Conventional wisdom has dictated for the past 15+ years that it’s best to have the .com domain for a business. Even after many extensions have come and some have fizzled, .com remains the undisputed king of the TLD world. Even hundreds or thousands of new TLDs won’t change that. But why?
There really is no explanation of .com’s dominance except that it’s always been dominant. There’s nothing special about “com” specifically that makes it such a go-to extension.
This is why some people believe the new TLD program will drastically alter the internet as we know it, because it will open up possibilities like .music, .app and .web. They’re misguided in that belief as they’re focusing solely on the letters “com” and not its history and why it is still huge, which again is simply because it’s always been huge.
Understanding that is key to understanding the many reasons why you should still stick with .com. There ARE exceptions which will be explained at the end, but typically if you are starting a serious venture online, you should be building your brand on .com.
6 reasons why you should still stick with .com for your business domain
1. Your visitors expect you to be on .com
With the exception of German, UK, French or other country-specific sites, visitors default to .com. When they hear about your business, they’re going to assume it will be on a .com. If they remember the name and try looking it up later on the .com, you should be there! Owners of other extensions always lose some traffic to the .com.
2. Your visitors have more comfort with .com
There’s more than expectation of .com – there’s comfort in .com. .com has been a rock for so long and while there are some spam and scam sites on .com (usually centered around typos of existing sites), the prevalence of spam is less on .com than on most extensions.
3. It looks more professional than other extensions.
The last adjective most businesses would want going through their visitors’ minds is “cheap”, meaning they’re low quality, not very serious, etc. Certainly some .com domains look like junk, but simply avoid the junk and get a solid .com to show more professionalism than having to settle for a worse extension.
4. Google will like you better
This is true for .com, .net and .org over other extensions, but most of all for .com. Google recognizes that most of the largest most trusted sites online are on .com and as such gives preference to .com in search results. Google sites like Google.co.uk and Google.de do however give preference to the respective local extensions over .com in most cases.
5. You can get type-in traffic
People don’t type in a generic term in .com as often as in the past, but it still happens. It began long ago for a means for people to look for a site relevant to their needs since the .com was most likely to be registered. It’s another example of how .com’s dominance has helped it remain dominant.
6. You may get traffic from a matching domain in another extension (beware of trademark issues)
If you get a high quality .com domain, there’s a chance that in the future someone may develop a site on a different extension. Any popularity they achieve sends traffic your way as people incorrectly remember the site being on .com.
Don’t specifically get a .com domain to capitalize on another site’s traffic however as you may run into trademark issues. This is only a potential icing on the cake for owning a strong generic .com.
Now that we’ve covered why .com should still be your top choice of extension for your business domain, let’s look at some exceptions:
Exceptions to the .com Rule
Targeting a locale within a specific non-US country
While country-code extensions tend to take a backseat to .com, .net and .org in domain discussions, they do still serve the important purpose of attracting an audience within their respective country. If you’re a German company selling to German customers, get a .de instead of a .com as you’ll better target your market.
Targeting a market with strong presence of alternative extensions
The biggest example of this is social media. Short “cute” names have been the rage in social media ever since Twitter came about, starting off with the URL shorteners such as Bit.ly. .ly, .tv, .me, .co, .am, .fm, .io and others have grown to a strong presence in social media. .com is still the primary suggestion for serious businesses however and many sites starting on alternative extensions eventually buy their .com and move to it in the end.
Establishing a charity or other non-profit organization or NGO
.org is an extension with a defined purpose, and while it’s not necessary to be a non-profit to register one, it’s still where visitors expect to see those organizations online. A non-profit organization based on a .com would simply look weird to visitors and would actually lose traffic to the .org.
There are other situations where an extension other than .com may make sense. But these are exceptions rather than the rule.
You might think “what about that really nice catchy .net domain I can get for the same price as this ‘worse’ .com?” After all, you do sometimes hear of companies like Box.net (now Box.com) that strike success with high quality names in other extensions.
The problem is that the name quality you can get for the same price as a .com is not enough to make up for the disadvantage of using another extension besides .com. It’s a lot riskier to go with anything else except for the exceptions mentioned above.
That’s simply the way it is right now. .Com is the go-to extension for businesses simply because it has been for a long time. Future generations that have not grown up with .com being by far the most visible extension may likely think differently, but that time is still far off.
Regardless of the reasons behind it, while .com is still in its dominant position, it should still be the first choice for your business.