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Top Level Domains

Ever wondered what the different letters following the dot mean at the end of a domain name? (.com) The letters on the far right following the dot are called the top level domain, or TLD. The TLD tells about what type of site the domain refers to. Using our previous domain name examples, in "Parts of a Domain", the TLDs would be .net, .com, .edu. and .tv.

There are basically two general categories of TLDs- the generic top level domains, or gTLDs and the country code top level domains, or ccTLDs. There are currently 14 generic top level domains, and as many ccTLDs as there are countries.

Global Top Level Domains or gTLDs
The domain extensions that have been approved for general use by the entire world are .com, .net, .org, .biz, and .info. These are often called global (or generic) top level domains, or gTLDs. These are internationally recognized, viewable by all web browsers, and available for purchase by buyers in any country.

Not So Global are .aero .pro .edu
Some extensions have strict limitations or rules regarding who may register the names and how they may be used. Restricted domains such as .aero .pro .edu .museum are available only to qualified registrants. These extensions have been set aside for specific fields and professions. (ex. .edu is for schools, universities, and official educational organizations.) ccTLD's
Country codes or International Domains are the two letter codes assigned to each country. Examples commonly seen are .uk for England, .au for Australia, .cn for China, and .ca for Canada. There are some restrictions about purchasing these domain extensions. If you aren't living in the UK for example and would like a .uk domain there are rules restricting you from using a .uk name.

Other Choices like .tv .fm .ws
Some country codes have been bought out and made available for general use. These are fresh and cool and stand for popular industries. Some examples are .tv .fm and .ws. .tv standing for television, .ws for web site, and .fm for the radio industry.

New TLDs like .pro .name
The newest top level domains receive a lot of hype from registrars, and as they become available for purchase or pre-order, you'll certainly hear a lot about them. The new top level domains were created by ICANN, the organization in charge of domain names, to provide growing room for the public. As the .com's are being snatched up, and soon entirely exhausted, there must be other extensions available for use. Thus the creation of new TLD's such as: .pro and .name.

Fake TLDs like .family .anything
There are certain extension imposters that you need to be aware of and look out for. Such as .family, .xxx, or .anythingelse. If an extension is not permitted by the official organizations the extension may not be viewable to the entire public. If you choose to use these specialty extension names do so knowing that unless your viewers have downloaded a special program for their web browser, they will not be able to view sites that use these extensions. Be very cautious about paying for extensions like these.

Related Article: Subdomains Explained >>