TLDs – List of Top Level
Domain Name Extensions
Written by Jamie Spencer – Updated 1st May 2023
Imagine the internet as a sprawling city. The streets? Those are your top-level domains (TLDs). But what are these digital pathways, and why do we use them?
Well, domain names and domain registration are an integral parts in the domain name system (DNS) infrastructure.
Where a URL that includes an IP address would work just fine for your computer to identify a particular
location on the web, its coded numbers are much more difficult for people to remember.
Consequently, domain names have become the primary means of identifying a web site. Top level domains (TLDs) play an important role in the naming functions associated with the DNS infrastructure.
In my guide, I will examine TLDs in greater detail in order to provide a complete understanding of their function and purpose. I’m going to break down what top-level domain name extensions are and why they’re integral to our digital experiences.
What are gTLDs?
Generic Top level domains are the hierarchal pinnacle of the DNS system. A fully-qualified domain name will include it as the final label of the domain in all lower-level domains. TLDs are an integral part of what is considered the root zone of the domain. The URL to a particular page might be:
In this URL, the root zone is:
And the top level domain is:
From this example, you can quickly deduce that there are a wide variety of TLDs available. Some of the common ones include: .org, .net, .gov, .edu, .biz, .info, etc.
Is There Any Benefits To A Website’s Search Engine Optimization?
This question gets asked a lot at SEO conferences and forums, especially as new TLDs are released month by month. The fact is that Google treats these new domains no differently to any other TLD. Using one of these new TLDs will not effect your SEO efforts positively or negatively. Ranking your site in Google’s search engine index takes time and effort. A domain name on its own will not determine a sites success within the search engine result pages.
Where To Buy gTLDs – My List Of The Top FIVE domain registrars…
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Should You Use a New TLD for Your Website?
When you’re creating your website, choosing the right web address is a big decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. This is a name that’s going to represent your brand and follow you around the web. While most people apply most of their creative effort into finding the right name, the extension holds just as much weight.
Called a top-level domain, the extension is those few letters tacked onto the end of your web address. The most common TLDs are old classics like .com, .net, .org, and more. However, as of 2014, new TLDs have become available. New TLDs are very unique to standard options and basic country codes. They’re often comprised of more letters and represent a specific industry or vibe.
New TLDs were created to expand the growing domain system while making it easier to produce an innovative and consumer-friendly digital space. With all that being said, should you use a TLD for your website? Well, the answer to that question depends entirely on your needs.
The Pros and Cons of Using a TLD
New TLDs are not one-size-fits-all kind of extensions. They’re highly specialized. As a result, new TLDs are not for everyone. Whether you own a large corporation, a small digital retail store, or a personal blog, it’s important to consider the advantages and disadvantages of a new top-level domain before you commit. Here are some things to consider.
Trust in the Eyes of Web Users
One of the biggest hurdles that new TLDs are currently experiencing is how they’re viewed by people that browse the web. In the past, only a small selection of generic domain extensions was available. Those same domains are still being used today. While new TLDs are growing in popularity, the old domains we’re used to seeing are still much more prevalent.
Many surveys have shown that people tend to trust older generic domains more than new ones. They’re more inclined to visit .com, .gov, and .org sites because they view these domains as authentic and trustworthy. This is especially true if the website pertains to banking, large corporate sites, or any website that handles personal data.
If you fall into one of those categories, you may want to avoid using a new top-level domain, at least for the time being. Generic extensions are viewed as more trustworthy simply because it’s what people see on a regular basis. Of course, anyone who has any experience building a website knows that there are no special requirements to get a generic domain. Unfortunately, the average web user doesn’t. As new TLDs are utilized, they’ll gain more exposure and more people will get comfortable with them. Many large companies, such as Google, have already started to adopt quirkier extensions, so this process is well on its way.
Appeal to Youth Culture
If you’re on the fence about using a new TLD, think about your target audience and what your website has to offer. If you serve a younger demographic, a new top-level domain can be used to your advantage. Younger folks tend to be more tech-savvy and have a better understanding of how the Internet works.
While new TLDs are often viewed as less trustworthy to web users when it comes to banking and personal data, they have a completely opposite effect in many other industries.
New TLDs are great for companies that rely less on authority and more on appearance. This applies to clothing brands, art websites, digital magazines, entertainment, and pretty much anything catered to younger audiences. Younger Internet users respond more to unique extensions that stick out.
Options like .wtf, .wow, .hot, and so much more can be used to capture the attention of a generation that grew up using the web. If your digital space meets the criteria, you may want to consider adopting a new TLD.
A new TLD is exciting and unique enough to stand out on its own. However, there are ways to take things a step further. One of the biggest benefits of a new TLD is that they can become a huge part of your overall brand identity. Generic extensions are simply another part of your web address. New TLDs are so much more. There are thousands of domain extension available, so you can easily find an option that matches your company.
