In today’s digital world, running a successful business requires establishing an online presence. However, to create a website that generates results, you need first to understand the different elements of a website and the purpose of each.
The top-level domain is among the elements that make it easy to understand where a website is based and what it is. A top-level domain refers to the last segment or extension of a domain name — the part after the last dot. Read on to learn more about the top-level domain and how you can go about registering one.
What is a top-level domain?
A top-level domain, abbreviated as TLD, is the part of a domain name that comes after the last dot. As the name suggests, it is the highest level in the internet’s hierarchical Domain Name System (DNS).
A quintessential example of a top-level domain and, of course, the most prominent TLD is .com.
Also known as the internet domain extension, TLD helps form a fully qualified domain name (FQDN) and is key to the functioning of each website. Here are classified TLDs into three types:
- Generic top-level domains (gTLD)
- Sponsored top-level domains (sTLD)
- Country-code top-level domains (ccTLD)
They serve the same function — To help classify and communicate the purpose of a domain name and indicate the website’s content.
Notably, although .com is the most popular TLD, there are, well, over a thousand top-level domains from which entities creating websites can choose. Some of the common TLDs include:
- .com (commercial)
- .org (organization)
- .net (network)
- .info (information)
- .gov (government)
- .edu (education)
- .mobi (mobile)
The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) provides an exhaustive list of top-level domains. Most websites are not popular because they consist of less than 0.1% of all websites.
Registering a top-level domain
If you are looking to start a new website, no matter the purpose it will serve, the first step is to register a domain name, which includes picking the main text of the website and the top-level domain it will use. Your website’s main text plus the top-level domain make the root domain.
So, how do you go about registering a top-level domain? Pre-registering a top-level domain is merely an expression of interest, meaning there is no guarantee you will get it. However, you are more likely to get one when you register.
There are several registrars through whom you can register, but the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is the only organization that regulates and manages top-level domains. To register, you will need to submit:
- Your main text
- Your top-level domain extension
- Your contact information and physical address
- Your billing information
Your registrar will submit the information you provide to ICANN, and once the data is confirmed, you should be able to set up your domain and create a website.
If you are creating a website for the first time, some of the reputable domain registrars you can consider are Namecheap, Google Domains, GoDaddy, Domain.com, Bluehost, and Network Solutions. You will likely find newly released TLDs on websites of all major domain registrars.
A top-level domain is an essential part of every website’s address. Hopefully, this article helps you understand what TLDs are about and how to register for one to build your website.