A Complete Guide to Generic Top-Level Domain

Those who are using the Internet for quite some time must have searched for several websites by entering a gTLD into the search bar. A gTLD stands for Generic Top-Level Domain, is used by a great number of websites to help to make the Internet a more managed space. But to know what exactly is a gTLD, from where it is originated, and how a website uses it to gain the benefit, let’s dive into our post.

A Complete Guide to Generic Top-Level Domain

But before reading on our article, take a look at how the internet and web addresses are managed.

1. Domain Name System (DNS)

As of January 2018, a survey showed that over 1,800,000,000 websites exist on the internet. That’s 1.8+ billion individual web addresses that occur online, with more increasing day after day.

The organization of the total web addresses is undoubtedly a wearying job but with the creation of the Domain Name System (DNS) in the year 1983, the whole process got greatly simplified.

The DNS can be thought of as an internet’s phonebook. A web address, like namecab.com, is represented as an IP address which is a lengthy string of numbers working as an address of a website (quite similar to your home address corresponding to your house).

DNS is responsible for translating the IP address into the domain names. With the domain names, it gets easier to remember the web address as they are smaller and more applicable to the real world than a long string of numbers.

2. Parts of a Domain Name

A domain name consists of multiple components that are separated by a period. i.e., “.”. For the demonstration of how a web address can be broken, we’ll be using NameCab.com as an example. The domain name has two parts i.e., a Second-Level Domain (SLD) and a Top-Level Domain (TLD).

  • Second-Level Domain (SLD): The second-level domain is the text written before the period in NameCab.com i.e., NameCab. All web addresses contain a second-level domain which helps in differentiating one website from others.
  • Top-Level Domain (TLD): The top-level domain is the word that falls next to the period, specifically, “.com”. A TLD not only distinguishes a site from others but helps in determining the content of the website too.

More than a thousand unique TLDs are available, but the most famous and used of them are regarded as the generic top-level domains (gTLDs).

3. What is a gTLD?

A gTLD (generic Top-level Domain) is a domain extension that identifies the web address generically as linked to some domain class and gets used for various purposes. Here, the term “generic” refers that search engines find it as something generic or common yet the websites using gTLDs are considered valuable and sought-after to the firms and people who use them.

Read the history of gTLDs to understand the reason behind this.

4. History of gTLDs

The first of several groups of gTLDs were released in the 1980s, right after the invention of the internet. These were created to help the earliest generation of people using the internet to organize their websites. Even being over three decades old, there are some gTLDs that are most famous on the web. Below are the top 7 gTLDs:

  1. .com
  2. .net
  3. .org
  4. .edu
  5. .gov
  6. .int
  7. .mil

Possibly, you have seen or remember all of these, if not all, then some of these gTLDs.

As they are quite popular and widely used, domain names comprising of these gTLDs are often regarded as more respected and valuable than those who include rarely-used TLDs introduced in the past few years.

Read more: Top 20 Most Highly-Priced Domain Names

5. ccTLDs vs. gTLDs: Which One to Choose?

Different kinds of top-level domains are available of which the two are ccTLDs and gTLDs. As gTLDs are already discussed, we’ll explain ccTLDs (country code top-level domains) in short. Similar to gTLDs, ccTLDs are represented by a collection of letters that appears right after the period in the web address.

In contrast to gTLDs, ccTLDs classifies a country, free state, or autonomous region. If there is a ccTLD in the web address, you can presume that the site refers to a particular geographic region.

According to a report released in 2018, the top 10 ccTLDs used all across the globe are the following, in order of relevance:

  • .au – Australia
  • .br – Brazil
  • .cn – China
  • .de – Germany
  • .eu – European Union
  • .fr – France
  • .nl – Netherlands
  • .ru – Russia
  • .tk – Tokelau
  • .uk – United Kingdom

Comparing ccTLDs with gTLDs helps us know that the former is useful for websites to target internet users in their specific geographic location. Most of the ccTLD domain name owners believe that a ccTLD in their web address gives them a competitive advantage. Some of the ccTLDs like .us or .ca impose geographic limitations for users to register or access the websites.

6. Top 4 most popular gTLDs

Higher than 1000 TLDs exist on the internet which usually hints at a website’s service such as education, travel, movies, etc. But there are some which were created to be open-ended. Top 4 most popular gTLDs from that category are discussed below:

  • .co
  • .com
  • .net
  • .org

All these TLDs offer domain name owners distinctive benefits. Let’s dig deeper into their histories and effective use.

.co extension

.co has the most interesting origin of all the available gTLDs. Many gTLDs that we have discussed earlier were released right after the invention of the internet. But .co was introduced much later along with the other ccTLDs.

