Which TLD is right for me?
With the volume and variety of TLDs (Top-Level Domains) available to individuals or companies today, I am convinced that most registrants are overwhelmed by selecting the right set of TLDs that they need. "Which TLD is right for me?" is a simple question, but it is a hard question to answer properly.
Just doing a quick review of gTLDs (generic Top-Level Domains) overseen by ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), ccTLDs (country-code Top-Level Domains), and hybrid ccTLDs marketing themselves as gTLDs, it's clear to see where people can get confused. The first step in answering the question, "Which TLD is right for me?", must begin with understanding the intended purpose and scope of each TLD. I am providing a quick summary of the most important TLDs to get readers of the blog off on the right footing:
.asia - "From ASIA - for ASIA". Introduced in 2007.
.biz - For businesses. Introduced in 2001.
.com - For everyone, though intended for commercial registrants. Introduced in 1985.
.info - For everyone and as a general purpose TLD. Introduced in 2001.
.mobi - For Mobile content on phones and PDAs. Introduced in 2005.
.name - For individuals and personal information. Introduced in 2001.
.net - For everyone, though intended for network providers. Introduced in 1985.
.org - For everyone, though intended for organizations and not-for-profits. Introduced in 1985
ccTLDs: Two-letter Top-Level Domains designated for a particular country or autonomous territory to facilitate communication and service within the intended community.
.DE - Deutschland (Germany, managed by DENIC e.G.)
.UK - United Kingdom (managed by Nominet)
.BE - Belgium (managed by DNS .BE)
.CN - China (managed by CNNIC)
.CA - Canada (managed by CIRA)
.US - United States of America (managed by NeuStar)
The entire list can be viewed under IANA.
ccTLDs being marketed differently than as a regular ccTLD:
.WS (ccTLD of Western Samoa) is currently being marketed as an extension for a WebSite.
.TV (ccTLD of Tuvalu) is being marketed for online and television media.
.ME (ccTLD of Montenegro) is being marketed as a personal domain for individuals including call-to-action domains such as lookat.me, chatwith.me, buy.me, sell.me, etc.
Now that we all understand the intended purpose for each TLD, the next step in building the right domain portfolio is asking yourself the standard WHO, WHAT and WHEN:
WHO do you want to reach? WHO is your target group?
A. Local users only - a ccTLD would obviously be your first choice unless you live in the United States where .com is generally still more popular than a .US.
B. Local users mainly and lightly servicing your global region (North America, Asia, Europe) - a ccTLD plus .com (possibly .net and .info also) with strong consideration for .asia or .eu if you are servicing those areas.
C. International users - a ccTLD and a set of gTLDs to protect your brand (.com, .net, .info and .org) plus, possibly, .biz, .asia, and .eu for extra brand defense.
D. Friends and family only - .info or .me or both are good choices.
WHAT is the purpose of the domain?
A. Personal Use - .info or .me are best for pictures of family, friends, weddings, newborns, or communicating with close relations.
B. Blogging - .info and .com are best suited for sharing your thoughts or to stimulate online discussions.
C. Commercial - follow the instructions for WHO mentioned above.
D. Domain Speculation and Traffic Monetization - any TLD, especially new TLDs like .me or the upcoming .tel. The king of all domains, however, is still .com. As .com's name space is being exhausted, good domains become harder to find as well as increase in value.
WHEN is it best to register the domains you want?
It is best to register all the TLDs recommended above today for one year and let the traffic dictate which ones you drop or renew. With the growing number of domain opportunists and new businesses being created, the cost of purchasing or recovering a lost domain is extremely costly and time consuming, if not impossible at times.