Do Some Domain Suffixes (TLDs) Rank Better Than Others?

Do Some Domain Suffixes (TLDs) Rank Better Than Others?

With all the choices available for top level domains (TLDs), this is a pretty common question for those looking to build a new site. Does a .com website inherently rank better than a .net, .biz, or other suffix?

The short answer is no, and I say this both because Google has confirmed it and from my own experience. Search engines do not place any greater value on any type of suffix, with one exception. Country-specific TLDs will generally rank better in the country they're associated with. For example, buying a .us domain for a US-based business is a good idea, but would be less so if you're a company in Canada. Other country TLDs like .me, which is technically the country suffix for Montenegro, do not carry much of a location preference due to its popularity in English speaking countries as the word "me".

Function before extension.

If you're in the US or are looking at the primary TLDs like .com, .net, or .org it doesn't make any difference for your ability to rank your site. Search engines look at the structure of your site and the content within it; the domain is just the pointer to get there.

Think of a domain like a phone number. It's just a method of connecting to someone else's web host. Click To Tweet

Why some people still prefer the .com TLD

While a domain ending in ".com" doesn't inherently rank any better than a .net, .com has become sort of the standard implied suffix for any domain. If my company's name is "Super Widget", for example, and you'd never been to my site you'd likely try superwidget.com before anything else.

It's sort of circular situation. Since more people are inclined to get a .com version of their domain, the typical assumption when people see a .net is that the business was unable or unwilling to shell out for the .com. A lot of customers won't care, but some may. Whether it's justified or not, there it is.

A lot of business owners feel that they can control their brand better with a .com since it's seen as the primary TLD. Even if you formed Super Widget LLC before anyone else and bought superwidget.net, if someone else comes along a year later and buys the .com version people may give credence to their site over yours. Even if not, it can create confusion between the two sites, particularly if the subject matter of both sites is similar.

This is why a lot of business owners will buy up their domain in all the major TLDs at once. They may only promote the .com version of their domain publicly, but since they own the .net, .org, etc. they know no one else will infringe upon their brand. It's not a common problem, but in the past there have been issues with scammers or trouble makers buying a branded domain with some secondary domain suffix and impersonating that brand. (Such as someone trying to buy pepsi.xy and acting like part of Pepsi.)

Other uses of multiple TLDs for a brand

Some organizations can separate aspects of their business with different TLDs. WordPress, for example, offers their free blogging platform at wordpress.com via a site login. Their wordpress.org website refers to the software itself, and is more of a community of developers that use WordPress on private hosting to build customized sites. Both domains are owned by the same group, but are used for different purposes.

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Brian Watkins

Brian Watkins

Web strategist, tech geek, and music lover. I've been in the marketing and web development industry for since 2007, combining technical and coding skills with creative writing to improve businesses' websites and better communicate their brands to their target customers. Having worked at both ends of this spectrum — the back end coding and the front end presentation, as well as business operations and strategizing with sales teams — I've gained some valuable insights in making all these pieces mesh.

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