Domain Extensions

When looking for a domain name for your business, personal blog, or portfolio website, there are a few important things to consider.

First, target a domain that’s easy for users to digest and doesn’t have misspellings, numbers, or hyphens. Second, search for domain names that reflect your brand, whether that means including your name, slogan or keywords associated with your targeted niche.

Last but not least, think critically about what top-level domain (TLD), aka domain extension or domain ending, makes the most sense for your specific needs. With this one, it helps to know these five of the most popular domain names.

A domain extension is the combination of characters following the dot in a web address.

It’s used to designate the category or country code for a website. For instance, in .com is the domain extension.

What are some of the most popular domain endings in the UK?

Choosing a recognizable domain extension could help with your online business branding. Here are five of the most common domain extensions to consider if you’re based in the UK.

  1. .com
  3. .net
  4. .org
  5. .co

Let’s explore these five popular domain extensions and why you should consider each one for your new domain.

1. .com

.com is hands-down the most popular top-level domain (TLD). It was originally used to designate for-profit businesses, but has now become the mainstay of domain extensions. When deciding on a domain extension, you should consider strongly the .com version if it’s available.

The .com TLD is easy for users to digest because it is familiar.

Humans are creatures of habit. Many visitors have spent the past decade or more plugging in websites with .com extensions into their browsers. Thus, they are accustomed to this extension and almost expect it when hearing new domain names.

So, it can make sense to buy the .com version of any domain you own for pure brand recognition and to make sure people don’t end up going to the wrong web address by mistake.

The pros to picking .com are apparent, but there are also some cons. The main reason you wouldn’t pick .com for your new website is you may not be able to get the address you want. When the internet and web development first took off, many entrepreneurs purchased domain names to flip them for more money. If your .com is not being used, you might have to pay a premium to purchase it from the current owner.

If you have the opportunity to get a .com, you should strongly consider buying it. However, if you can’t find a good .com, or don’t want to invest a lot of money to purchase the rights, you can take a look at other options.


If you’re a UK-based business, then a domain extension should also be on your shortlist.

The fact they’re location-specific domain endings means that they’re a great way to show customers that you’re based in the UK. (And for businesses based in Wales and Scotland there are the .wales/.cymru and .scot extensions.)

Of course, if you’re looking to attract customers from across the globe a location-specific domain name may not be the right choice.

But don’t forget, you can always purchase your domain on more than one extension and use them to target your website to the relevant audience.

3. .net

Much like the .com extension, .net extensions are open to anyone. What was originally intended for internet service providers or networks has now become a great alternative to .com. The .net might be a nice option for tech- or application-based companies because it implies network and technology.

If your business operates in those industries, .net makes perfect sense and can help validate and communicate your services. In addition, .net is in less demand than .com, meaning there is a greater likelihood that your desired domain is available.

Because many people associate .net with technology, businesses that operate outside the tech space or web-service industry could disconnect with visitors’ expectations. For example, if you operate a baking business and wanted a .net domain, you might think would be perfect. However, users might think your business provides a service for web cookies rather than edible baked goods. This disconnect could keep people from coming to your site and confuse those who do land on your domain.

One brand using .net effectively is They are a web-based service that provides an online community for people who need help with open-source web projects. It’s a collaborative community focused on networking and technology-based business. SourceForge understands how their .net extension positions their brand, and they used it to their advantage to grow their credibility and community within the IT space.

4. .org

The .org extension is also open to any person or entity, even though it was originally designed to represent not-for-profit organizations. It’s a popular option for many non-governmental organizations, non-profits, politicians and political parties, and online communities.

.org is less popular than .com, which means you have a good chance to acquire your perfect domain. These are just two of the reasons .org domains are some of the most popular on the web.

However, .org might make sense if you operate a not-for-profit or information-driven business, but it doesn’t make sense for everyone. For instance, many people associate .org with communities and knowledge bases, so if you operate an eCommerce store and simply try to convert all your traffic into sales, .org wouldn’t be the best choice.

The websites that do the best using .org focus on building and cultivating communities. For instance, Wikipedia, Craigslist and WordPress are all brands that use .org. They all provide different services, but rely on their communities to grow their brands and share knowledge and information.

5. .co

The .co extension is an interesting option if you’re looking for something a bit different. It was originally designated the country code domain ending for Colombia, but has become a popular option for global domains. The .co TLD is a familiar acronym for company, corporations or commercial ventures. This familiarity has led many forward-thinking businesses to build their brands on a .co.

Creating a website with .co makes sense if you are a business, particularly if you’re a young startup that markets itself as original or unique.

You might also consider registering a .co extension because of its domain availability. As mentioned previously, premium .com domains are rarely available. And if they are, you’ll have to pay more than you might like. However, .co domains are less sought after, which gives you more flexibility and options.

Other domain extension options

The domain extensions above are a great place to start, but they aren’t your only options. In fact, there are more than 1,500 different TLDs available in addition to the five most common domain extensions above. Below are some other popular options:

  • .app —Great for tech businesses
  • .shop —Offers an obvious ecommerce connection
  • .info —An open extension that is short for information
  • .xyz —An open extension available for general use
  • .biz —A straightforward extension aimed at businesses of all kinds

There are a lot of considerations that go into picking out the perfect domain name. In addition to finding a name that reflects your personal or brand identity — and is easy to remember and type — you must also make sure the domain extension matches your needs. You can learn more about choosing a domain name in this guide.

