Have you come across the words “Top Level Domain” and wondered what that means? For those looking into setting up a new website, it can be easy to get lost in all the jargon and terminology of the web design world. Top Level Domain is one of those expressions that many struggle to understand.

What is a Top Level Domain? 

Wikipedia defines it as “one of the domains at the highest level in the hierarchical Domain Name System of the Internet”. It is actually a lot easier than that. A Top Level Domain, simply put, refers to all the common domain endings. For example, if you look at www.hubspider.com, “.com” is the Top Level Domain. There are many Top level Domains, and they are categorised according to their most common use or intention. The most famous ones are known as general Top Level Domains (gTLDs) and country code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs).

What is the Difference Between a general and a country code Top Level Domain?

A general Top level Domain is one that is intended for general use, such as .com or .net. Domains with these endings are not necessarily specific to one topic, field, or geographic region and are therefore considered to be ‘general’. A country code Top Level Domain is a domain that can be general in terms of field and topic, but is relevant to a specific region, such as .de, .es and .co.uk. It is important to note that a ccTLD can still be used by anyone, anywhere and usually refers more to the country of operation or interest,

Should I choose a general or a country code Top Level Domain?

This can depend on a number of factors. Generally, if you are a local business or simply looking to operate in one country, a country code Top Level Domain can be right for you. Often you will have more available domain names at your disposal and it can boost your rankings in the search engines for searches from your country. Furthermore, ccTLDs are still recognised on an international level, especially from big countries such as .co.uk, .de, .es and .fr.

On the other hand, if you are looking to create a brand or have an international presence, you might want to opt for a general Top Level Domain such as .com, .net or .org, so as not to tie yourself to one country. Whilst in some fields it might be better to have a country-relevant Top Level Domain, in certain others, it could be better to opt for a gTLD.

Choosing the right Top Level Domain can be tough, but it is an important choice to make and one that can strongly influence the success of your site, be it through search engine optimization or branding. Focus on your business’ needs and choose wisely.

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