How important is it to have a .com domain name?
Is it really that much better than .co, .net, .io or any other popular top-level domain?
We ran an experiment with 1,500 people to find out.
Here are our findings.
Key finding: which domain extension is best in 2022?
- .com domains are over 33% more memorable than URLs with other top-level domains.
- .com is the #1 most trusted TLD, with .co in a close second place.
- When people try to remember a URL, they’re 3.8 times more likely to assume it ends in .com than anything else.
In short, our study shows that .com outperforms all other domain extension options. But read on for more details — and to see how 7 other TLDs performed in our test.
You might be surprised.
You can also click here to get a PDF version of the full results, including a few bonus demographic-specific takeaways that aren’t in this article.
- Trust rankings
- Memorability scores
- Mis-remembrance rate
- Which domain extension is best?
- Study method
How much do people trust .com vs .org, .co and other domain extensions?
A domain people trust is more likely to get clicked on, linked to and shared.
Making it easier to build a brand with.
Here are the perceived trustworthiness scores of the 8 top-level domains we tested, on a scale of 1 – 5:
As you can see, .com comes out on top with a trust score of 3.5.
But it doesn’t win by a huge amount: the .co TLD comes in right behind it with a 3.4. Followed by .org and .us, each with a 3.3.
Bringing up the rear is .biz with a 2.9 trust rating: 17% lower than .com’s. (And .io doesn’t do much better than that.)
Key takeaway: .com is the #1 most trusted domain extension, with .co in a close second place.
How memorable are different domain extensions?
An important factor for any URL is how easy it is to remember.
The question we wanted to answer is, are people more likely to remember URLs with some TLDs over others?
As you can see, yes they are:
The .com domain extension comes out on top here again, with a 44% memorability score.
That means people correctly remembered the .com URL 44% of the time.
Second place goes to .co again, but this time it’s a wider gap: .co earned a 33% memorability score. So it’s a quarter less memorable than .com. Quite significant.
What about comparing .com to two of its oldest competitors, .net and .org? You can see it’s not even close: .net gets a 25% and .org gets a 32%.
Interestingly, .biz has a memorability score of 31%. Which is actually better than .us, .io, .net, and especially .blog (which is the least memorable, at 24%).
I was surprised to see .net perform so much worse on this test than .biz.
However, it makes sense considering that mental categorization is a major part of how memory works.
My theory is that people put the .net TLD in the same mental category as .com: they’re both general common TLDs that are often used for commercial sites.
However, since .com is the most dominant TLD in that category, .net often gets mis-remembered as .com. (This theory is supported by the next test result, which you’ll see in a minute.)
On the other hand, .biz may not fit into the same mental category as .net and .com.
Think about it:
If you see example.com, example.net, and example.biz, doesn’t the .biz version jump out at you a little? (Even if it’s in a bad way.)
That may be why .biz domains are more memorable — despite being less trustworthy — than .net ones.
Just to see all the data we have so far in the same place, here are the memorability results again alongside the trust ratings we saw before.
So far .com is winning this race, with .co in second place overall and .org in third.
Key takeaway: .com URLs are over 33% more memorable than URLs with other TLDs.
When people remember the top-level domain incorrectly, which TLD do they remember instead?
This last factor is an interesting one:
When people remember the URL almost correctly — when they remember the brand name but put the wrong domain extension at the end — which domain extension do they say?
This helps us see how much of a bias people have in favor of each TLD.
For example, if the correct URL was mattressrankings dot net but they misremembered it as mattressrankings dot com instead, that would count as a “point” for the .com TLD.
The results of this test show an even bigger difference between .com vs other domains.
Here’s the data:
First place again goes to .com, by far.
Out of all the wrong-but-almost-right answers, 57 of them said .com instead of the correct TLD. That’s 3.8 times more often than the next highest, .org.
When people aren’t sure which TLD a website uses, they’re much more likely to guess it’s .com than anything else.
In other words, .com domains are still thought of as the default.
The distant second place goes to .org, which people guessed only 15 times: 26% as often as they guessed .com.
Not shown on the chart above is the .co.uk domain suffix, which received two guesses. But it wasn’t a subject of this study (maybe I’ll do another study to cover more country code top-level domains/ccTLDs).
Key takeaway: People are 3.8 times more likely to assume a URL ends in .com than in anything else.
