Back in January 1985, the .net top-level domain (TLD) was released and as one of the original TLDs, it grew and became more widely used from the early 2000s. Today, .net is still the fourth most widely used domain extension, and yet it was heralded as the next .com extension.
Since then, a plethora of new domain extensions have hit the market, one of those was the top-level domain extension .online. So how has .online fared, has been as popular as .com and .net? And is .online a good domain? In this article I’m going to address the pros and cons of the .online extension, the best scenarios to use .online …and compare .online with other domain extensions.
But first, before we hit the finer details, let’s give you a quick rundown as a takeaway answer…
Is .online a Good Domain? Announced on June 13, 2012, .online domains were one of 2000 new Top Level Domain Extensions made available by ICANN. .online has proved popular among startups and companies who deal with a solely online presence. .online has similar perceived SEO value as .com or .net but is less popular.
In internet terms, when discussing website growth and marketing, 2012 to now is a fairly short space of time to have proven benefits. However, early indications on use for a top-level domain are always a sure sign of whether the domain is a hit or not.
Unlike the .net – and certainly the .com domain, the .online domain name has been slower to pick up and this may have signaled it was not likely to overtake either of it’s more widely used .net and .com cousins.
Before we hone down to .online domains specifically, perhaps we should just touch slightly on the history of TLDs so we can understand how we got to this point…
History of Top Level Domains (TLDs)
In 1971, Ray Tomlinson was the man who developed ‘email’. He, however, needed to separate the idea of a user name from a computer name, so in order to do this, he used the ‘@’ symbol. Eleven years later and in a similar vein, computers switched to using TCP/IP formats. This is where you’ve likely come across the idea of IP addresses.
This background is important because now that web pages could ‘resolve’ at an IP address, the idea of remembering IP addresses was going to be a very difficult one. People were just never going to remember a string of numbers – let along pass them on to others to visit. So people needed a much easier way of connecting to particular IP addresses.
We still use IPs, they are an essential part of connectivity for the internet, but a more user-friendly system was needed. That’s when the idea of Domain Name Servers (DNS) was invented. Now, users could simply enter a domain name – and it would connect them to the IP address they were looking for.
In late 1984, RFC 920 created seven core TLDs, the original top-level domains released were:-
The oldest and still the most widely used and respected is .com, some are industry-specific like .edu, .gov and .mil, while some were commercially focused such as .int, .net and .com.
Now, the market for domain names has become even broader, there are a huge variety of new TLDs, you can even get a .christmas domain name!
Now that you hopefully understand how we got to this point, let’s look at why TLDs are important and how they’ve become especially important in a commercial sense.
Why TLDs are Important for Your Organization
Domain names create an identity, and story around your organization, persona or activities. Your chosen domain name not only stays with you for the life of your service, product, etc – but will reflect everything about what you or your company does!
So when selecting a domain you should always consider if the extension reflects the type of content your site will be generating and if it fits with your branding.
So that brings us to how a .online domain extension reflects your business and activities and who is it suitable for? So we get to the real core of the question here… is .online a good domain?
Is .online a Good Domain?
We could go into the nuances of what you would define as “good”. For most though, the question splits down to two main sub-questions:-
- Does .online affect my chances of ranking on search engines
- Does .online reflect what my website is about
So let’s look at each of these in turn…
Does .online Affect Search Engine Rankings
From an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) perspective, the .online extension is actually quite good. In search engine ranking terms, your .online domain has as much chance of appearing in the search engine results pages (SERP) as say, the .com domain.
In real terms, this means then, that your .online could easily appear ahead of .com and other extension results – providing your content is the best content available for Google to select for that search query.
What would likely hold you back more is choosing a country-specific domain name like .ca, .co.uk or .de. For these, search engines will likely perceive your content to be appropriate more so for that specific country.
So really then, your focus should be on the next question…
Does .online Reflect My Website Content or Core Activities?
If you ask any marketing agencies, they will all tell you that the .com domain is a much more widely recognized domain extension.
.com is the domain name that most people will default to when asked what the name of their favorite website is. This is because, for decades, .com was really the only go-to extension that brands and businesses, in general, would select.
It’s ingrained in the human psyche that we default to .com when describing websites. Which begs the question – why bother using a .online domain extension? …
There are two main reasons why one would choose a .online extension over a .com or .net domain.
There are no single word .com domains left. If you do happen to find a single word .com domain name that has become available then do let me know in the comments below, but I don’t imagine it will hang around for long.
Just about everyone who is looking for a domain name for their website wants a .com name. The next best (at least perceived best) option after that is a two-word .com extension, but you would be hard-pressed to find those either – particularly at any reasonable price. Even three-word .com domains are hard to come by.
Domains like .online and .net provide some next best alternatives that might still enable you to have the domain of your choice.
What your organization does can also have a bearing on whether you should choose a .online domain name. There are two main scenarios in which a .online extension is an ideal format for your business.
Online Only Presence
For some, online IS where their work is! If you provide services that are ONLY available online, then a .online domain is befitting for your website. It makes sense therefore to have a .online domain. Activities such as those carried out by online influencers, or content creators lend themselves well to a .online domain
A .online domain is a good choice for a new startup that is finding its feet. The domain names are relatively well priced and will enable you to establish a presence in the marketplace.
Benefits of .online vs .com Domains
So let’s go over what benefits you’re likely to get by choosing either a .com domain vs a .online domain name.
Benefits of .com domain
- Has longevity in the history of domain names
- Reputation enhancing
- Most widely accepted domain extension
- Users automatically associate a website as a .com domain
- Often contain historical backlink profiles (this could be a bad thing in some cases)
Benefits of .online domain
- Enhances your brand as an online entity
- A greater chance that your first-choice domain name will be available
- Global appeal
- More relevance for online-only companies and organizations
- Lower cost of purchase
What’s in a Domain Name
As we’ve hinted at before, it’s less about the domain and more about your content. As long as search engines like Google are willing to put you alongside other domain extensions, then your focus should be more on what content, service you’re providing, that is what people will ultimately remember.
The different types of domain extensions that are now available is huge, it’s exploded in recent years, so as time progresses we will more naturally see an uptake on lesser-known domain extensions.
We should also note here, that Google is placing less emphasis on the domain name in their search results, so at some future point it may not matter at all what your domain name is. What will matter is whether you’re providing the very best the user can get.
Does .online Have a Place in the Future?
Let’s project ourselves forward some time into the future, who would have thought that the number of .com domain names would become so saturated and scarce. Even .net domain names are getting harder to find. So getting hold of a good .online name today could actually put you ahead of other newer companies and entities coming into the market.
The approach for this would be that ok … it’s not a .com name, but a good .online name might be better than many who will come after you can hope for.
Speaking of the very best a user can get, my resource pages provide some great services you can use to begin your online presence. Why not take a look and let’s begin with your domain name and other marketing plans today!