Understanding Domain Extensions

Everything You Need to Know About Domain Extensions

Domain extensions are something the average user doesn’t think about, but they all subconsciously think of one when they enter a URL, and that’s “.com”. Most people assume every website ends with “.com” and that’s because most major ones do.

That said, there are hundreds of domain extensions you can choose to use for your website, yet, almost everyone is striving for “.com”, due to the public perception behind it.

Today, we are going to discuss why that is the case, and what domain extensions do for your site.

What Are Domain Extensions?

A domain extension is the last part of the domain name, which is the characters that follow the period. For example, the domain extension of GreenGeeks.com is “.com” and the extension of WhiteHouse.gov is “.gov“.

When the Internet first started, there were just six domain extensions which included:

  • .COM (commercial)
  • .ORG (organization)
  • .NET (network)
  • .EDU (education)
  • .GOV (government)
  • .MIL (military)

However, as the internet grew and the number of websites that needed a unique domain name expanded at a tremendous rate, so did the number of domain extensions.

Today, there are over 1600 domain extensions that you can choose from.

How Domain Extensions Work

There are essentially three parts to a domain name; a Subdomain, a Second-Level Domain, and a Top-Level Domain. However, it can be broken down even further, so let’s take a look.


A Subdomain is a domain that is a part of a larger domain under the Domain Name System (DNS) hierarchy. Subdomains are used as an easy way to create a more memorable web address for specific or unique content with a website.

For example, you could use a Subdomain to make it easier for users to remember and navigate to the picture gallery of a site by placing it in the address gallery.example.com, as opposed to example.com/media/gallery.

In this example, the Subdomain is gallery.example, whereas the main domain is example.com. You may also hear a Subdomain referred to as a “child domain.” 

Second-Level Domain 

A Second-Level Domain (SLD) is a specific part of a website, page domain name, or URL address that complements a Top-Level Domain.

One of the easiest ways to define a Second-Level Domain is that it consists of that portion of the domain name to the left of the “.COM” or other similar extensions, which is called a Top-Level Domain.

Analysis of the Top-Level and Second-Level domains helps to analyze a URL or page address.

Top-Level Domain or TLD 

A Top-Level Domain, or TLD, is a term you may have come across before while you were trying to search for that perfect domain name. TLD is just a fancy term for your domain name’s extension.

The domain name extension is the letters to the right of your Second-Level Domain. An easy example of this is .COM or .ORG. When someone is referring to a TLD they are referring to the extension only.

Generic Top-Level Domain or gTLD

A Generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD), refers to domain extensions that are generic in nature. Google recognizes these as generic and you can feel free to register them all for your business or personal domain name.

Some of the common ones you will find are .XYZ, .ONLINE, etc. There are literally hundreds so good luck!

Country-Code Top-Level Domain, or ccTLD

A Country-Code Top-Level Domain (ccTLD), refers to custom domain extensions that are region or country-specific domains. An easy and popular example of this would be something like .CA (Canada) or .JP (Japan).

Undoubtedly, you have seen these before online or even visited a site with a Country-Code Domain.

Sponsored Top-Level Domain or sTLD

A Sponsored Top-Level Domain (sTLD) is used by specific niches and is not allowed for use by the general population or general customers. Two of the more recognizable are .GOV and .EDU.

The .GOV domain is only available and in use by the American government. The .EDU domain is an extension that is only available to postsecondary education institutions and related organizations for registration.

In order to be eligible to use this domain extension, said institution must be located in the United States, legally organized in the U.S., or recognized by a U.S. state, territorial, or federal agency.

Top 5 Most Common Extensions for Domains

While there are a lot of domain extensions you can choose from, the truth is that most websites are concentrated under just a few of them. Let’s take a look at the most popular domain extensions.

Note: I am not including governmental extensions like “.gov”, which are specific to the US government. I will also exclude the “.edu” extension for similar reasons. While they are popular domain extensions, they are not open to the public, thus there is no reason to include them.


Without a doubt, the “.com” extension is the most popular domain extension in the world. It was one of the original extensions a site could use and originally was meant for for-profit businesses. But today, anyone can use it.

Nowadays, whenever someone hears mention of a website, the natural assumption is that it ends with “.com”. As such, due to its widespread popularity, if the “.com” version of your domain is available, you should pick it.


The “.net” extension was originally for internet service providers (ISPs), but today it is open to any kind of site and has solidified itself as the second most popular domain extension on the Internet.

Due to the way the extension sounds, it is a strong choice for tech companies because it sounds techy.


In the past, the “.org” extension was used to represent non-profit organizations like charities, and relief organizations. But like most extensions, it has been opened up to the public. Yet, many charity organizations still prefer to use “.org” today.

Another popular use for “.org” has become community-driven sites like Wikipedia.


