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Alternative Domain Extensions: What to Do When .COM is Taken

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This article was originally published on Sep 26, 2016. It was updated on June 9, 2021.

Key Takeaways

  • Consider the less traditional TLDs like .shop or .consulting. Unique URLs always stand out and has great recall.
  • Discover new and upcoming TLDs that are relevant to your business. There are are always new ones popping up.
  • Check out country-specific or city-based TLDs. It's a chance to delve more into your local market.
  • However, be careful with using new TLDs as people are inclined to trust traditional domain name extensions and associate less traditional ones with spam.

If you’ve tried to register a domain name for a business or product recently, you know how competitive it can be. There’s nothing more frustrating than coming up with the perfect name for your new business, only to find that the business name isn’t available as a domain because somebody else got there first. Trying a variation on your name can work, but sometimes even the variations you want aren’t available. What can you do?

1.    Try using an alternative domain extension.

Domain extensions are also known as top-level domains, or TLDs for short. The .com TLD, while by far the most popular for businesses, isn’t the only option out there. Currently, some of the most popular domain extensions that can work for a for-profit business include .net, .expert, .company, and .guru. Does your company do business worldwide (for example, an eCommerce website that sells products globally)? Then try the .global extension.

However, be cautious with using alternative doman extensions as some online vistors associate a number of them with spam. If you're interested in knowing people's perception of other TLDs, take a look at this study that shows .co comes in right behind .com, followed by .org and .us in terms of trust factor.

2.    Check out new .TLDs. Tons get added all the time.

In addition to these alternative domain extensions, new ones are being added as we speak. In 2021, they just released .spa, .basketball and .rugby, though with limited registration restrictions. Imagine the fun and creativity your customers will credit you for when you launch with a URL address that’s radically new but is still uniquely relevant to your industry. According to the Root Zone Database of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA.org), as of January 14, 2020, there were 1578 TLDs of all types without counting the ones listed as "retired" and "test". Check out a TLD launch schedule so you’re more familiar with the tons of domain name extensions you can choose from.

As we've mentioned earlier, practice caution on choosing your new TLD. You can refer to the Spamhaus' list of TLDs with the worst reputations before locking in your domain name so that you don't get a bad rep online.

3.    Drill down into industry-specific domain extensions.

If you sell auto parts and accessories or own an automotive repair shop, consider .auto or .car. Do you provide tutoring services to students? Then the .academy extension might work for your business. A CPA could use .accountant or .accountants, and a consultant could use .consulting. This type of domain extension also helps prospective customers quickly identify what your business does, which is especially helpful if your business name doesn’t spell that out. For instance, www.davidson.consulting is immediately clear, as compared to www.davidson.com.

4.    Try out country-specific domain extensions 

A country code top-level domain (ccTLD) is an top-level domain generally used for a country or territory identified with a country code. Having a .us.com. ccTLD is useful if you sell products globally, but want people to know you’re based in the U.S. American-made products have a lot of cachet overseas, so the country-specific domain extension can be a real selling point for website visitors. You can also register a country-specific domain name for the countries you primarily sell to. For example, if most of your eCommerce business customers are in Canada, registering a .ca domain extension will help you develop a website with a Canadian flavor tailored to those customers. Country-specific domain names help to protect your brand overseas, too.

Customers also seem to trust eCommerce sites that have country-specific domain names when shopping. Using ccTLDs can improve buyer confidence since it assures them of the availability of goods or services in a specific location. 

5.    Get more local support with city-based domain extensions

Believe it or not, .nyc  is one of the most popular domain extensions in the Internet. If your business relies on a local customer base, using this type of extension can actually give you a boost in search results if people in that city are searching for your type of business. Aside from improving the quality of search, having a city-based TLD can also encourage individuals to act locally. It’s a chance for small to medium enterprises (SME) to promote camaraderie and community spirit. Furthermore, it signals that you are a local business, thus, making potential buyers feel as if it is easier to make a purchase from you. City-based TLDs offer high value, top quality and genuine identity online.

If I already have a .COM, should I consider other domain name extensions?

Even if you’ve been in business for a while and already have a .com domain, it’s a good idea to purchase alternative domain extensions for your business name. Domain experts actually recommend purchasing multiple extensions! By claiming as many domains associated with your brand as possible, you not only ensure that your customers find you easily online, you also help protect your brand and its reputation from domain trolls and cybersquatters.

With more than one domain, you can use web forwarding to point your visitors to other online destinations associated with your business, such as social media accounts. This broadens your web presence and gives your customers more opportunity to explore your business.

If you need help finding similar domain matches for your current domain name, you can try out our free website grader tool and it will automatically churn out similar domain names that will benefit your brand online. Not only that, you get a full report on how your website is working for you. If you need more help evaluating the free report generated for your business, you can always call the Web.com support team at 800-862-8921and they will be more than happy to help you with your domain questions.

Conclusion

There are a gazillion ways to get your brand name to stand out in the Internet—and having a unique and smart domain name extension can be one of them. Sure, everyone trusts a .com, but you’ll be sure to turn heads (and get mouse clicks!) when you have a catchy and unforgettable URL. So, don’t fret if your domain name’s .com version is no longer. That setback just opened a whole new world of online opportunities for you!

Author information

Maria Valdez Haubrich

Maria Valdez Haubrich is Chief Liaison Officer of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her company’s blog at SmallBizDaily.com.