Most Popular TLDs: Which TLDs are the most registered on the web?
What is a TLD? Which TLDs are the most popular?
Website names come in various lengths and meanings, and much like the domain names themselves, so do domain extensions (TLDs). There are many TLDs available for users to register their domains under that fit their specific online needs, and, in this article, we'll go over some of the most popular TLDs, along with the different types of TLDs.
"TLD" stands for "top-level domain", and you can find the TLD at the end of any domain name. In short, any characters that follow after the last dot in a website address are considered that domain's TLD - they are typically between 2-5 characters in length. For example, for dynadot.com, “dynadot” is known as a domain name while “.com” is the TLD. When looking through the endless list of TLDs, keep in mind that they each serve a unique purpose - which is often to help provide subtle context to an element of that website’s content (whether that be a location, language, or even a certain industry). In the past, websites were more limited to certain organizational types of TLDs (such as .com, .net, .org, .edu for example). However, in recent years, new TLDs have been created that also cater to niche sites.
Types of TLDs
Top-level domains are often divided into three different types; gTLD, sTLD, and ccTLD.
Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLD)
This category has most of the distinguishable and possibly the most used TLDs. We can consider this type of TLD to identify with generic websites. For example;
In 2013 ICANN approved 1,000+ new gTLDs, which opened the door to a whole new era of new TLDs. Some examples include:
Sponsored Top-Level Domains (sTLD)
Amongst the most popular TLDs, this group of sponsored top-level domains differs from gTLDs since they are sponsored by a particular entity to which the domain will cater. These bodies of entities consist of governments, businesses, and other specific groups. For example:
.gov - exclusively reserved for the US government
.edu - reserved for US academic institutions
.mil - exclusively reserved for the US military
Country Code Top-Level Domains (ccTLD)
Some of the most popular TLDs also fall in the ccTLD category, which represents the specific country the extension is tied to. When looking at ccTLDs, the extension will only have 2 characters (symbolizing the country code).
.us - USA
.cn - China
.in - India
While some ccTLDs have restrictions (often tied to use in certain locations), others do not. These open-use ccTLDs are called generic country code top-level domains (gccTLDs). For example, .tv is one of the most popular TLDs used for television or video-based websites, while also still being the country-code TLD for Tuvalu. Other examples include:
.bz - Belize
.cc - Cocos Islands
.co - Colombia
We have undeniably come a long way when it comes to different types of top-level domains to choose from. Within the most popular TLDs, there are a total of 1,514 top-level domains as of July 2020!
Most Popular TLDs
Looking at all the different types of TLDs and how many are available out there, what are the most popular TLDs? Based on Verisign Q4 2020: Domain Name Industry Brief data, these are the top 8 most popular TLDs by the number of reported domains as of Dec 31, 2020.
- .com - 151.8 million
The most used TLD all over the globe goes to .com. Initially, the extension was made for commercial use. Since it has become widely available for everyone at an early stage of the internet, it quickly became the most popular TLD.
- .cn - 24.7 million
Known as the most popular TLD under the country code category, .cn is used specifically for the Chinese market.
- .tk - 24.7 million
A free ccTLD (with restrictions) for the Tokelau region in New Zealand. However, the TLD is identified to be one of the main sources of phishing.
- .de - 16.7 million
The ccTLD for Germany, great for websites in the German market. Can also be used as a gccTLD hack for French, Spanish, or Japanese users.
- .net - 13.4 million
One of the most popular TLDs that has strong recognition and is designed for small businesses and start-ups. Created in the early ages of the internet.
- .uk - 10.9 million
Became an established credible ccTLD in the United Kingdom and internationally.
- .org - 10.3 million
.Org is another popular TLD made for credible usage in non-profit, charitable, foundations, or institution organizations.
- .nl - 6.1 million
Perfect to reach either the Dutch or Netherland market for personal sites, blogs, or business.
Finding the right TLD for you
Now that we have acknowledged the list of the most popular TLDs, the important question to ask is “which is the best TLD for me”? Although classic gTLDs like .com, .net, .org are easily distinguishable and may suit your needs, it is easy to overlook the potential of various new TLDs. TLDs can have an impact on your branding, website rankings (SEO), business success, and more - so finding one that fits your situation is worth the time. Keep in mind you can always register multiple domain names for your website. With so many TLDs available, there may be multiple that fit your domain name best.
Here are some general tips that will help guide you in finding the right TLD for you:
- What is your site’s purpose?
Before selecting a new TLD, taking the purpose of your site into consideration is incredibly crucial. Whether it is a blog-focused site or an e-commerce site, there is a whole spectrum of TLDs that will best fit your business model. If you are running a blog site, some of the TLDs you may consider would be .blog or .me. Or, if you’re starting a new tech startup business, you could consider .io.
Furthermore, if your site’s purpose is for a non-profit organization, .org would be a wise choice. There is plenty of extensions to choose from in the large list of TLDs. Nevertheless, defining your site’s purpose, and correlating it to your TLD of choice is a terrific place to start the decision process.
- Consider different types of TLDs
With there being over one thousand top-level domains to choose from, finding your ideal domain using popular TLDs such as .com may be difficult (due to the high number of domains already registered). So, considering alternatives and newer TLDs if your first choice isn’t available can assist with registering a great domain name. For example, if you wanted to create a website called “athomestudio.com”, it is likely already taken. You should consider looking at alternative TLDs that can help get your desired domain name like, “athome.studio”. gccTLDs could also be a strong choice for your site as well, as the geographical association is often not important and they can be used to shorten your URL. For example, Twitter utilizes multiple domains to redirect users to their main site such as “t.co”, despite “.co” belongs to Colombia’s country code.
- Examine your target audience
Considering your targeted audience is an essential part of any business, and the same concept applies to discovering your best TLD. One decisive factor usually involves the geographic location of your business or which location your audience resides in. Whether you are intending to focus your site internationally, nationwide, or locally there are different TLDs to choose from (.asia, .us, .nyc). Looking at the interests of your target audience may also be an indicator for choosing more niche TLDs that represent those interests.
- Take SEO into account
When looking at the most popular TLDs, you need to consider WHY they are frequently used. Some domains can help you differentiate your site from others and some can also potentially affect your SEO rankings in the future. However just because your site has a popular TLD like “.com” doesn’t mean that it is the reason why it’s ranking highly for certain keywords. All top-level domains, including the new TLDs, are treated equally by search engines. Some TLDs could be an indicator for the type of content found on the site, which could help associate your website within that content area (which may indirectly assist your website's SEO).
Ultimately, if you are thinking about starting up a website, the domain extension possibilities are endless. Top-level domains exist to suit and create unique domain names for various needs of each registrant. Now that you have a glimpse of some of the most popular TLDs, explore our domain search page to find the TLD that best fits you and your brand! Don’t be afraid to register multiple domain names for your website if you can’t decide on one! Alternatively, you can use our domain suggestion tool to help you discover great domain names.