In the ever-changing world of domain extensions, it’s easy to fall behind. You might be building your first site, or asking friends for advice on what domain to buy.You might even be further along in the process and are trying to weigh the SEO value of a gTLD versus a ccTLD. No matter your website’s status,, this simple article will define the terms and explain how different domain extensions might affect your site.
Domain names are web-addresses (which are essentially URLs), but domain extensions are what come after the last or second-to-last dot in a URL. There are thousands of domain extensions available, and they are separated into two different groups: generic top-level domains (gTLDs) and country-code top-level domains (ccTLDs). The country code top-level domains represent a geographic location (usually a country) and have a two-letter abbreviation (e.g. .us, .uk), whereas generic top-level domains can be any length and generally exist to service a specific industry or audience (e.g. .com, .org, .net, .info). The most common generic top-level domain is .com, but there are actually hundreds of generic domain extensions, and over a thousand in total if you add in the number of so called second-level domains (such as .com.au).
Most generic top-level domains and a good number of country-code domains are available for purchase from domain registrars, regardless of what country you operate out of, but there are some exceptions. An example of a generic TLD unavailable to the public is ‘.gov’ – this TLD is reserved specifically for government institutions. Countries might also require additional documentation to purchase their ccTLD.
Countries which have their own domain extension are called “Country Code Top Level Domains.” These are domain extensions tied to a specific country. There are over 200 countries tied to ccTLDs, and they are often used by regional sites and businesses. Examples of country code domains are .ru (Russia), .br (Brazil), and .au (Australia)
Some domain registrars have a list of any additional requirements needed to purchase a specific domain extension. As an example, below is a screenshot of the requirements for registering a .ai domain from 101domain’s website — the .ai domain is an example of a domain that does not require the registrant to be a resident of the country’s domain being purchased.
There are also a few ccTLDs that operate and are marketed as a gTLD. Sticking with the example above, a lot of tech companies use the “.ai” or “.io” domain extension as an acronym for “artificial intelligence” or “inputs/outputs” (but the TLDs actually represent Anguilla and the Indian Ocean territory). This article titled “The Meaning Behind That IO Domain You Keep Seeing Everywhere” goes into a lot more detail about this topic.
Of all the domain registrars, 101Domain currently offers more domain extensions than any other domain registration service.
Generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD)
Generic TLDs have a minimum of three characters (e.g. .com) and are managed by international organizations. The main management organization is the Internet Corporation for the Assignment of Names and Numbers (ICANN). gTLDs are highly recommended for sites with a global geographic audience. For companies utilizing different ccTLDs for different versions or languages of their site, SEO strategists suggest consolidating to one domain, therefore putting all your SEO value under one roof, so to speak. SEO specialists also recommend adding 301 redirects to the domains with different ccTLDs into your single, consolidated domain if you’ve already begun separating your sites by using country code.
When considering which gTLD to get, it’s highly recommended to choose a well-accepted gTLD such as the .com gTLD or an industry-specific one such like .loans. While there are some cheaper gTLDs available (e.g. ‘.xyz, or‘.top), these are not recommended because of the high number of sites with these TLDs associated with spam.
Country-Code Top Level Domain (ccTLD)
ccTLDs have two characters and are managed by individual organizations in each country. In the case of the Australian domain extension .au, the auDA is the organization that manages extension. It was formed with the endorsement of the Australian government and the authority of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. (ICANN)
A ccTLD can be particularly good for SEO if a website is targeted to a single country. While this is beneficial for positioning at the local and national level, an international presence might look different. When employing an international SEO strategy where the same site is on each country’s domain and translated into that country’s language, running multiple sites with lots of pages can be both difficult to maintain and difficult to build a digital footprint for because each site will require its own backlinks and content. Several experts who tested this concluded that efforts are better spent building the SEO footprint for a single domain.
Some countries have strict requirements for using their ccTLD, which may make acquiring those specific domains a difficult process. Be sure to review the necessary requirements for a ccTLD before purchasing that domain.
Finally, a ccTLD may be a solid option for your site because the .com (or other popular extension) with the text string you’re looking for may have already been purchased by another individual. In the words of some hilarious member on a domain forum, I read a while back, “Domains are like women: All the good ones are taken, unless you get one from a strange country.”
Well put – which is one of the reasons why you may consider getting a ccTLD instead of a .com or another popular domain extension.