As my experience trying to buy bitedge.com shows, and common sense tells us, Webmasters’ outdated obsession with needing a .com domain is unsustainable and coming to an end.
Of the hundreds of top-level domains (TLD) that are alternatives to .com .net and .org only 5 have gained traction and popular use by respected brands and major websites in a way that is not country-specific, they are;
Because the domains bitedge.com and bitedge.net were not available and I did not want to pretend to be a .org, I was left to choose between these 5. If you want a short pronounceable domain with meaning you will probably be in the same situation so here are some things to consider.
Shorter is better
Shorter is better for so many reasons, both display and SEO. Shorter domains are;
- Easier to type.
- Take up less space on display advertising and business cards.
- Allow you to set your domain as your user name on other sites that often limit usernames length.
- Leave more room for the second half of the URL (usually the page title) to be displayed on Google’s search engine results page.
- Keywords in URLs have more potency the earlier they appear in a URL; think of it as the further to the left the better. Keywords in the domain root are mostly ignored so have as short a domain name as possible to move the keywords in the second half of your URL further to the left.
This rules out .info and .biz and leaves us with .co, .io and .me to choose from.
These should not be thought of as country-specific TLDs like .com.au for Australia or .co.uk for the UK. They started out as country-specific (.co for Colombia, .io for Indian Ocean Territory and .me for Montenegro) and in a limited technical sense, they still are. However, for all practical purposes and in the eyes Google they are just as international and generic as .com.
In the case of .co Matt Cutts, Google’s Head of Search, confirmed this years ago in the below video and it has only become more true over time.
Why not .io or .me?
.io has gained popularity due to its appeal to developers and coders because “input/output” is a fundamental concept in computer science which is often abbreviated to “io” and pronounced as 2 separate letters as if you were saying “I owe”. That means nothing to 99% of the population so this is only an advantage if your target market is tech geeks.
The disadvantage of .io is that it’s longer than .com, it’s even longer than .guide! What am I talking about? .io is longer to pronounce; it’s 2 syllables.
Even when a user does not say your site’s name out loud, every time they think of it or read it they say it in their head.
Repeat after me:
Example.io took 25% longer to say because it is 5 syllables instead of 4 even if you only said it in your head as you were reading. Or even worse a user might get confused trying to pronounce it phonetically like .eeow or .eioh.
So forget .io which leaves you with .co or .me.
Perhaps this is personal but I think .co looks, sounds and feels better. .me has been marketed as being for people to make personal sites about themselves, excuse me while I vomit.
A lot of country level domains start with .co such as .co.uk for the UK and .co.nz for New Zealand. This and its similarity to .com makes .co look more familiar and normal than the other TLD discussed here.
.co’s similarity to .com might also be its only weakness. If a user gets an error loading a page and sees a .co in the address bar they may think that the m of .com was somehow left out. Similarly, you might lose some visitors who type in yourdomain.com instead of yourdomain.co
Follow the crowd
Lastly, consider what other people are doing in what numbers. There is nothing special about .com and .net, their advantages come from their popularity, so get on board whichever of these alternatives is the most popular and the snowball effect may create a self-fulfilling prophecy.
This list shows the % of websites using each TLD, here are the figures for the ones discussed in this post:
Since I first made this post in 2015 .co and .oi have gotten 0.1% more popular. .biz has gotten 0.2% less popular.
So after culling .info because it’s too long then .co is your best bet; it is used by internet giants Amazon with a.co, Google with g.co and Twitter with t.co mostly as a URL shortener.
I love looking at my browser’s address bar and my emails and seeing bitedge.co. I think you will like your short, brandable .co as well. You can register it at Namecheap and pay in crypto!