What are a Top-Level Domains (TLD)? (Quick Guide)

Top-Level Domains

The last segment of a domain name — the component that comes after the final dot – is known as a TLD (top-level domain). The most common example is.com, but there are a plethora of other top-level domains (TLDs), which we’ll explore in this post.

We’ll talk about:

  • A more detailed description of what a TLD is
  • TLDs are divided into three categories.
  • Some minor points to consider, such as the purpose of TLDs and their SEO impact

What is TLD?

TLD stands for top-level domain. After the last dot, it’s the last segment of a domain name.

.com is an excellent example of a TDL.

TLDs are classified into three categories by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA):

  • Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLD)
  • Sponsored Top-Level Domain TLDs – (sTLD)
  • Country Code Top-Level Domains (ccTLDs) are domains that begin with a country code.

In the Domain Name System, your TLD is crucial (DNS).

301 redirect can be used to update the TDL of your WordPress site.

What is a top-level domain (TLD)? More Detailed Explanation

It’s helpful to look at the whole structure of your domain name to figure out what makes it the “top-level.” Any domain name is made up of a series of words, letters, or numbers that are joined by dots.

Each “dot” symbolizes a different segment and aids computers (such as a web browser) in locating relevant information. Furthermore, each segment represents a distinct “level.” You start at the top (thus the TLD) and work your way up in numbers. Returning to the URL of the F60 host dashboard, for example, you’d get:

  • .com is the top-level domain. 
  • Second-level f60 host
  • my – the third-level domain, also known as the subdomain in this case.

You might theoretically have even more levels however, you’ll rarely see it.

When you register a domain name with a domain registrar, you can choose both the second-level domain (for example, “F60 host”) and the top-level domain (for example, “.com”). Then you can add other levels (such as the third-level subdomain “my”) from your hosting panel.

Your TLD is vital in the Domain Name System, in addition to helping you brand your website (DNS).

TLDs are divided into three categories.

We’ve been referring to TLDs as a single unified category up until now. According to the IANA/ICANN, there are three different sorts of TLDs.

These three types of TLDs are officially recognised by the IANA:

  1. Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs)
  2. Sponsored Top-Level Domain (sTLD) TLDs are top-level domains.
  3. Country Code Top-Level Domains (ccTLDs)

The number of TLDs available used to be substantially smaller. However, because of recent policy revisions, there are now well over a thousand TLDs to choose from in each of these three categories, with the majority falling into the gTLD category.

1. Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs)

All of the most well-known TLDs are included in the gTLD category. This is the category where you’ll find options like:

  • .com
  • .org
  • .net

Aside from these well-known names, there are also some generic possibilities available, such as:

  • .xyz
  • .biz
  • .info

While the aim of these generic domains is supposed to be loosely related to the purpose of a website – for example,.org is for organizations – most of these domain names can be registered by anybody.

Around 2011, ICANN made it possible for businesses and organizations to register their own gTLDs, considerably expanding the number of available domain names and explaining why we now have gTLDs like:

  • .oldnavy
  • .google
  • .oracle
  • .mitsubishi

Organizations registered more “generic” specialty gTLDs, such as:

  • .mom 
  • .money 
  • .motorcycles 
  • .realestate 
  • .republican 
  • .democrat

gTLDs for specific geographical locations are also available. GeoTLDs are a subset of gTLDs and are occasionally referred to as such. Here are some illustrations:

Only inhabitants of New York City can register a.nyc domain.

  • .paris 
  • .berlin 
  • .istanbul

There were only 22 accessible gTLDs prior to this ICANN policy change. There are currently around 1,200 distinct gTLDs accessible as of the time of writing this piece. On the IANA website, you may see them all.

2. Sponsored Top-Level Domains (sTLDs)

The sTLD category includes TLDs that are sponsored by a single entity, such as a company, government, or other organization.

Here are a few of the most common examples:

  • .gov – for use by the United States government
  • .edu – for post-secondary institutions certified by the United States Department of Education
  • .mil – for use by the United States military.

You’ll also come across minor sTLDs like:

  • .museum – designated for museums.
  • .jobs – sponsored by the Society for Human Resource Management and reserved for human resource managers.
  • .post – sponsored by the Universal Postal Union.
  • .travel – reserved for travel companies and similar businesses.

