What you need to know before choosing a .com, .ca or other TLDs

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Website fundamentals

As you get your business online, you’re likely to encounter many terms you’re not familiar with like SSL, IMAP and TLD. Today we’re going to demystify what a TLD is, and help you choose between the various TLDs that are available for your website address.

Related: Health domain names for the medical industry

What is a TLD?

While TLD may be an unfamiliar acronym, you actually do know what they are — you see one every time you visit a website.

TLD stands for Top Level Domain (aka domain extension) and they are the letters after the final period in a domain name (.com, .org, .ca, etc).

Ottawa-based Kettleman’s Bagel Co uses the .ca TLD for their web address (KettlemansBagels.ca).

 

In this case, .ca is the TLD and KettlemansBagels is the Second Level Domain (SLD).

See if the domain name matching your business name is available now

Choosing Your TLD

Until six or seven years ago, there were only a handful of TLDs available. Now there are hundreds of TLDs to choose from, ranging from .com and .ca to .quebec and .hockey. So:

  • If you were to build a business based around coffee you could use the .coffee TLD
  • .ninja would be good for a martial arts studio
  • Clubs of all kinds, from book clubs to nightclubs, favor .club

While some TLDs may be appropriate for a personal website, they definitely wouldn’t work for a business site. Which TLD you choose says something about your business.

A business using .pizza better have something to do with pizza if they want to be taken seriously.

mechanic-looking-at-the-underside-of-a-car.jpgThis TLD is unlikely to suit a hair salon, unless it’s a pizza-themed one (but now .buzz on the other hand …). You can find a list of all the TLDs available to you in this glossary.

A note for those who haven’t named their businesses yet

If you’re naming a new business, make sure to search for the matching domain before you settle on a name for your new venture. You don’t want to get signs printed or your business name registered, only to find that there is no domain available with a decent TLD to match your business name.

Try to keep your domain name short, and use keywords that suit your industry. You can find helpful tips for choosing the perfect domain name here.

To .com or not?

While it’s easy to assume you should use .com as your TLD because of its global recognition, it’s also one of the oldest options.

That means it will be much harder to find an appropriate name that’s easy to spell, short and memorable using .com. Many of the variations that would meet this criteria are already in use by other businesses

For businesses that serve Canadians, the .ca TLD can help instill trust in consumers.

 

According to the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA), Canadians are 4 times more likely to shop at a .ca site. Why? Because they can be sure:

  • They’re looking at Canadian dollar values
  • The company will ship to their location

Business Owner in Her Shop with Her DaughterAdditionally, sites using .ca are required to have a presence in Canada, which means they’ll be subject to Canadian laws regarding users’ data privacy and security. Canadian users understand this and are going to give a .ca website preference as they make buying decisions.

The Canadian .ca TLD is also one of the least abused TLDs, which means the sites that use it are considered free from malware the world over. Even .com has more malicious sites associated with it than the .ca TLD does.

The home team advantage

There’s one more reason to consider .ca: When it comes to online searches, country-specific TLDs like .ca are given preference for in-country search.

That means your .ca site is more likely to come up in searches done inside Canada. If you want to attract Canadian visitors, this will mean more traffic to your site for the customers you want.

What to do if the .ca you want isn’t available?

Like .com, .ca is another TLD that’s been around for a while. You may not be able to find the perfect domain name using this TLD because many are already in use.

In that case, consider going with a provincial TLD like .quebec if you’re serving customers in Quebec, or French Canadian customers across the country. This will help your customers identify with your site as a local resource and thus trust you more.

Be sure to purchase the French accented versions of your TLD to help appeal to French-speaking customers if your primary market is French Canadian.

It’s advisable to purchase a few variations of your name, so that competitors can’t purchase them and send traffic that should go to your site elsewhere.

Consider a new TLD

Man Standing on Brewery Floor Near Open-Vat
Opening a brewery? Consider the .beer TLD for your web address.

You may even find one of the newer domains like .hockey is perfect for your site all about your favourite hockey team. Here you can purchase something unique without needing to go to your 12th choice because the others were all taken.

TLDs like .hockey and .coffee are newer, which means there are fewer domains registered using them. That can mean it will be easier to find the perfect domain name with an interesting TLD. Something that’s short and memorable for your customers to use.

Find a domain name someone else owns that you can’t live without? Contact GoDaddy’s Domain Broker Service. They’ll reach out to the owner to see if they’re willing to sell it to you.

Choose the domain extension that’s right for you

Don’t settle for a lacklustre domain name simply because it uses .com. Feel free to branch out and into something that suits your industry, like .cafe if you’re opening a cafe.

Just remember to choose something short, easy to spell and use a TLD that conveys trust for your industry.