  • “co” in the .co gTLD stands for Colombia but it was changed to stand for company or commercial.
  • It is a cool option for firms and startups who don’t want to add the traditional gTLDs in their domain names.

Also, it is the only extension on the list which was basically developed for getting used exclusively as a country code. There are several reasons which have made this TLD quite famous in the last ten years.

First being its uniqueness, which is what every company and startup looks for to distinguish it from its competitors. The best approach to do this is by disassociating your firm from the earlier generations who knew no TLD except for .com.

While .com has an association with commercial, .co extension suggests corporation, company, and commercial.

The .co extension is considered quite modern. If anybody uses this domain, there are good chances of safeguarding the desired domain name. Most of the businesses are using the traditional domain names for years but .co is quite new and hasn’t been used extensively.

.com extension

Ever since the first group of gTLDs was released, .com has remained quite famous, and on this account, it is the most recognized extension.

  • .com is the most acknowledged generic top-level domain of all time
  • It is the most extensively used gTLD of all time
  • The com in .com stands for commercial

Once released merely to be used by commercial businesses, the .com has become the sought-after extension for most of the websites.

If anybody gets the chance to register the domain name with a .com extension, they should take all the advantages of the opportunity, including:

  • SEO Favorability: According to several SEO professionals, most of the search engines are biased towards the .com gTLD as it is frequently searched and extensively used. Therefore, all websites having the .com extension in their domain name have greater chances of appearing at the top of the search results.
  • Familiarity: Of course, all internet users have typed .com at some stage or even on a daily basis. Websites with the .com domain name are trusted more by the people as they see them every time and recognize them very well.

.net extension

We cannot ignore the influence of the .com extension, but we can also not ignore the power of the other gTLDs following it in the registration volume.

  • .net is one of the most famous generic top-level domain
  • It has been a gTLD since the 1980s
  • The net in .net extension stands for network

Originally, this gTLD was intended for tech-based industries and firms. But today, it is often used for websites that publicize, market, and sell web-based services.

As a small number of domain names have been registered with .net than .com extension, individuals or corporations have greater chances of acquiring the .net domain name to fit their brand and its services.

.org extension

The .org is another gTLD which can be used by the websites in their domain names. However, it was originally developed to identify the sites associated with NGOs and other similar organizations. Similar to .com and .net, it is one of the oldest and most reliable gTLD.

  • The word org in the .org stands for organization
  • Websites having .org in their domain names focus on community building

Websites with .org in their domain names are usually considered reliable. Some popular websites like Wikipedia have done much to support the trustworthiness of this great gTLD. Oftentimes, .org is linked with the sites that provide credible content, but it is also frequently used for registering those sites that serve as an online hub of communities of people with similar interests.

Also, this gTLD is a great option for SEO purposes. Though it may not get used as much as the .com gets, it still considered a powerful choice as it falls in the subsequent group of preferred gTLDs, including .net.

Despite the fact that .org was originally created for nonprofit organizations, less regulation has eliminated that limitation and made it possible for people associated with different industries to secure the right domain name with this gTLD. You can find thousands of registered .org domain names but not as much as .com, therefore you may get a better opportunity to get the domain name you want with .org.

7. Registration of a Domain Name and gTLD

The best method to register a domain name and gTLD is through the ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) officially authorized registrars. There are many domain registrars you can buy domains from

Read more: Top 10 Best Domain Registrars for Buying Domain Names Reviews

With this, you get a domain search application that enables you to search for your preferred domain name. If you find no exact match, they’ll show you a collection of domain names that exist and associates with the phrase or keyword you have searched for.

If you don’t know how to buy a domain name, please read this article How to Purchase and Register a Domain Name

8. Registration Cost

As some gTLDs and ccTLDs are more famous than others, they tend to have different prices. Some of the TLDs cost almost $8.99 while others cost $1.99 to register for a year. You can find the right domain name for your venture and register it for a duration of 1 – 5 years.

However, if you would like to invest in domain names or just want to buy some and then sell them again. You should join in many domain marketplaces I’ve listed here:  Top 10 Domain Name Marketplaces for Buying and Selling Domains

9. Summing up Generic Top-Level Domain

Since the 1980s, many famous gTLDs have been around, including .net, .org, .com, among others. When you use one of these TLDs to register the domain, your site gets an implicit authority depending on the familiarity many internet users have with those extensions.

The registration method is quite easy and can be done even at low costs through various best domain registrars available. You’ll witness that selecting a domain name and searching a credible web hosting firm has never been this much easier.

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