Many businesses and Internet entrepreneurs utilize their TLD as part of their image and advertising. It stands out from a sea of generic web addresses, so why not use a TLD as a marketing tool to help your business grow? You can even use new TLDs with domain hacking to create memorable addresses that will set you apart from the competition.
Lower Price Point
Another big perk of using a new TLD is cost. Legacy domains tend to be quite pricey. Not only that, but they’ve been around for so long that it can be difficult to even find your desired domain. Depending on your website’s name, you may have to pay several thousands of dollars just to get a .com site.
New top-level domains, however, are very affordable. Many can be registered for just a few bucks a year. Including new TLDs into your domain search can help you cut back on operating and startup costs tremendously. So, it’s worth the consideration. Of course, the state of TLDs and Internet technology are constantly changing. Prices can go up as new TLDs become more mainstream. If you’re thinking about investing in a new TLD, register your domain before it’s snatched up!
Are New TLDs Right For You?
These are just a few things that you should be thinking about when you’re choosing a domain. New top-level domains aren’t going to benefit every website out there. Those that can utilize a unique extension, however, can use them to create a truly memorable digital space. To determine if a new TLD is right for you and your site’s needs, simply think about your audience, your branding, and what you have to offer the world at large. If you’re not quite ready to jump on the new TLD bandwagon, don’t fret. The Internet landscape is changing, so it won’t be long until new TLDs are more widespread and trusted.
What are the 5 most popular Generic Top Level Domain extensions?
The most common domain extension by far is the .com. The .com extension is the daddy of them all. However, .com isn’t the only popular top-level domain out there on the web. There are now hundreds of domain extensions out there available to buy from domain registrars. Domain registration is incredibly easy and can take less than 2 minutes to complete.
The most common types of gTLDs are as follows.
- .com (commercial)
- .net (network)
- org (organization)
- .us (United States)
- .co (Colombia)
In the top 5 most common domain extensions are ones reserved for a specific use. The .com domain can literally be used by anyone, but some top-level domains are restricted to certain people, governments and educational institutions, such as:
- .int (international)
- .mil (military)
- .edu (education)
- .gov (government)
New Domain Extensions (gTLDs) Available
Recently, many new gTLDs have been created and made available to buy since the original set of extensions were produced. The idea behind them was to create more opportunities for people to create their own unique presence on the internet and to take pressure off of the original set of domain extensions.
Some of these new gTLDs were created to serve both a broad use worldwide, and to go niche on special interest groups, such as .ninja, .design, .kitchen and many many more.
Here are a few more examples of new domain extensions ( gTLDs ) available to buy.
The full list of TLDs is just too long to include on this page, but you can head over to NameCheap to see all the available TLDs.
History of Top Level Domains
When the SNS system was first established, TLD domain space was separated into three groups, including:
At that time there was only a single temporary group, .arpa. The .arpa temporary TLD was created to facilitate transitions in the stabilization of the DNS system.
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) was developed to take over the responsibilities to overseeing the establishment of DNS root registries from the National Information Center (InterNIC).
One of their functions was the establishment of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA).
The main function of IANA is to “oversee global IP address allocation, autonomous system number allocation, root zone management in the Domain Name System (DNS), media types, and other Internet Protocol-related symbols and Internet numbers,” according to WikiPedia.
The number of TLDs recognized by IANA has grown significantly since its establishment.
Various Groups and Types of TLDs
There are various groups and types of TLDs that have been created by IANA in order to categorize various functions and organizational structures on the internet. Though the list continues to grow, we’ll take a brief look at each of the most common top-level domains that are in use today.
There is a single top-level domain included in this group. That TLD is .arpa, which is the original transitional TLD set up for DNS stabilization. It is maintained by IANA for the same purpose today.
Country Code and Internationalized Country Code TLDs (ccTLDs)
Of the original groups of TLDs that were established, country code top-level domains (ccTLD) are still in existence. They were established as a two-letter code based on their ISO 3166 code, which was set up to identify various countries and the principal subdivisions within them.
You probably recognize the following TLDs: .uk, .co.uk, .au, .nz, .mx, .se, or .us. Then there are the ones you wouldn’t think would have a country code like .to domain (Tonga), .ai domain (Anguilla), .gg domain (Guernsey)
ccTLDs have also been internationalized so that individuals in countries that do not utilize Latin characters can more easily recognize the country codes in the TLDs. Country codes can include, Arabic, Cyrillic, Hebrew or Chinese characters, for example, instead of the common Latin characters more recognizable to English speakers.
