New Top-Level Domains Have Hidden Costs


A lot of new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) have become available lately, and some are bargains. If one appeals to you, you likely also need the dot-com name or other familiar TLD version as well, and that means you pay more, not less. That’s a hidden cost. For example, the popular website del.icio.us also responds to delicious.com and for a good business reason: Plenty of people type the name they’re looking for and add “.com” to the end, like it’s hard-wired into their brains. People who don’t understand the Internet in depth are still valuable visitors. You probably want their visits, so you’ll have to oblige them by buying the extra name, and renewing it yearly.

Some visitors apparently omit TLDs altogether, and their browsers might simply assume they want to go to a .com address and send them there. Firefox sometimes does that. So you should consider getting a version of the domain you want but without dots and with .com added to the end.

The best TLDs are usually .com and .org for business names, personal names, and nonprofit organization names, .edu for educational establishments that qualify, and the national or country code top-level domain (ccTLD) for any nation other than the United States. (The U.S. has .us but people in the U.S. generally prefer .com anyway.) Get the ccTLD if you want credibility among people in that country, regardless of where you’re hosted. Several U.S. territories, namely Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands, also use their own ccTLDs. Of course, getting the ccTLD is worthwhile only if your website is principally written in that nation’s native language, or one of them, and only if it reflects local sensitivities, although you can offer other languages, too. Using a ccTLD also means complying with that nation’s laws about websites, and some website hosts may not offer ccTLDs because of compliance risks.

A long distance between a visitor and a ccTLD’s nation can mean transmissions take time. That’s measured with latency. It may or may not be a problem. Long latency could mean your visitor has to wait for content to arrive at their browser, especially if you have complex pages or large files. Butu an example of good latency despite likely distance is at https://dmc.mn/, because the State of Minnesota has chosen to have a local website use a Mongolian ccTLD and yet, at least in my experience, the home page’s load time is normal even with complex imagery and despite the distance between the U.S. and Mongolia, about six thousand miles. For the ccTLD you’re thinking of getting, test the latency by visiting some second-level domains with that ccTLD, and looking for complicated pages and massive files that normally would take time to download or to play directly from the distant website.