DNS records: A beginners guide

The domain name system (DNS) is a key part of internet infrastructure. It’s a concept that’s simple from a high-level overview, but when you get down into the trenches, it becomes very complex. Webmasters often have to delve into the world of DNS records to solve everyday problems. Fortunately, it’s not necessary to master all its intricacies to successfully manage them. A basic understanding will cover many of the scenarios you’ll encounter.

What are DNS records used for?

DNS was created to solve the dilemma that computers work best with numbers, people not so much. Its basic function is to map names to numbers, like a phone book. As you probably already know, every device, or host, that connects to the internet is identified by number, in the form of an IP (internet protocol) address that looks something like this: 123.456.98.22.

An IP address must be unique within a network. For websites, the network is the entire internet.

In DNS, an individual mapping that links an IP address to a resource is called a resource record. Resource records are collected into zones, which are stored on nameservers.

DNS terminology

Here’s a bit more detail on the important DNS terms:

Resource Record (RR)

A resource record is a one-line text description that defines a particular resource. It’s the base unit of the DNS system. A resource record consists of multiple fields separated by whitespace or tabs, in the following generic form:

name ttl class type data

Name: The host name for the record.

TTL: Time to live in seconds. This is the amount of time the record is allowed to be cached. A TTL of 3600 means the record will update every hour. A TTL of 86400 means it will take a day for changes to update.

Class: A value that describes the protocol family being used. Most often, this is set to IN, which means “internet protocol.”

Type: Identifies the resource record type, which is an abbreviation for the type of data stored in the subsequent data field. Examples include A (address) and MX (mail exchange), among others.

Data: The data payload needed for the particular type of record. This part may contain one or more elements separated by white spaces.

We’ll talk more about specific resource record types you may need to work with later in this article.

Zone file

The resource records pertaining to your domain are stored in a zone file. A DNS zone is a subset of the domain name system, often a single domain. A zone file contains the mappings between IP addresses and names within that subset, in the form of individual resource records that point to different aspects of the domain. It can also contain directives and comments. Your domain’s zone file is stored on its nameserver.


A nameserver is a specialized server that handles queries about the location of a domain name’s services, such as your website or email. You “point” your domain to particular nameservers by assigning them in your domain’s DNS settings. Typically your nameservers will be those of the company you registered your domain with, but not always. A site’s DNS settings will include at least two nameservers, a primary and a secondary. If the primary server isn’t responding, then the secondary server will be used to resolve the request.

Commonly modified DNS records

There are more than 30 types of DNS records that can potentially be implemented. Luckily, just a handful of them are of practical use to most webmasters. Those you’re most likely to encounter include:

CNAME record

CNAME stands for canonical name. A CNAME record is used to redirect from one domain name to another automatically. For example, if you wanted to automatically redirect to your EBay store, you could add a CNAME record to accomplish that. For example: 86400 IN CNAME

A record

The A, or Address record, is one of the most used record types. It allows you to map a domain name to an IP address. When adding an A record, the domain name is automatically appended to the name you enter. So, for example, if you want to make an A record for, you would only need to add www for the name value. The part is automatically assumed. Example:

www 86400 IN A 123.456.78.90

TXT record

A TXT record allows you to add text data into your DNS records. A common use is ownership verification. For example, if you want to use Google Webmaster Tools, one way of proving you own the domain is to add a TXT record containing a randomly generated string provided by Google. Google then checks to see if the record exists to confirm you control the domain.

Example: 86400 IN TXT randomstring

MX Record

MX stands for mail exchange. An MX record points to the mail server that should be used to deliver mail for a domain using SMTP (simple mail transfer protocol). MX records always point to a domain, not an IP address. If a domain doesn’t have an MX record, a sending server will attempt to deliver mail to the domain’s A record instead. Example:

86400 IN MX 10

Note that an MX record doesn’t list a host name at the beginning. That’s because it applies to the entire zone. The 10 is an extra number that sets the priority of this record if multiple mail servers are defined. Lower numbers have higher priority.

NS record

As mentioned earlier, an NS record indicates which server is responsible for processing queries for a domain. If you change hosting to somewhere other than where you registered your domain, you would need to update the NS records.

Example: 86400 IN NS

PTR record

A PTR (pointer) record, also called a reverse DNS record, resolves an IP address to a domain name. This is exactly the opposite of what an A record does. PTR records are mainly used to check if a server name is associated with the IP address from where a connection was initiated. PTR records are often used for outgoing mail servers because many mail providers will reject or mark as spam messages received from servers that don’t have a valid PTR record.

This is a little more complicated than simply adding a DNS record as a reverse zone must be set up first. GoDaddy administrators configure reverse DNS on all their email servers. If you use another provider, contact the provider of your IP address for help configuring reverse DNS.

Adding or changing DNS records in cPanel

If you’re using a hosting plan with cPanel, and decide to point your domain at your host’s nameservers, you’ll need to use cPanel to manage the DNS records. In cPanel, you’ll find an icon for the DNS Manager under the Domains section. Clicking on that will get you to where you can edit the records.

When changing DNS records, remember that there’s a lag time before the change will actually take effect. That lag time is defined by the TTL value set for the record.

For that reason, it’s a good idea when editing DNS records to first go in and temporarily reduce the TTL time. Once that change takes effect, you can make your final edits. This way, your change occurs more quickly, and if you make a mistake when entering your final record, you won’t have to wait hours or days to affect a fix.

Editor’s note: Should you use your domain registrar, or should you use your hosting provider to manage DNS records? That’s entirely up to you, and there are pros and cons to both approaches. Using your registrar’s nameservers lets you manage all domain configuration in one location. But if you use a lot of addon domains or subdomains in your hosting plan, your host’s nameservers will automatically configure the corresponding DNS records.


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