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Domain Extensions: Should You Use a Non-traditional One?

For a very long time, websites really had only a couple of options when it came to domain extensions. The most popular, of course, was .com. Then there was .net. And if you were a non-profit, .org. For Canadians, .ca is predominant.

As the years have gone by, more and more of the best domain names were bought up, sometimes for legitimate purposes but also sometimes by people hoping to just sit on a domain name for a while and then sell it for a nice profit to someone who needs it. As a result of this, there was a demand for new domain extensions, in the same way that a new area code might be created when an existing code runs out of numbers and can’t keep up with demand.

To solve this, at first just a few new domain extensions were rolled out. Unfortunately, some of these (such as .biz), eventually got a reputation as “second-rate” domain extensions. Because they were quickly adopted by a shadier segment of the Internet, they began to have a strong correlation with spam and less legitimate sites.

Now, there are 100+ domain extensions, from .co and .ly to much more specific ones like .holiday or .deals. When this newest batch of domain extensions was rolled out a couple of years ago, it became clear that these were not just a new way for people to create spam websites, but that the whole field was being opened up for a more creative way to do domain names.

There has also been some worry that the new domain extensions may have a negative impact on SEO. This is unfounded—at the time all these new domain extensions came out, Google confirmed that they would not negatively affect SEO.

Decisions, decisions

Many business owners are tempted to go with one of these new domain extensions in order to get the perfect, short domain name. Here are some special considerations before you make your decision.

When you go with a .ca or .com domain name, you’ve got history on your side. Most people (and especially people who are not great at technology) will inherently trust a domain name ending in .ca/.com/.net/.org more than any other, and that trust could result in a very real impact on your bottom line. Domains ending with .com still account for almost 50% of all the domain names out there, which is a significant majority.

If you work in a conservative industry like finance, insurance, or law, we would probably suggest that you stick with a conventional domain extension.

If it’s important to you that your domain name is easy to remember, .com wins, because people will assume .com if they just know the domain and not the extension (or .ca in Canada). This could cost you some traffic if your domain extension is not the obvious one.

Or, you could have the best of both worlds. Purchase the best .ca/.com/.net/.org domain name you can come up with, and also the perfect non-traditional domain extension name. Run with both for a while, redirecting one to the other and vice versa. If you discover that your audience is ok with your non-traditional name, stick with that one, but you’ll always have the more traditional extension to fall back on if necessary.

Where Things Are Headed

It’s important to realize that, relatively speaking, the Internet is still in its early years. With that in mind, we think it’s pretty evident that new domain extensions will have to be adopted in order to find enough space for all the websites that are going to be popping up. In the same way that it would have been inconceivable for a new phone area code to have to be created a few decades ago, we now take multiple area codes to be the norm.

So, do not discount the possibility that a world with more varied domain extensions will exist one day. And if you can claim the perfect domain name now, such as happy.dog, maybe you should be on the forefront of the new domain movement.

Have a great idea for a domain you want to buy? CanSpace supports all the newest top level domain extensions. Check to see if it’s available and register it, here!

The CanSpace Team

CanSpace is Canada's leading domain name registrar and hosting provider. Keep an eye on our blog for expert information around websites and running a business online.

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