Understanding Domain Name Extensions
What are domain name extensions and why are there so many? Internet domain extensions help classify types of websites and their country of origin.
Domain extensions are the letters found directly after the period at the end of a "URL" (uniform resource locator). For example, in the URL www.makeyourownwebsiteguide.com, ".com" is the domain extension or the "top-level domain" as defined by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
The extension at the end of a domain name is basically like the 3 digit area code preceding a phone number. They tell the (internet) operator where to direct each connection. The type of extension determines whether it is global or country based, as well as what type of website it is.
You are probably most familiar with common global extensions such as: ".com" ".net" and ".org", but do you know why one is used over another? Most domain names are created with the .com extension, which is by far the most popular choice commercially. ".net" is probably the next extension that comes to mind when you think of a website. It's great for administrative sites on the net, but it also works well for any sort of generally informative website, because it sounds good after just about any domain name. ".org" was originally the primary extension for non-profit organizations, but is used today by some commercial sites which find it to be more friendly and inviting than the standard dot com.
Country Domain Extensions
Country domain name extensions are more of a localized source. Like a local newspaper, country extensions tend to focus information on the needs of their natives. For instance, someone interested in trading horses in England might choose the domain " www.trading-horses.uk " This domain name and extension would clearly represent the site's intent to trade horses in that specific part of the world.
The third type of purpose-driven domain extensions refers to types of organizations. In the United States for instance, .mil would be an extension for a military site, .gov would be a government site, and .edu would be for an educational facility.
Currently, there are over 280 available domain name extensions. You can access an extensive list of these internet top-level domain names at Wikipedia. This includes generic and country-specific, as well as test TLD's and infrastructure domains.
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