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Domain Name Extensions

Domain name extensions represent different things - find the meanings of each domain name extension before you register a cheap domain name through your favorite domain registrar. Domain extensions vary in cost and use.

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When you look at an Internet address, or when you register a domain name, you may notice that while most Web addresses end in .com, there are other ending as well. You may see a .net, or a .biz, or a .org. These are known as suffixes, or domain name extensions. They are designed to help Internet users understand what a Web site is about, and provide some direction in domain name registration.

Different domain name extensions and their meanings

When you know what a domain name suffix indicates, it can help you determine the legitimacy of a Web site, or help you figure out which domain name you should register. Here are some of the available domain name extensions:

.com and .net: These are two of the most common domain name extensions (.com is more popular). These extensions are available to the public, and just about anyone can use them. However, they really do not tell you much about the Web site. It can be helpful to know that many businesses choose to register both the .com and the .net versions of their name so that another site can't create confusion or attract traffic by having a similar name. Many companies also use .com and .net designations in conjunction with each other: .com is for the front Web page and .net may contain backend Internet operations.

.org: This is another common domain name extension. In order to get this designation, you need to be a non-profit organization or a charity. It is available to the general public, but many domain name registration sites will require some sort of verification that you are a non-profit or a charity. But you do need to be careful. Some organizations that are not truly non-profit have been able to exploit loopholes in order to get the .org designation.

.biz: Because .com and .net are used so often, .biz was introduced for commercial businesses. This allows more domain name registrations for legitimate companies. Indeed, many companies are starting to migrate toward .biz, and some are adding a .biz registration to complement the .com and .net extensions they already have.

.info: Like .net and .com, .info is available to the general public and is considered "general use." It is not very widely used right now, but it does convey a sense that the Web site will contain information. However, like .com and .net, it is difficult to really get an idea of what the Web site is about from the extension.

.edu: This domain name extension is reserved only for accredited and recognized schools (elementary, secondary and higher education) in the United States. This suffix is very tightly regulated and verified. Your Web site cannot use the .edu domain name extension unless you are, in fact, a recognized school by the Department of Education. When you visit these Web sites, you know that they are accredited and legitimate schools.

.gov: This is another domain name extension that is tightly controlled. The .gov suffix can only be used on government Web sites in the United States. These can be state and municipal governments, but they have to be verified as government organizations in the U.S. One of the things to watch out for in terms of Web addresses is those that use government names and add a suffix like .com. Some sites will register a domain name like nasa.com, irs.com or whitehouse.com (as opposed to the official sites which are nasa.gov, irs.gov and whitehouse.gov) in order to draw traffic to their Web sites. However, if you want the official Web site, you need to make sure that the suffix is .gov.

Other domain name extensions: There are other domain names extensions being offered to describe different types of Web sites, even though they are few and far between. Here a few of them:

.aero is a suffix for those involved in the industry of air transportation.
.pro indicates someone in a professional career, such as a doctor, lawyer, accountants and other service providers.
.name can be used for a purely personal Web site.
.mobi indicates a Web site that can be accessed by mobile devices, such as PDAs and cell phones.
.coop can be used by cooperatives.
.museum is an obvious (and little used) designation for museums.

Once you know what different domain name extensions can be used for, and what they indicate, you can make a better decision about your domain name choice - and you can be better educated about what other Web sites are trying to accomplish.

Related Article: Registering Domain Names >>

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