Conclusion: Rankings and comparison of all 8 domain extensions, plus expert opinions
Here are all three ratings for the list of domain extensions in a single chart:
Are you considering .com vs .org vs .net? If so, according to this data, .com has a sizable edge.
A closer contender in most regards would be .co, which is also one of the most trusted domain extensions as you can see above.
But .com still seems to be the best domain extension:
- .com URLs are over 33% more memorable than URLs with other top-level domains.
- .com is the #1 most trusted TLD, with .co in a close second place.
- When people try to remember a URL, they’re 3.8 times more likely to assume it ends in .com than anything else.
Of course, all of this comes at a price.
Registering a .com domain name is often much more expensive than registering a domain with another TLD:
Is it really worth paying thousands more for the .com than for the .org, .net, or .co domain extension?
As this study shows, .com domains do come with significant benefits. If you’re running an online business and can afford to buy the .com, it’s probably worth it.
But as Cyrus Shepard points out below, that doesn’t mean .com is always the best choice.
It depends on the organization as well as the types of content that will be on the site.
For example, non-profits aren’t required to use the .org TLD. But doing so has become such a common practice that wikipedia.com, savethechildren.com, and charitywater.com all look pretty strange compared to their .org alternatives.
Let’s see what else Cyrus and a few other experts have to say about these findings.
Cyrus Shepard, Founder of Zyppy.com:
“Wow, terrific study. A few things jump out at me.
1. Obviously, this reinforces .com as the standard choice of domain extensions. As the old saying went, ‘Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM’ (computers). Similarly, buying the .com if you can get it, is typically going to be your best bet. (unless, of course, a visible brand is using one of the other extensions)
2. It’s hilarious to me that people trust .co – a country code top-level domain for Colombia – more than they do .org – a generic top-level domain used by Wikipedia, non-profits, and other orgs.
3. I’d stay away from .biz domains at all cost. Not only does this survey show a low trust, I’ve seen several other studies over the years that show folks tend to associate this extension with spam.
4. Finally, despite the dominant trust and memorability of .com domains, I believe it’s still fair to use the extension that best works for you. Most of the time, that’s going to be the .com. Many sites—Wikipedia being the obvious example—use .org and other extensions with little actual downside. Of course, if you’re a smaller player, or there are other businesses with similar domain names in your space, it’s always going to be best to go with the .com, the reasons for which are made obvious by this survey.”
Glen Allsopp, Founder of Gaps and Detailed
“I had to double check the .biz numbers with Kyle as I just couldn’t believe them upfront. Nine people, who weren’t originally shown a .biz domain, thought that’s what they might have seen when asked later on? That’s really surprising.
He reminded me that only 9 of 1,500 people acted in this way but I was still shocked.
I’m really happy to see .co domains ranking highly as I naturally trust them more as well. I can’t logically tell you why (close to .com? the new thing for makers?) but it’s nice to see I’m not alone.”
Britney Muller, Founder of Pryde Marketing and Senior SEO Scientist at Moz
“It’s always been industry standard to secure a .com instead of another TLD due to it being so commonly used. The thought process being; people might forget your URL, or go to the .com site if you use a less common TLD. However, we’ve never had any research backing this theory up, UNTIL NOW!
The fact that 57 people used .com instead of the actual TLD is proof of this concept. What surprised me most is that individuals found both .com and .co to be more trustworthy than .org, (which has historically been thought of as being perceived slightly more credible). I’m curious if the equivalent .org and .us perception of trust has anything to do with 19.4% of testers living in Asia and 9% in Europe where .us might be more readily used or hold more weight?
Incredible work, Kyle! We need more studies done like this in our space!”
[NOTE: Britney’s theory is correct: people in the USA rate .org slightly higher than .us (3.27 vs 3.23), while it’s the opposite for people outside the USA (3.42 vs 3.54). -Kyle]
Tim Soulo, CMO & Product Advisor at Ahrefs
“I’m quite surprised with the ‘trust rating’ results. I thought that ‘.com’ would outperform others by a much larger margin.”
Methodology: Who we studied and how
We conducted this research using a tricky survey structure with three major parts:
Part 1: Perceived trustworthiness. We asked how trustworthy people would expect a site to be based purely on its URL, using the made-up brand “mattressrankings.__” as the domain, with the blank filled in randomly with either .com, .net, .org, or one of the five other domain extensions I mentioned above. (We did not specifically draw people’s attention to the domain extensions.)
