A top level domain, when it comes to the internet, is most easily described as an extension at the end of the web pages name. Websites can have all different kinds of endings including .com, .org, or .net and many others. Originally, .org was for non-profit organizations, .com was for commercial websites, and .net was for networks. The ICANN, or Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, manages top-level domains. ICANN operates the IANA, or Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, as well. Here is some information about top level domains and how they can affect your company.
Type of TLDs
There are many different types of top level domains available today. The IANA distinguishes a variety of groups when it comes to top-level domains. A generic top-level domain, or gTLD, contains three or more characters. This type can be unsponsored (gTLD) or sponsored (sTLD). These domains include .aero, .Asia, .biz, .cat, .com, .coop, .info, .int, .jobs, .mobi, .museum, .name, .net, .org, .post, .pro, .tel, .travel, and .xxx. Unsponsored domains operate under policies that were established by ICANN for the global Internet community. Initially, only .gov, .com, .edu, .mil, .net, and .org were the only domains available, while more have been created more recently like .info. A sponsored top-level design is supported by private agencies and organizations. They establish and restrict eligibility to use the top-level domain. These are usually based on a theme concept that is brought to life by the community.
Other Types of Top Level Domains
A country-code top-level domain, or ccTLD, uses two letters to establish a country. The domains .us, .uk, and .ca are just a couple of these types. An infrastructure top-level domain consists of only ARPA, or the Address and Routing Parameter Area. IANA manages this domain for the Internet Engineering Task Force. Internationalized country code top-level domains, or IDN ccTLD, are also available. These include non-Latin character sets. This is used for countries that do not use the standard letters that are used today. There are also USA top-level domains which are reserved for government agencies. These include .edu, .gov, and .mil.
Reserved Top-Level Domains
There are four top-level domains that are reserved and not used to avoid conflict and confusion. The domain name example, is reserved for use in strictly examples. The domain name invalid has been saved for use in, obviously, invalid domain names. Localhost is reserved to avoid conflict with the more traditional use of local host. Finally, test is reserved for being used in tests. These four domain names are restricted and cannot be used.
Top-Level Domain Proposals
ICANN was involved with proposing and introducing many new top-level domains beginning in late 2000. Domain names like .aero, .coop, .museum, .pro, .biz, .info, and .name. The domain .xxx started being used in 2011. More domains that were proposed, but have not made an appearance on the internet yet include .arts, .nom, .rec, .firm, .shop, and .web. Future proposed top-level domains include free, .shop, .wine, .music, .berlin, and .nyc. In 2012, ICANN publicized almost two thousand new top-level domains that are expected to go live after a more thorough examination.
So, with all the choices that are now available to you when it comes to a top-level domain, you should find the one that fits your business the best and does not give off the wrong message. Sticking to the normal TLDs is a good idea because they are more easily remembered by those that visit your site. With two thousand new TLDs coming to light, there should be no problems creating a website with a name that you want.