When talking about domain extensions, we can note a distinct difference between common internet users and people who are engaged in IT or WWW industry.
Internet users and domains
The most common website address is like www.domain-name.com and it is recognizable by any kind of internet user as such. What needs to be noted, that a less educated user might not know the www prefix is not necessary for almost all websites. The www prefix was needed when subdomains where regulating access to a server, and now is a relic of a past time, reminding us that all websites are a part of the world-wide-web service.
This is important because most internet users WILL try to type a website address, WITH www prefix and .com domain by default if they can not remember it exactly. This can lead to common mistakes when typing a website address, for example, www.domain-name.us.com in which the .us or .com is unnecessary. Through last two decades a great amount of marketing resources has been invested in establishing .com domain and for these reasons, a proper .com domain name is still the most valuable and desirable choice.
However, while we all know that a short and memorable .com domain is always the winner, there are very few free and unregistered ones, so we have to ask – which domain extension ranks the best (after .com)?
In the early days of internet we had those basic generic top-level domains (.com, .org, .net, .int, .edu, .gov, and .mil). Since 2015 our top-level domain choice has expanded, so now there are six categories – Infrastructure domains, Generic domains, Restricted domains, Sponsored domains, Country Code domains, and Test domains.
The good-old gTLD .net, .org or .edu are a very good choice, but only if your website is suitable to that type of niche – .net are best for online communities, while .org is intended for non-profit organizations, and .edu focuses on education institutions. Having a website that does not match that domain purpose can severely impact your website search ranking – more on that later.
The new generic top-level domains often represent a keyword such as .shop, .life, .buy, .food, .online etc. Some of them are slowly gaining popularity, though most of them were abused by spam and phishing scam websites because of their low initial first-year registration price. While the notorious reputation of some is still lingering in the minds of marketing company experts, we have seen some positive turns, favorable to ngTLD.
Recently Google parent company Alphabet has registered .xyz for their main website, while a number of restaurants and cafes has adopted .cafe, coffee, .pizza, .vin, .vine, .restaurant etc. Worldwide adoption of ngTLD by a new generation of entrepreneurs is becoming a reality.
Many start-up companies have turned to .io, .co or .tech domains as their favorite because it enables them to make a memorable and catchy domain name for their website. We can note that the .io and .co are country code top-level domains, but because of their generalized use, by search engines they are treated as international domain names, having same search ranking strength as other gTLD.
Any website that has a local audience in a certain region, or a certain language speaking audience, can benefit from a country code domain name, as ccTLD is preferred by search engines in a local search. For example, a person searching from the UK will have .co.uk and .uk results displayed before .com and other gTLD, providing a clear advantage.
Finally, we must note that some domains have a really notorious reputation and as such their search ranking is underwhelming, so they should be avoided, such as .biz which have a near 40% website spam ratio. I would recommend you check a domain spam rate with Google before registering that type of domain.
Content quality, industry relevance, and search engines
We all know that the computing industry has made big progress with different virtual assistants that offer a kind of AI experience for end-user. However, not many know about search engines and their really powerful set of algorithms, that study and “read” or website content, to be able to calculate our website search ranking.
Without a doubt, quality of the content presented on your website today is the most important factor of current SEO. Wroten articles must be original, informative and error-free, with added images and infographics. If your website is well made and within Google SEO guidelines, even a relatively bad domain extension will not have negative impact on your website search ranking.
When all is said and done, while the benefits of a .com domain are worth the extra investment, for a small or local business you do not have to pay a premium domain name price, as long as you focus on your on-page and off-page SEO, you still can achieve a high website search ranking. Ultimately, it is possible that someone drops a valuable domain name, so before registering a new one be sure to check for available expired domains that are suitable for your website.