The internet has come a long way since the advent of the .com domain. One question I get asked frequently is "which TLDs are commercially viable?" These are your .coms, .nets, .bizs. This article is a summary of the advice I give all my clients with respect to new TLDs that are introduced.
The regulatory body, ICANN, which controls TLDs (top-level-domain) names, since the beginning has opened up the creation of new TLDs to various investment groups. Investment groups are the #1 factor to take into account when considering one of the following domain names and the actual domain name is the #2 factor.
When you're tracing the chain of custody you have to think from back to front. That's because the investment groups who partner with ICANN to launch a new TLD decide the bundle of privileges, policies and rights associated with that TLD and ICANN gives it their blessing by introducing the new TLD into the ecosystem. Unbeknownst to most people, the "type" of market each domain name attracts has a huge impact on the destiny of each newborn TLD, almost as much as the investment group that started it.
We have now entered the age of theoretically unlimited TLD's for you to buy. You will probably recognize most of the one's I list here, although I don't consider all of them great domains if you take your brand seriously. There are plenty here I won't even bother to list, let alone cite my reasons for excluding them. If they made this list, it's because they are a pretty good bet and, at the very least, won't harm your brand with any unintended connotations.
.com's remains the pre-eminant TLD, and the domain name of choice among commercially viable enterprises. If you can still snag the one you want, do so without hesitation. If it is available for sale, the right one for your venture can be worth acquiring. That obscene asking price won't seem so bad when you account for the value of your brand.
I'll be the first to admit that when .net first came out, they were widely considered to be a second-rate domain name. While .com's represented enterprises with an international profile, .net's represented the fringe of those who could not compete in commerce but needed to be online anyways.
Not so much anymore. This is proven by the fact that most commercially-viable .com's have subsequently registered their related .net's, .org's and frequent misspellings. Naturally, the .net versions of a domain name almost universally resolve to the .com, but that doesn't speak any more to the junk-ability of the .net but to the triumphant status and presence of the .com.
At any rate, I have purchased dozens of .net's throughout my life. As an internet marketer I will say that they have always been on equal footing with a .com in terms of search engine optimization (seo) and "nearly" almost on par with .com's in terms of memorability and marketability. From a commercial standpoint these will always be my second choice.
It wasn't always the case but, nowadays, I would rate .org's at a slightly higher level than .net, but not quite the same caliber as a .com. A .org feels like home for any enterprise for whom profiteering is not the primary motive. Non-profits, associations, certification bodies and social businesses are all prime suspects for a .org presence.
The next best thing to a .com or a .org is a .co.uk—if you live in the United Kingdom. You must have an address in the UK to purchase, however plenty of people simply make one up.
.info had a lot of potential, but was abused by PPC (pay-per-click) marketers to the point where the domain name became ancillary to the method in which it was employed and lost all commercial viability. I don't think there's any digging out of this hole for the .info TLD. It might be redeemed someday but I wouldn't allocate any of your precious marketing budget towards this TLD, unless it's to deny your brand name to competing firms or pick up a domain on the cheap for some equally reprobate purposes.
What a laugh when this first came out. .Biz almost seemed like throwback to .info's while skirting the razor's edge of commercial viability. They're widely recognized as the "poor man's .net".
Another laugh, with one exceptional quality. .US enjoys usage by a ton of commercially viable enterprises but their branding is decidedly misplaced by using the .us tld. Only supremely patriotic firms and businesses who already own the requisite .com, .net and .org domain names own a .us. Don't purchase this one unless you mean to secure it away from competitors.
This is one TLD that I'm excited about. It bears close resemblance to .com but isn't. It also bears close resemblance to .co.uk but isn't geographically based. I predict that .co will become a close-second to .com's within a few years. The one major drawback to this domain name, right now, is that, since most people are accustomed to .com's, they might inadvertently think that .co is a misspelling when they see it on your marketing materials. Fortunately this mistake will be mostly limited to people who aren't internet-savvy, don't have much exposure to the internet and senior citizens.