-level domain is the highest level in a domain name’s hierarchy. It represents the last part of a domain name, and as such is often described as the “domain ending”.
For example, in the URL “www.exampledomain.com”, the top-level domain is the “com” at the end.
To help clarify what domains exist on the Internet, a single organization handles which ones are acceptable. They thus define how the DNS servers handle these requests. This is the ICANN, or Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.
The decision to make new TLDs happens because of several factors. These include the general need for the population to have new domains, as well as sponsorship and political motivations.
After creating a new domain, the ICANN then assigns the rights to sell these domain names to specific registrars. The registrars work with countries to ensure people receive the domains according to the rules that are set by whoever owns them.
There were only seven TLDs available when they were first made. These were:
.com: Used for commercial sites on the Internet.
.org: Used by non-profit organizations.
.net: Reserved for Internet Service Provider websites.
.int: For use by organizations that operate in many countries.
.edu: Only available for schools and universities.
.gov: Available for United States government sectors.
.mil: Reserved for the United States Department of Defense.
Over time, this list of TLDs increased in number to include many other forms of TLD. You can see these below.
Country Code TLDs
These are two-letter TLDs that ICANN has reserved for each country in the world. They only ever consist of two letters and get offered out based on rules that each involved country determines.
These also exist for specific dependent territories, such as .cx for Christmas Island.
Over time, the limitations have decreased somewhat. .scot now exists for the country of Scotland as a smaller section of the country of the United Kingdom, as well as .cymru for the country of Wales.
Generic TLDs exist to cover thematic concepts. They are either sponsored or non-sponsored.
ICANN controls non-sponsored TLDs and doles out their use. Some examples of these are as follows:
.biz: Used by businesses for business purposes.
.name: Used by private individuals for their own purposes.
.info: Used to provide information on a specific topic.
Sponsored Generic TLDs
These are special TLDs that have a specific group that looks after the TLD. They can set their policies for who can make use of them. Examples include:
.jobs: Used by HR managers.
.post: Used by postal services.
.xxx: Used by the pornography industry.
Second-level domains are the next set of instructions below a top-level domain. This is often called the “Domain name” in general, although that is not always the case.
The second-level domain is often used to describe the website itself. So, for example, “www.microsoft.com” would go to a popular technology company’s main website, but the rest of the domain is quite generic.
Country-Specific Second-Level Domains
Some specific countries have their own second-level domains. They make use of sub-domains or third-level domains to get the specificity otherwise found in second-level domains.
Examples of these would include:
.gov.uk: Used by the UK government.
.com.br: Used by commercial activities in Brazil.
.tokyo.jp: Used by entities only in Tokyo, Japan.
Third Level Domains
These are often called “sub-domains” and refer to the entry before the second-level domain. So, for example, in the site “www.apple.com”, this would be the www.
These are domains that do not contain words from a dictionary, nor do they describe a specific service. Companies can instead use them in the creation and promotion of new brands. A great example would be Bodis.com.
Domains which were previously registered by another entity and left to expire, becoming available for registration once more. When people refer to expired domains, they are talking about those that specific organizations use to have registered. Since then, the domain name has lapsed with their domain registrar and someone else can register the domain name instead.
Domains which define a general category. Examples of generic domains include Holidays.com, Insurance.com, Fahrrad.de (Bicycle), parlare.it (Talk). These are domains that do not refer to a specific company or group but instead define themselves by generic concepts. Organizations or individuals may buy them, though, and use them for any purpose. Examples might include “computers.com” or “talk.com”.
Domains that contain dictionary word(s) and perfectly describe a product or service. To be considered premium, the domain should be as short as possible for ease of memorability and preferably less than 16 characters excluding TLD (e.g. .com). Premium domains contain words found in a common dictionary but also describe a specific product or service. This gives the domain a fantastic SEO boost and makes it simple for people to remember it, ultimately making it worth a lot to investors.
These are often also known as mistyped domains. They are misspellings of other, more popular websites. This leads to people buying them to “typosquat” and earning money off people going to the wrong website. Domains which are misspellings of others. Typosquatting is the process of registering common misspellings of other highly trafficked domains to benefit from the mistype traffic of the original site. We do NOT recommend this. Doing so may violate the intellectual property rights of third parties and could result in large fines.
Where To Learn More About Types of Domains
You should now understand what the different types of domains are and what they can do for you. If you still have questions related to this, though, check out more of our resources.