Domain Issues
What Is a Top-Level Domain? Definition & Examples

What Is a Top-Level Domain? Definition & Examples

The top-level domain (TLD) is the last part of a website address, often referred to as the “extension.” It’s like the ending of a website’s name that helps categorize and identify different types of websites.


An infographic picturing what is a Top-Level Domain

Explanation of TLD, SLD, and root domain.

For example, imagine you come across the internet address “example.com.” In this case, “.com” is the top-level domain. It’s a popular TLD that represents “commercial” websites. You’ll find all sorts of businesses, organizations, and personal websites using this TLD.

Similarly, there are other TLDs like “.org” for organizations, “.net” for networking-related sites, and “.edu” for educational institutions. These TLDs give you a clue about the nature or purpose of the website you’re browsing.

In addition, make sure that you don’t mistake TLD for SLD – Second Level Domain.

So, the next time you see a website address, pay attention to the part after the dot. The top-level domain helps you understand what kind of website you’re about to explore.

Most Popular Top Level Domains (TLDs)

Rank TLD Percentage of Websites Using TLD
1 .com 52.8%
2 .org 4.4%
3 .ru 4.2%
4 .net 3.1%
5 .uk 1.8%
6 .au 1.8%
7 .in 1.7%
8 .de 1.6%
9 .ir 1.5%
10 .ca 1.1%

*The data above is based on the top 10 million websites.

Types of Top-Level Domains

Exploring top-level domains (TLDs) can be helpful when trying to find the perfect domain name for your existing website. But here’s the thing – there are many different types of TLDs. Here’s a list of the most common types of top-level domains that you’ll often come across:

  • Generic Top Level Domains
  • Sponsored TLDs
  • Country-Code TLDs
  • Reserved TLDs
  • Infrastructural TLDs
An infographic chart showing the usage and popularity different types of Top-Level Domains

Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLD)

Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) are a category of top-level domains commonly used to represent various websites and online entities. They are typically more general and have broader applicability than other specialized TLDs.

gTLDs serve as the suffixes or endings of domain names, appearing after the final dot in a website’s address.

Here are some examples of Generic TLDs (gTLD) with their purposes:

  1. .com (commercial): This is the most popular and widely recognized gTLD, primarily used for commercial sites. It is suitable for all types of businesses, whether small enterprises or large corporations. For instance, www.example.com is a domain name with a .com gTLD.
  2. .org (organization): This generic top-level domain is commonly used by non-profit organizations, charities, and non-commercial entities. It signifies a focus on promoting causes, providing information, or facilitating community engagement. An example is www.example.org.
  3. .net (network): Originally intended for network-related websites, this gTLD has evolved to encompass a broader range of applications. It is commonly used by internet service providers, technology companies, and online communities. For example, www.example.net.

These are just a few examples of gTLDs, and many more are available, each with its specific purpose or industry focus.

Sponsored Top-Level Domains (sTLD)

The sponsored top-level domains (sTLDs) are like special VIP website addresses on the internet. They’re managed by specific organizations that act as caretakers. sTLDs have certain rules and are reserved only for particular groups or industries.

For example, you have sTLDs like .gov for government agencies websites, .edu for educational institutions, and .museum for museums.

Country-Code Top-Level Domains (ccTLD)

Country-Code Top-Level Domains (ccTLDs) are like online passports for countries and territories on the internet. Just like each country’s unique flag, ccTLDs are two-letter domain extensions that represent a specific geographical area. For instance, you have the .us domain extension for the United States, .uk for the United Kingdom, .de for Germany, and .jp for Japan.

See a full list of top-level domain extensions for counter

Reserved Top-Level Domains

Reserved top-level domains are like exclusive domain extensions kept aside for specific purposes. They’re not open for regular users to register. These special domains have important roles, like being used for technical wizardry or private networks. You won’t be able to register these domains with the Domain Name System (DNS).

For example, the domain is ‘.localhost,’ which is reserved for local computer environments, or .example, used in production networks.

Infrastructure Top-Level Domain (ARPA)

The Infrastructure Top-Level Domain (ARPA) is a special domain used for technical purposes related to the infrastructure of the Internet. It is also known as “Test top-level domains”. These TLDs aren’t intended for public domain registration or general website usage.

The ARPA domain is primarily used for addressing and managing Internet Protocol (IP) infrastructure, reverse DNS lookup and other technical protocols.

Unofficial top-level domains

Unofficial top-level domains (TLDs) are custom-made domain extensions that people create independently. They aren’t officially recognized or managed by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) or the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). These unofficial TLDs are usually used by specific groups or individuals who want their own unique web addresses.

Since these unofficial TLDs aren’t part of the official internet system, they might only work in some places or be recognized by all websites. They’re like private clubs, meant for specific networks or private organizations.

So, while they can be fun, it’s important to know that they might not work like regular web addresses and could cause compatibility issues.

Who is Responsible for Managing TLDs?

When it comes to managing top-level domains (TLDs), there are two essential organizations involved: the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

The IANA handles the technical side of TLDs. They’re responsible for things like adding or removing TLDs from the internet’s domain name system. Think of them as the behind-the-scenes wizards who keep everything running smoothly.

On the other hand, ICANN is like the guardian of TLDs. They oversee the overall management and make sure things are fair and square. They create rules and guidelines for how TLDs are created and operated and keep an eye on domain name registrars to ensure they’re doing their job properly.

In a nutshell, IANA takes care of the technical magic, while ICANN keeps everything in check and ensures that TLDs work well for everyone on the internet.

What is the purpose of the different TLDs?

Different top-level domains (TLDs) have specific purposes. They help sort and classify websites based on what they’re all about. When you see a TLD, it gives you an idea of what to expect from a website before you even visit it.

TLDs also help to establish trust. They make a website look more authentic and credible, especially when associated with a specific industry or community. So, top-level domain extensions organize the internet and make it easier for people to find what they want.

Does the Top-level Domain Affect SEO?

The top-level domain extension (TLD) you choose for your website doesn’t directly affect SEO rankings. Search engines care more about good content, relevance, and user experience. Keywords in the domain names used to matter, but not so much now.

However, some TLD factors can indirectly impact SEO. Country-specific TLDs work better for local searches, and your choice of site TLD can affect user trust. Focus on content quality and user experience while picking a TLD that fits your target audience and builds trust.

Main Takeaways:

  • TLDs are the last part of website addresses, helping categorize and identify different types of websites.
  • There are different types of TLDs, including gTLDs, sTLDs, and ccTLDs, each serving specific purposes.
  • TLDs play a role in organizing the internet, establishing trust, and aiding website discovery, but they do not directly impact SEO rankings.


Top-level domains (TLDs) are the last part of website addresses that categorize different types of websites. There are various types of TLDs, but they don’t directly affect SEO rankings. Search engines care more about good content and user experience.

However, country-specific TLDs can help with local searches. When choosing a TLD, focus on content quality and user experience, and pick one that fits your target audience. TLDs are important for organizing the internet and building trust with users.

Understanding the TLDs will help you a lot when deciding on domain names. After all – choosing the perfect domain name is a big challenge when building a successful online presence.

Share This Article