Part 2: Palate cleanser. The second part of the survey consisted of several unrelated questions designed to distract people and find out their demographics.
Part 3: Memorability. Now that they’d been distracted for a little while, in the last part of the survey we asked people to write the exact URL they saw at the beginning. (They were not able to go back to the original question to see it again.)
Here were the demographics of the 1,500 people surveyed:
What did you think of this experiment? Did the results surprise you?
Leave a comment below to let me know.
And if you want to grow your business this year, check out my guide to how to build a high-value content marketing funnel.
90 thoughts on “Domain Extensions: .com vs .org, .net, .io & 4 Other TLDs (Study)”
I’m surprised biz only did 17% lower than com. I can’t imagine a trustworthy site using biz as a domain name. In fact, I usually never even click on links if I see the url leads to a website in .biz.
I almost bought a .co recently but a few things stopped me:
– I was worried people would confuse it with .com.
– Lots of mobile keywords have a .com or .org button but not .co.
– The EU soon won’t allow UK citizens to keep their eu domains after brexit. What if Colombia decides to change rules and only allow Colombian citizens to buy .co domains.
Great points, Benjamin! And I agree about .biz.
Thank you Kyle for a great article job well done, gave you a shout out here https://tldinvestors.com/2019/05/is-com-still-the-number-1-extension.html
I personally would rank .co the lowest as, as Benjamin said, it’s too easily confused with .com. And the most important factor here may be avoiding lost emails. If your email is [email protected], do you want people writing [email protected] by mistake? It happens a lot. That’s one of the main reasons a business will pay four or five figures for a dotcom domain when all the other extensions are available.
Plus, let’s say you’re a car company and choose a brandable name like Americar. If you have Americar.com, you can simply refer to your company as “Americar,” i.e. to the press, and you’ll know that people will probably look for you at Americar.com. But if you only have Americar.us, then you either have to refer to the company as “Americar.us” or else say “Americar” and have people going to the .com where they might find a competitor or just get a negative impression when they don’t find you there.
Those are both excellent points, Jon. I’ve also heard anecdotally that some people encounter deliverability issues when sending email from alternative TLDs like .io. So they may not only be missing out on receiving emails, but effectively sending them as well.
Thanks for the comment!
As rightly pointed by Cyrus, need to check spam score for TLD like .biz, .info etc.
Also, CCTLD can have a higher trust factor. Need to have detailed domain strategy for enterprise clients as they have a multi-country operation. For small client or company focusing on one single market .com is preferable or CCTLD.
Besides trust survey, it will be interesting to see how Google treats each domain. I have rarely found.biz, .info in the top positions.
Thanks for the comment, Bhavesh. Google has said that, aside from geo-specific ccTLDs, all TLDs are treated equally (and some ccTLDs, like .co, are treated as a generic “gTLD”).
However, since much of what Google uses to rank sites boils down to *user* behavior, there is a good argument to be made that TLD choice has a strong indirect impact on SEO. A site that’s perceived as trustworthy is naturally more likely to attract links, for example.
Notong the locations of the participants, it would be interesting to see for example how trust was with their obvious local country TLD versus everything else especially .com
whilst the .com is fairly ubiquitous
I would think that the TLDs .de .co.uk, .fr , .it .in would be highly trusted and highly relevant in each of their own locations?
Hi Steve, I deliberately avoided most country-code TLDs for this study but I plan to run another study in the future to cover more of them. I would guess that in their own countries, many perform in line with or ahead of .com.
Interestingly, .us was the opposite: people outside the US actually trust it more than people inside the US.
Who doesn’t just find a web site these days by Googling a name they know and picking the correct selection from Google?
I thought actual urls & thus domain names were basically irrelevant.
I don’t have any data on that but it’s something I’d like to test somehow in the future.
That said, even if we were to assume that 100% of people simply Google the business name, there are still other factors that are influenced by the TLD. For example, editors of authoritative sites may be less likely to link to .biz domains (I know I would be).
Some people are also confused by newer or less-common domain extensions; for example, if a less technically savvy person hears the URL “portland.events” on a podcast or on the radio, will they even understand that it’s a URL? And if they then Google “portland events”, if a competitor (maybe the holder of portlandevents.com) ranks #1, aren’t they most likely going to click through to that site instead of the one that ran the ad?