Originally, the “.co” extension was a ccTLD for Columbia, but since then, it has gained a lot of popularity because it is so similar to the most popular option “.com”. Today, it is open to everyone.

With that said, “.co” is not a replacement for “.com” and many simply forget to type the “m”, which can make it a great domain to buy out and redirect users to your actual site.


The “.us” domain extension was originally a ccTLD and still is one specific to the United States. As such, to register this extension, you must be a US citizen or an entity from the US.

In the past, this was used alongside the “.gov” extension, but it was opened to anyone in the US.

Naturally, .us sites are typically made for audiences from the US. A great example would be Vote.us, which exists to help you register to vote. It is a great choice for any site trying to have a patriotic look and can typically be seen as a trustworthy extension because of the requirements.

How Much Do Domain Extensions Cost?

Since every website needs a domain extension, many interested in starting a website are probably wondering how much a domain name is. And the truth is, it depends on the domain name itself and the extension you choose to use.

First, let’s talk about pricing differences between extensions. It’s no secret that the “.com” extension is the most popular option. Naturally, it is the most expensive option because it is the most sought-after.

On average a “.com” extension is about 20% more expensive than the next most popular option “.net” and that trend continues as you go down the extension list. This is simply due to the demand for “.com” and nothing else.

Now, to answer the question directly, a domain name and its extensions are included for free when you sign up for our web hosting services. Buying them individually depends on where you buy them from and can range anywhere from $10 to $40 depending on the extension itself.

It’s also worth pointing out that the price of purchasing a domain name from a domain registrar is different from buying one from an individual. Individuals selling domain names are looking to make a profit.

Thus, they are typically sold for hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. In rare cases, corporations will buy them for millions.

What Extension Should You Use?

If I have not made it abundantly clear at this point, the “.com” extension is the most popular option. When most people believe every website ends in “.com” it is important to actually end with it.

Not to mention that most sites that do not have “.com” are often perceived as shady or scammy by many internet users.

It is important to point out that your domain extension is nothing but cosmetic. It really doesn’t matter from an SEO perspective if you have a “.com” or “.net” as far as Google is concerned, thus there really is no downside to not using “.com”.

In 99% of cases, you want a “.com” extension. The 1% of cases where you do not use it are usually because it is not available.

Since domain names must be unique, someone may have already purchased that domain name. At that point, your only option is to buy the domain from that person, which can be expensive or just not possible.

Or, you can opt to use a different domain extension. This can save you money and allow you to keep your original name.

Domain Extension FAQs

Naturally, you still probably have a lot of questions related to domain extensions. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding them:

How early should I buy a domain name when starting a business?

The moment you have a name in mind, you should immediately buy that domain name. In fact, if you were struggling to select a domain name, you should check the availability of all the names you had in mind. If one were taken, that would be a good reason to not choose it.

Is it worth choosing a less popular domain extension to save money?

Generally speaking, no. At least in the case of buying from a registrar. Realistically, buying a domain name with the extension of your choice is rather inexpensive. That said, if you were buying a domain name directly from another person, you may want to consider it.

Should I buy all of the domain extensions for my domain name?

No. Only startup companies that have visions of becoming major corporations will ever purchase multiple domain extensions for their name. It is an extra expense that is not worth it for your standard blog or online store.

Can I create my own domain extension?

Yes, but it is a lot of work and expensive to do. You would have to work with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). The approval process for a new extension can take upwards of 2 years, so it is not quick or cheap to do.

Will domain extensions continue to increase in price?

Over the last few years, as the number of new websites has grown rapidly, so too has the price of domain names. Essentially, there is greater demand, so the price increases. There is no way to say for certain if prices will continue to grow or not, but most likely they will.

Will using a generic domain extension hurt my brand?

It could. Generally speaking, outside of the most popular extensions like “.com”, “.edu”, “.gov”, and a few others, most users will look at these as potential scams. Not many people will trust a site with an unorthodox domain extension, which can damage a brand.

Can I change my domain extension?

No. Once you choose a domain extension, you cannot change it. You would have to buy a new domain name and redirect the old one to it. Doing this will damage your SEO, so it is not recommended.

Are You Building a Website?

If you are interested in domain extensions, I think it is fair to assume you are also interested in building a website. And when it comes to starting a website, you are going to need a quality web hosting company, which is exactly what we offer at GreenGeeks.

When you sign up with GreenGeeks, we provide a free domain name and extension, thus, that’s one less cost to worry about. On top of this, you can purchase as many domain names from us as you would like.

We offer a variety of tutorials that can help you build your site with us, and our support team is waiting to assist you with any questions you may have, so be sure to reach out to us when you are ready to get building.

What domain extension were you considering? Do you think a “.com” extension is the best option?