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    What Is a Top-Level Domain?

    The day you launch your small business is the day you go into direct or indirect competition with the other 32 million-plus small businesses in the U.S. Brick-and-mortar businesses mostly compete directly with other local brick-and-mortar businesses. Yet, that is not the only battlefield.

    Odds are good that you have some kind of website for your business. That means you’re up against the approximately 200 million active websites online, even if it’s just for attention.

    One of the critical decisions you make regarding your website is which of the top-level domains you’ll use for your website address. Not clear on what a top-level domain is or why it matters? Keep reading for our quick guide.

    What Are Top-Level Domains?

    When people talk about top-level domains, what they’re really talking about are domain extensions. The most famous domain extensions include:

    • .com
    • .org
    • .net

    These sit at the very, very top of the Domain Name System.

    In principle, these extensions function as generic domain extensions that simply indicate the type of website. Websites with a .com extension, for example, are typically commercial websites that support a business in some way.

    Your .org websites are typically, but not always, non-profits organizations of some kind. The .net extension originally meant the site related to networking, but now it’s a popular choice for online businesses.

    Other Types of Top-Level Domains

    Over time, a number of other generic top-level domains developed to address specific needs or uses. For example, .gov is a sponsored generic top-level domain, as are .mil and .edu.

    Another common type of domain extension you see is the country code. For American websites, the country code is .us, while sites based in England would .uk.

    These extensions often come after a more recognizable extension like .co or .com. International businesses will often use these country codes to help customers find the correct version of their website.

    Picking Your Top-Level Domain

    Let’s say that you hired a marketing company and they’re providing web development for your first website. One of the things you must decide on is what website name you’ll use. Part of that decision includes deciding on a top-level domain.

    Many businesses default to .com simply because it’s so recognizable. In other cases, you may want an industry-specific or location-specific top-level domain, such as:

    • .pizza
    • .law
    • .nyc

    Picking the right top-level domain can make marketing your business easier. If you only operate in one city or only provide one service, the right top-level domain helps boost the odds of your site turning up for location and service-specific searches when paired with a good SEO strategy.

    Top-Level Domains and You

    Top-level domain decisions can feel a little daunting when you realize how varied the choices actually are in practice. You can lean into your industry, product, or service. Plus, you may even want a country code as well.

    When in doubt, though, the traditional .com is always a reliable choice. You can also consult with a marketing agency for advice. DG Studio provides an extensive range of web development and marketing services. For more information or to get started, contact DG Studio today.

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