In comparison to the large number of gTLDs, there are only 14 sTLDs available at the time of writing.

3. Country Code Top-Level Domains (ccTLDs)

ccTLDs (country-code top-level domains) are top-level domains that represent individual nations. The following is a partial list of common examples:

  • .us – United States of America.
  • .uk – United Kingdom
  • .eu – European Union
  • .de – Germany
  • .fr – France
  • .cn – China
  • .es – Spain
  • .ru – Russia
  • .ca – Canada
  • .nl – Netherlands
  • .in – India
  • .ch – Switzerland
  • .jp – Japan
  • .cn – China

There are 312 distinct ccTLDs in total. Some impose residency requirements in order to purchase a domain in that region, but others are open to the public and can be owned by anybody in the world.

This latter fact has led to several beautiful ccTLDs being used “off-label.” The .io TLD, for example, is very popular among tech enterprises and startups. Despite its tech-sounding name,.io is a ccTLD that belongs to British Indian Ocean Territory.

Note that we do not advocate obtaining a .io domain name at this time because there is a possibility that this TLD will be phased out.

Google can use ccTLDs to help geotarget your site, in addition to helping you notify human users what nation your website serves.

As a result, many large companies use ccTLDs to localize their websites for different markets. Consider the following example:

  • Amazon.com
  • Amazon.co.uk
  • Amazon.de Etc.

Don’t worry, Google has figured out that your.io domain name isn’t just for the Indian Ocean! In fact, Google has a list of ccTLDs that they treat as gccTLDs because they are often used for non-geographic reasons (Generic Country Code Top-Level Domain).

In addition to the.io domain, Google’s gccTLD list contains the following options:

  • .fm 
  • .me 
  • .tv 
  • .co

What is the Point of Having Multiple TLDs?

The overall notion is that having all of these distinct TLDs in your domain name can help you express information about your website.

Consider the case of WordPress, which is close and dear to our hearts.

There are two separate WordPress sites, which has always been a cause of consternation for new WordPress users. Each has its own TLD, which does a pretty decent job of describing what the site is about:

  • WordPress.com is the website for Automattic’s commercial, for-profit endeavor.
  • WordPress.org is the home of the open-source WordPress software, which is handled by the WordPress Foundation, a non-profit organization.

Things don’t always fit so perfectly in the actual world.

For example, despite the fact that .io is a ccTLD for British Indian Ocean Territory, we’ve already discussed how startups and IT companies use it.

Who is in charge of managing TLDs?

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is a non-profit organization that manages TLDs through the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA).

In other words, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) is a division of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

Furthermore, some TLDs are delegated by ICANN/IANA to other organizations

Is it important to Google which TLD you use? Does a TLD have an impact on SEO?

The quick answer is that the TLD you select has no bearing on SEO. Google, according to Matt Cutts, simply looks for the greatest content, independent of TLD.

That said, the TLD you select may have some indirect SEO implications. If you choose an unusual, unfamiliar TLD, for example, visitors may have problems remembering your site, resulting in fewer inbound links. In a study comparing top-level domains, GrowthBadger discovered that.com domains are 33 percent more remembered.

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Similarly, if you select an unknown TLD, visitors may be less likely to click on your site in the search results since it appears to be spammy, lowering your CTR.

In a survey of 1,000 people in the United Kingdom, for example, VARN discovered that 70% of respondents did not trust newer, lesser-known TLDs as much as popular TLDs like.co.uk.

So, unless you have a compelling reason to choose a lesser-known TLD, you should generally go with one of the more popular ones. That is why F60 host uses the a.com domain.

Is It Possible to Change the TLD of Your WordPress Site?

Yes, you can change your TLD by using a 301 redirect. This effectively redirects all traffic from your old TLD to your new TLD, as well as informing Google and other crawlers that the change is permanent.

However, we would advise against doing so if at all feasible, as it would almost certainly have a negative impact on your SEO and traffic, at least in the short term.

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Iftikhar Qureshi
Iftikhar Qureshi
IFTIKHAR is a Digital Blogger and SEO Specialist at F60 Host. Using his IT degree and expertise as a website operator, he hopes to share his knowledge with other IT geeks.