Slightly different to country code TLDS, the geographic TLDs focus on geographical areas of the globe rather than specific countries. Examples of these new domain name extensions are as follows:
Generic TLDs ( GTLDs )
Originally labeled as categories in the historical establishment of TLDs, generic top-level domains contain the most recognizable list of TLDs. All generic TLDs must consist of a minimum of three characters or letters. The first generic TLDs consisted of .com, .net, .org, .edu, .gov, .int (international) and .mil, and have obvious connections to their purpose built into their three letter code. Additional generic TLDs have been added, including some you might recognize:
• .app used for apps.
• .info used to provide information.
• .estate used for real estate companies and associations.
• .biz used by businesses.
• .global with an obvious international association.
• .host for networking companies.
• .tel used by internet and telecommunications companies.
The list of generic TLDs registered by IANA is exhaustive. It is in a state of continuous growth as organizations look for new ways to compete in the global marketplace and work to create the most recognizable and memorable domain names possible.
Reserved or Restricted TLDs
Reserved or restricted top-level domains create another distinctive group of TLDs. Some examples of reserved or restricted TLDs include:
• .test is reserved for testing purposes.
• .localhost is reserved in order to avoid conflicts when using localhost as a hostname.
• .invalid is utilized to indicate that a domain name is invalid.
• .example is reserved so that it can be used in examples; like the one used above.
• .local is reserved by RFC 6762 for resolving link-local hostnames in DNS protocols.
• .onion is reserved by RFC 7686 as a self-authenticating hostname utilized by Tor. These domain names are utilized to protect user anonymity in the onion-routing system operated by Tor.
These domains serve a specific purpose in the functionality of the internet. Management of these TLDs is handled through official ICANN accredited registrars.
In general, sponsored top-level domains tend to be generic TLDs that are proposed and sponsored by a specific community. Each sponsored TLD is specialized to involved individuals or organizations that are based on ethnic, geographical, professional, technical or other themed concepts. They are most often proposed by organizations or private agencies, which also establish and enforce eligibility and usage rules who register to use their TLD. The most common examples of sponsored TLDs include .gov, .mil, .int, and .edu. Additional sponsored TLDs you might recognize include .tel, .xxx, .museum, .app, and .aero.
The list of top-level domains has continued to grow since the development of the DNS protocol. Many of the TLDs proposed have already been accepted, such as .aero, .biz, .coop, .info, .museum, .name, and .pro, which were proposed in late 2000. Before the acceptance of those proposed TLDs, there was a push to distinguish pornographic or obscene materials using either .xxx, .sex, or .adult, but no top-level domain was established until .xxx went live in 2011. Proposals were also made for .arts, .firm, .nom, and .rec, but IANA felt most of these were covered by existing TLDs. The largest jump in the acceptance of proposed TLDs occurred after an announcement by ICANN in 2012 that they would be adding new generic TLDs to their registered list from more than 2,000 applications. Installation of these new TLDs took place throughout 2013.
As of May 2023, according to the IANA, there are 1479 TLSs in use around the world.
There have also been some TLDs, which existed historically but are no longer in use. One notable top-level domain was the one established by InterNIC for NATO, which was quite obviously .nato. Not long after .nato was established, InterNIC created .int for international organizations in general. NATO was persuaded to use nato.int. After 1996, .nato was removed from the registry.
Most of the historical changes to TLDs have come about in the area of country codes as the names and identities of various nations have evolved. Here are some of the changes that have come about:
• .cs was changed when Czechoslovakia became the Czech Republic .cz and Slovak Republic .sk
• .dd used in East Germany became .de under unified Germany
• .yu was used for SFR Yugoslavia until the country was divided into Bosnia and Herzegovina .ba, Croatia .hr, Montenegro .me, Macedonia .mk, Serbia .rs, Slovenia .si.
• .zr was used for Zaire but was changed to .cd when the country became the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Also of note is the fact that Russian still maintains the .su country code in spite of the demise of the Soviet Union for which it was created.
There are specialized domain labels that are often used by networks but are not specifically registered as top-level domains. Initially, several networks with widespread among computer professionals and academic users had established codes that were very similar to TLDs. These network names were BITNET, CSNET and UUCP and utilized corresponding suffixes in their domains, but the labels bitnet, oz, csnet, and uucp were never officially TLDs in the public DNS infrastructure. Most of these pseudo-domains have become historical relics though uucp is sometimes seen.
What are the 5 most common domain extensions?
Here are five of the most popular domain extensions…
Top-level domains are an integral part of the DNS infrastructure. They are used in the creation of the root address for domain names. Changes made by ICANN and IANA throughout the development of DNS have allowed for more specific and memorable recognition for various types of organizations and specialized groups. As web developers work to create distinctive branding through domain names, the list has grown and continues to grow. With the knowledge you have gained through our guide, you will be better able to recognize what you’re looking at when you see a strange TLD attached to a website or make use of TLDs that more clearly identify your brand niche or organizational objectives.