You must have seen lots of different Top Level Domains TLDs while surfing the internet, like: .com, .biz, .net, .io, .tech, and much more. You may know them as domain extensions.
Those domain extensions/ TLDs help the visitor understand what your website is about. For example, .app tells the customer that your business is an application, .edu tells people you are an educational institution, and .io domains usually tell people you are a tech startup. And so on.
Knowing the difference between those TLDs and what they stand for is very important when you choose your domain name.
What is Top-Level Domain (TLD)?
A top-level domain (TLD) is the part of a domain name that comes after the “dot” and identifies the type of organization or purpose of the website. For example, in the domain name in ae.godaddy.com the .com is the “.com” is the TLD.
Types of Top Level Domains TLDs:
There are several types of top-level domain names, including:
- gTLD – Generic Top-Level Domains
- sTLD – Sponsored Top-Level Domains
- ccTLD – Country Code Top-Level Domains
- Infrastructure TR
- eserved Top-Level Domains
Let’s get into them:
(1) gTLDs – Generic top-level domains
gTLDs are the most common type of TLD and are not specific to any particular country or organization.
Examples of gTLDs include:
- “.com” for commercial websites
- “.org” for organizations
- “.net” for network-related websites.
(2) sTLD – Sponsored top-level domains
sTLDs are sponsored by a specific organization or community and are intended for a particular purpose.
Examples of sTLDs include:
- “.edu” for educational institutions
- “.gov” for government agencies
- “.mil” for military organizations.
(3) ccTLD – Country code top-level domains
ccTLDs are two-letter TLDs that represent a specific country or territory.
The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), which is run by ICANN, is in charge of picking appropriate organizations in each location to manage ccTLDs.
Examples of ccTLDs include:
- “.uk” for the United Kingdom
- “.jp” for Japan
- “.cn” for China.
(4) Infrastructure top-level domains
Infrastructure top-level domains are used for technical purposes and are not intended for general use.
Examples of infrastructure TLDs include:
- “.arpa” for infrastructure purposes
- “.int” for international organizations.
(5) Reserved top-level domains
Reserved top-level domains are not used for general registration and are reserved for specific purposes.
Examples of reserved TLDs include:
- “.example” for use in documentation
- “.localhost” for use in testing.
(6) Internationalized Domain Name IDNs:
Internationalized domain names are domains with non-Latin character sets (e.g., Arabic, Cyrillic, Greek, Hebrew, or Chinese).
Did you know that there is an Arabic new gTLD/new domain extension? well, “.شبكة” the first Arabic gTLD. It went live in February 2014 and translates literally into .web. It falls under Internationalized Domain Name.
Most Popular TLD List
We learned the most common Top-level domains above, but those are a drop in the ocean. IANA updates the TLDs list on regular basis and you can view the list which has all the new tlds at any time from here.
The most popular TLDs are:
How do TLDs Work?
From a technical perspective, top-level domains (TLDs) are a part of the Domain Name System (DNS), which is a hierarchical decentralized naming system for computers, services, or other resources connected to the Internet or a private network. The DNS is responsible for translating human-readable domain names into numerical IP web addresses that computers can understand and use to communicate with each other.
TLDs are the highest level in the DNS hierarchy and are used to identify the type of organization or purpose of a domain. For example, a website with a “.com” TLD is typically a commercial website, while a website with a “.gov” TLD is typically a government website.
Note: Large corporations with regional sites that operate independently. In these cases, domain extensions serve the same purpose as a subdomain.
Purpose of Having a TLD
The purpose of TLDs is to provide a standardized and organized way to identify and locate resources on the Internet. Without TLDs, it would be much more difficult for users to find and access specific websites or online resources. TLDs also help to prevent confusion and make it easier for users to remember and identify domain names.
There are currently over 1,500 TLDs available, including both generic TLDs (gTLDs) and country code TLDs (ccTLDs). The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is responsible for coordinating the assignment and maintenance of TLDs.
