Since Al Gore first invented the Internet, um, since the Internet’s infancy, the domain name extension .com has been the standard for nearly all websites. Because so many .com domain names have been purchased over the decade, many companies are switching to a different domain name extension rather than jumbling up the company name to fit with available .com domain names.
I realize that intro was a little bit technical, so let me provide you with a totally fabricated example. Penny’s Purple Purses wants to build a website. Oddly enough, pennyspurplepurses.com is taken. Rather than changing the website to something like pennyspurplebags.com, she elects to keep her trade name and change the domain extension to pennyspurplepurses.biz.
The reason many businesses are doing this is simple: No one types in web addresses any more. When was the last time you searched for a product by typing in a URL? When was the last time you used a search engine like Google? Bingo. For Penny, it makes more sense to keep her trade name and focus on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) than it does to change her name and image to fit within available .com domains.
Here’s a little trivia nugget about the domain extention .com. The extension doesn’t really matter. That’s right. In the majority of cases, a .com is no different than a .biz or .net. There are a few exceptions, but we’ll examine them in this month’s 5ives.
5 Domain Extensions and What They Mean to Users and Your Business.
For a long time, .net has been the “plan B” for businesses that could not get their trade name as the domain name. .net is short for Inter*net*. Most users won’t blink if a website is a .net or a .com so long as the .com counterpart isn’t direct competition or offensive. For example, Bob’s Lumber, bobslumber.net, sells wood and bobslumber.com is is pun for wooden lumbar supports. A person who types in the .com may be upset if they get directed to the wrong site, but as mentioned before, only a small number of people still attempt to type in domain names. Chances are a person who searches for Bob’s Lumber will know instantly by the search engine description which site sells lumber and which site sells pine corsets.
Until recently, .org domain names were reserved for non-profit organizations. While that restriction has been lifted, it’s important to note that the .org domain name extension still gives off the impression that the company is non-profit or an activist by nature. If your company is neither, shy away.
This is the “dot com from across the pond”, in other words the .com of England. Most domestic domain registries don’t even allow a US company to purchase .co.uk domains. I wanted to mention it, however, in case you ever find yourself shopping on one of these sites. If you do, remember the shipping will be trans-atlantic and one English Pound equals around two American Dollars. Other foreign domain name extensions are .ca (Canada) .au (Austrailia) .nz (New Zealand). There are more, but these sites come from countries where English is the national language.
.biz is an interesting choice for a domain name extension in my opinion. On the one hand, .biz is short for “business” which should imply the same level of professionalism as a .com. On the other hand, I always hear the term “biz” and think of a slick talent agent who’s trying to make a quick buck, “that’s show biz, baby!” Maybe I’m just one person, but if I were to search for an accountant, lawyer or personal doctor and found their site to say .biz, I may be a little put off. Then again, a quality site trumps an appropriate domain name extension every time.
These sites pertain to the US government. They are one of the few examples of domain name extensions that are not available for commercial use and for good reason. A .gov site is a place where information is credible and is generally a resource you can trust.
I put it in bold above, but it needs restating. A well designed, planned and user-friendly website is far more important than a domain name extension. Attention to SEO and links to social media will help drive traffic more than simply having a .com at the end of the domain.
I’ll leave you with a rule of thumb we at Absolute Marketing like use when purchasing domain names. If you say your domain name out loud and it rolls off the tongue, buy it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a .net, .com. or .biz. What matters is that people remember it and remember the company it belongs to.