February 12. 2019
If you're reading this, you're *most likely* familiar with the most popular top-level domain (TLD): .com. It has and most likely will maintain the #1 spot of top-level domains for a while, but do you need to register a .com domain as opposed to another suitable alternative like .net, .us, or .xyz?
Before we conclude whether or not you need a .com domain, lets look at why it's the most popular and how that came to be.
In 1985, .com was introduced in one of the first sets of top-level domains along with .gov, .org, and .edu. As each TLD had a particular niche, .com was meant for commercial websites. Naturally, as there are many more commercial uses on the web than governments, organizations, and educational institutions, respectively, .com was widely adopted for most websites.
But why aren't other commercial domains more popular today? Well, that's mainly due to .com being one of the first introduced and had been cemented as the standard domain once most of the public was able to come online in the 90s. Today, there are currently 113 million .com domains registered, although a lot of these are unused, as it used to be common practice (and still is in some cases) to buy up very general or popular domains and resell them at a much higher price (looking at you GoDaddy).
Okay, so maybe your domain of choice has already been snatched, or you want to break standards by getting a different TLD, but what makes your domain good? Brandability.
Your domain needs to represent you, and sometimes .com just doesn't make the cut. Sure, if you have a photography business and you can get the point across before the .com, then that might be suitable for your business. However, you don't want your domain to be too long or it won't be memorable. In this case, something like "example.photos" might be better than "reallylongdomainname.com".
In addition to the branability of your domain, how users access your website can be a crucial factor in deciding whether or not you need a.com domain. Today, we have advanced search engines and links to other websites EVERYWHERE. Maybe your website is mainly accessed through links such as referrals or through search engines, in which case having a .com domain over an alternative has virtually no impact, as users aren't directly typing your domain into their browser.
So do you really need a .com domain? In my opinion, no, however this is really a case by case decision. Most importantly, with so many tools and mediums to access websites today, the impact of your domain isn't really classified by the popularity of the TLD, such as DigiFox Studios using a .us domain. Although .com looks to be the TLD of choice for years to come, don't be afraid to explore suitable (or possibly better) alternatives!
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