For beginners: what is a TLD (top level domain)?

SkyStra
Jun 28, 2019

A Top Level Domain (TLD) is the section with the letters in a website or domain name after the dot. Some of the common domains include .com, .org, .net. There are several categories of TLDs; the generic domains, and the specific country domain. In this article, we will discuss;

  • What are TLD’s?
  • Different categories of TLDs
  • Importance of TLDs and how they affect SEO

Definition of a TLD

TLD stands for Top Level Domain which is the last section in the domain name and it occurs after the dot. For example .com and .net.

A domain name can have words, letters or even numbers.

Categories of TLD

There are different categories of TLDs which are assigned and regulated by IANA/ICANN. They are as follows.

  • gTLD that stands for Generic Top Level Domain.
  • ccTLD that stands for Country Code Top Level Domains.
  • sTLD which stands for Sponsored Top Level Domains.

In the recent past, there have been changes in the policies governing TLDs which have seen an increase in the number of choices of TLDs. Most of the recent TLDs belong to the gTLD category.

1. gTLD – Generic Top Level Domain

Most of the domain names contain gTLD. Some of the common examples in this category are .com and .org.  However, there are other generic top-level domains such as .info, .name, .pro.  Organizations should register with the generic domain .org.

The role of ICANN is to keep a database of all the registered gTLDs, register new domain names and also ensure the security of the gTLD namespace. ICANN created more room to accommodate more gTLDs and that some niche has gTLDs such as .mom, .money and .democrat.

There are other gTLDs that are specific to certain areas. They are known as GeoTLDs which are part of gTLDs. They include;

  • .nyc
  • .paris
  • .berlin

2. sTLD – Sponsored Top Level Domain

The Sponsored Top Level Domain (sTLD) is sponsored by certain institutions such as business and agencies. Some of the sTLDs include;

  • .gov -They are used by the US government agencies
  • .edu– They are used by most educational institutions
  • .mil – They are used by the US military

However, there are other sTLDs that are in use. They include;

  • .tel – They are reserved for businesses and individual contacts.
  • .int – They are reserved for use by organizations created through international treaties.
  • .museum – Reserved for use by museums

Compared to the number of gTLDs, the sTLDs are very few.

3. ccTLD – Country Code Top Level Domain

Country Code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) has two letters. It is specific to a particular country. They are important when it comes to international SEO. The following are some of the ccTLDs.

  • .us – USA
  • .eu – European Union
  • .fr – France
  • .uk – United Kindom
  • .es – Spain
  • .in – India
  • .br – Brazil
  • .id – Indonesia
  • .ke – Kenya
  • .vn – Vietnam

Several ccTLDs have been registered. Some of them are restricted to certain areas, while others are open to the members of the public to register.

Besides, Google also recognizes other ccTLDs such as the Generic Country Code Top Level Domain (gccTLD). Some of them include .fm, .me and .co.

The Importance of Top Level Domains

TLDs helps website visitors know about the location of the website and its purpose. For example, when you see the .gov domain, you will automatically know that the content revolves around the government. On the other hand, .uk you will know that the content is about the United Kingdom. We offer many country specific domain name extensions.

TLDs are also used to differentiate between different websites. This happens when there is a common second level domain. For example, you can find a site with the URL skystra.com and another one with skystra.uk. The two are different websites because of TLDs.

Does the TLD Affect SEO?

It absolutely does! Google will always rank localized domain names prior to more generic ones. For example, if you are a business in Australia, Google will almost always rank a .com.au domain name before a generic .com.

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