Top Level Domains



Top Level Domains: Country Code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs)

ccTLDs are based on the country name the domain is associated with.  For example, .us is the United States ccTLD, .de is the German ccTLD (for Deutchland), and so on.

ccTLDs often  have restrictions, limiting their use to residents and businesses/organizations of the country the ccTLD is associated with. Some countries are relaxing restrictions, however.  In fact, as of today,  .fr (French) domains are now available to anyone living in within the EU, as well as French ex-patriots and companies with trademarks registered in France.

Usage of a ccTLD is a signal to users and search engines about what type of content can be expected on the domain. This includes both the content subject matter and usually the language the content is written in.  Many companies use ccTLDs for their regionally or language-targeted websites/microsites.

Top Level Domains: Generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs)

Worldwide, the most popular and widely recognized generic top level domain is .com, followed by .net and .org.  These are all considered “original” top level domains in addition to .edu, .gov, and .mil which were and still are restricted to:

  • .edu domains: higher education institutions in the US
  • .gov domains: government entities in the US
  • .mil domains: the US military

The original TLDs were defined in 1984. .biz, .info, .name, and other generic top level domains were introduced in 2000, followed by others over the decade.

In 2011, there were two major developments in gTLDs that have been of interest to both the domain community and  the general public. They are: the launch of the .xxx domain (live as of 12/6/11) and the ICANN announcement that anyone can now apply for a brand or category TLD.  (As long as that anyone has upwards of $200k + related yearly expenses).

Many people are feeling apprehensive about this new development, when the truth is that these new top level domains will most likely not perform any better than others that have been released since the original six: .com, .net, .org, .mil, .gov, and .edu – which are still the most universally recognized top level domains.

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