In the beginning, there was .com. And it was good. The first domain names ever registered were all .com addresses, at a time when .com domain registrations were seen as the only top level domain companies would ever need. America adopted .com as its country code TLD, ignoring .us and bucking a global trend of using ccTLDs to boost domestic search engine rankings. Even today, the .com domain registration is used for an estimated 47% of all top level domains – that’s almost ten times more than its biggest rivals (.org and .net).
Given these facts, it might seem strange to ask whether the .com domain is falling out of fashion. Yet there are several factors that could be contributing to .com losing its luster…
There’s more choice than ever
In the early 1990s, a .com domain registration wasn’t just an obvious choice. Other than ccTLDs, it was practically the only choice. However, in the twenty years since internet regulator, ICANN was founded, it has released over a thousand generic TLDs onto the market. The result is an unprecedented diversity of domains.
Industry-specific gTLDs are more descriptive
While ICANN’s gTLD launches haven’t all been runaway successes, the sheer diversity of gTLDs is encouraging people to be more experimental. Industry-specific domains like .cafe and .spa are great for identifying a company’s industry or focus. This affords greater flexibility to the domain name itself since it has less descriptive work to do.
The .com domain is overpopulated
Because companies have spent almost thirty years grabbing .com domains (and in some cases holding them to ransom), available domains are increasingly hard to find. All the shorter ones are gone, and most of the obvious .com domains are already in use, too. If you want your company name to appear in your web address, you may have to choose an alternative gTLD.
Search engines don’t discriminate against niche TLDs
There’s a popular myth that search engines favor .com domain registrations when ranking search results. However, Google says it treats new and established gTLDs alike. Even so, .com still offers an indirect benefit. Google does take site traffic into consideration, and consumers are often wary about visiting sites with niche gTLDs, meaning .com sites get more visitors.
You pay a premium for a .com address
This really is a myth, and Midphase doesn’t always charge more for .com sites than other gTLDs. A customer wishing to purchase ‘theonlywayiscom’ as a domain name could register the .com domain more affordably than the equivalent .net or .co sites. Having said that, theonlywayiscom.online is available for just $1.49 for the first year, as is the .site gTLD.
Ultimately, your choice of top level domain is entirely personal. Cost shouldn’t be a significant factor, though availability will be. The .com domain remains the gold standard for companies across America, and it’s still the most recognizable gTLD on the market. It’s impossible to say whether a domain with almost half the global market is out of fashion, even if its popularity has clearly peaked. This is certainly a good time to consider adopting an alternative gTLD – there are plenty to choose from…
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