It’s easy to overlook the importance of choosing a suitable top-level domain for your next business venture or personal website. While domain names tend to be the primary focus, that suffix after the final full stop in a URL speaks volumes about everything from professionalism and industry to location and authenticity. As a result, choosing between valuable TLDs and damaging ones is a decision which shouldn’t be left until your mouse is hovering over the “buy now” button on the UK2.NET website.
However, to people unfamiliar with this industry, it’s often hard to understand why some TLDs are coveted while others are controversial. It’s easy to forget that some domains have been around for decades while others are new and unproven, or the province of people whose intentions are by no means honourable. These are five of the best top-level domains you can buy, followed by five you should avoid at all costs – with explanations for why some are more valuable TLDs than others…
Worth seeking out
The original top-level domain first used to register websites in 1985 and by far the most trusted TLD in existence. A .com domain is universal shorthand for company, commanding uniquely high prices before this decade’s mass TLD releases.
The UK is unusual in having a second-level domain at the heart of most web addresses. The .uk domain is our country-code TLD, like France’s .fr and Ireland’s .ie. It signifies a British presence, while co.uk indicates a British business.
If your next business venture is in any way academic, it’s worth considering a .ac domain. Dedicated academic domains are valuable TLDs in the eyes of Google and Bing, denoting a site of authority and thus scoring highly in search results.
Initially intended for an organisation, .org has also been in existence since 1985. That makes it a trusted and familiar sight to audiences browsing search results – who are psychologically unwilling to visit a site with a new, strange or obscure TLD.
The floodgates of new TLDs only opened five years ago, and it often takes a decade for new domains to achieve mainstream acceptance. While .biz is newer than other entries on this list, its 2001 origins place it among the more valuable TLDs.
Avoid at all costs
An astonishing 99.95 per cent of websites with .country addresses are believed to contain some form of malware, from spyware to harmful redirects. If you’re planning to launch a country music website, stick to .com or .biz.
Threat intelligence specialists Spamhaus placed .world at the top of their most recent list of abused top-level domains, with a peerless Badness Index of 6.36. This specifically relates to spam and related activities, rather than wider malware issues.
It may seem harsh to list on Cameroon’s ccTLD in this list, but disreputable individuals often launch malware-laden websites with similar names to legitimate sites (minus the middle ‘o’) to ensnare victims. Facebook.cm is a classic example.
Launched as a sponsored TLD in 2011 by the obliquely named International Foundation for Online Responsibility, .xxx domains are almost all pornographic. Unless your new site has a similar focus, this is one TLD which is best avoided.
You might assume a domain ending in .review would be genuine – even noble – in intent, but that’s not the case. The .review domain has been found at the top of dubious TLD lists, with no attempt at preventing rogue domains from operating.