Which TLDs are Restricted for use?
Some top-level domains (TLDs) are restricted for use and may only be registered and used by specific organizations or for specific purposes. For example, the “.gov” TLD is restricted for use by government agencies, and the “.edu” TLD is restricted for use by educational institutions.
Reserved DNS Names
Reserved DNS names are domain names that are not available for general registration and are reserved for specific purposes. These domain names may be reserved at the top-level domain (TLD) level or at the second-level domain (SLD) level.
Examples of reserved TLDs include “.example”, which is reserved for use in documentation, and “.localhost“, which is reserved for use in testing.
Examples of reserved SLDs include “test”, which is reserved for use in testing, and “invalid”, which is reserved for use in invalid or improperly formatted domain names.
Restricted domains are domain names that are not available for registration or use because they are reserved for specific purposes or are prohibited by law. These domain names may be reserved at the TLD level or at the SLD level.
Examples of restricted TLDs include “.onion”, which is reserved for use with the anonymous Onion routing network, and “.local”, which is reserved for use in private networks.
Examples of restricted SLDs include “example”, which is reserved for use in documentation, and “localhost“, which is reserved for use in testing.
Frequently Asked Questions FAQs:
Some answers to your Frequently Asked Questions:
What are the 4 common top-level domains?
The four most common top-level domains (TLDs) are:
- .com – The “.com” TLD is the most popular and widely used TLD, and it is intended for commercial websites. From an eligibility perspective, anyone can register a .com domain.
- .net – The “.net” TLD is intended for network-related websites, such as Internet service providers and hosting companies.
- .org – The “.org” TLD is intended for non-profit organizations, charities, and advocacy groups.
- .gov – The “.gov” TLD is restricted for use by government agencies and is intended for official government websites.
These four TLDs are known as generic top-level domains (gTLDs) and are not specific to any particular country or region. There are also many other gTLDs available, as well as country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) that are specific to a particular country or territory.
What is top and second level domain?
A top-level domain (TLD) is the part of a domain name that comes after the “dot” and identifies the type of organization or purpose of the website. For example, in the domain name “ae.godaddy.com“, the TLD is “com”.
A second-level domain (SLD) is the part of a domain name that comes before the TLD and identifies the specific organization or individual that owns the domain. In the domain name “ae.godaddy.com“, the SLD is “godaddy”.
The combination of a TLD and SLD forms a complete domain name, which can be used to locate and access a website or other online resource. For example, the domain name “ae.godaddy.com” can be used to access the GoDaddy website.
The TLD and SLD are important components of the Domain Name System (DNS), which is a hierarchical decentralized naming system for computers, services, or other resources connected to the Internet or a private network. The DNS is responsible for translating human-readable domain names into numerical IP addresses that computers can understand and use to communicate with each other.
Why do we use top-level domain?
Top-level domains (TLDs) are used for several reasons, including:
- To identify the type of organization or purpose of a domain: TLDs provide a standardized way to identify the type of organization or purpose of a domain. For example, a website with a “.com” TLD is typically a commercial website, while a website with a “.gov” TLD is typically a government website.
- To prevent confusion and make it easier to remember domain names: TLDs help to prevent confusion and make it easier for users to remember and identify domain names. For example, it is easier to remember “com” than a series of random numbers or letters.
- To facilitate the organization of the Internet: TLDs help to organize the Internet by grouping similar types of websites together and making it easier to locate specific types of resources.
- To enable the use of domain names in different languages: TLDs can be used with different scripts and languages, which allows users to use domain names in their own language. This makes it easier for users to find and access websites and resources in their own language.
Overall, TLDs are an important part of the Domain Name System (DNS) and play a crucial role in enabling users to easily locate and access websites and online resources.
Fun Fact: Google’s search algorithm has been updated so that domains that do not use a main TLD are not ranked lower for that reason. You don’t need to worry about your SEO rankings on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) being affected by this newer gTLD.