Finally, when I shared this study on reddit several people commented that they’ve had email issues with their domains that use TLDs other than .com. They believe they are missing important emails because people are sending them to the wrong domain (sending them to .com instead of .net for example), and in some cases people are also having deliverability issues when they go to send emails from their .io domain. (I’m not an expert on email deliverability so I can’t speak to that second point, but the first point makes logical sense.)
Very interesting. Our website is in facted based in Colombia but we still went for .com instead of .co because, as many others
Probably a smart choice!
Nice work with this case study – great work! 😅
This I find highly interesting.. I did some parallel work back in 2011 for my masters thesis.. Being a Danish national I naturally focused on our local situation.
You can read my results here:
I think the results of this type of survey very much depends on the nationality of your respondents.. I actually formed the hypothesis that there is a correlation between the degree of trust you have in your local government and the degree of trust you will have in your local ccTLD. Using Hofstedes cultural dimensions theory; you can look at the national trust level of the country and to a reasonable degree foresee if the locals prefer .com or their local ccTLD.
Even so; in Denmark where we very much prefer .DK .com came in very close to .dk. 2.7 for DKK compared to 2.4 for .com, on a scale of 1-5 of trust, 5 being a very large degree of trust.
This research was done before any of the ngTLDs hit the fray. But I would suspect that results for these in most western countries are lower than both .com and their local ccTLD.
Good work. Keep at it.
Very interesting, Lars! I suspected that people in many countries would trust their ccTLDs as much as (or more than) .com but did not test it this time. That’s great info and I love your angle of tying it in with trust of the government — makes a lot of sense.
Interestingly, one thing I did find is that people outside the US actually trust .us more than people inside the US. My theory as to why was that non-Americans may think .us is an official governmental TLD while Americans know .gov serves that purpose — and because .us is just not very commonly used. But maybe Americans’ distrust in their government is a factor as well!
Thanks for the interesting comment.
A factor not taken into account is who the people are and what they do.
For example if you did this with people familiar with the tech industry then a .io is a very normal domain and would likely score much higher.
Important to know your audience and what’s normal for them before choosing (like your .org examples).
Great point, Paul. Next time I run a study like this I’ll have to try to segment respondents by industry (or at least by interests). Perfect opportunity for improvement. Thanks for the suggestion!
It can be interesting when you add in the idea of language and local culture. In an area like Wales where they are strongly encouraging the use of Welsh as a 1st language, not just a 2nd language, there are a number of sites that use .cymru for a Welsh speaking site rather than .wales
If you want to please the politicians then you have one site in English and another in Welsh and you can tell which is which from the tld.
Very interesting, Susan — I didn’t realize Wales had two geographic TLDs.
In the future I’d like to run a more in-depth study to cover more geo-specific TLDs. I’ll have to keep this in mind when I do.
Un .com tiene muchas ventajas entre ellas:
1. Fácil de recordar
2. Mas valor
3. Asegura tu marca
Deje que sus visitantes te encuentran con facilidad con una extensión fácil de recordar.
De acuerdo, Jose. ¡Gracias!
co is the worst id rather use .construction that’s a real one too. xyz and biz use to be free so they are junk. net and org those just say I’m settling because I wasn’t original enough to get com first. but something like io is modern, lot cooler then net.
Thanks for the comment, Ryan.
Hey Kyle, so quick question. Is it possible for a (.me) domain to get as much organic traffic as a (.com) domain? What would be your opinion on that?
For my personal domain, I bought it 4 years ago and I’m just now starting to use it. Anyway, when I bought it, the .com extension was taken for my name but it wasn’t being used for anything, so I had to purchase the .me extention instead.
Google has stated that different domain extensions don’t have any direct impact on SEO, except in country-specific cases (ccTLDs) where they may be used for geotargeting — and even then, many ccTLDs are treated as generic TLDs. (.me and .co are two examples of this: they are technically ccTLDs but treated as generic.)
However, as my study shows, different TLDs do change people’s behaviors in ways that certainly may impact the amount of organic traffic you’ll get. For example, it’s likely that .com domains get higher CTRs. They probably also earn more links due to their higher trust factor. (Although .me wasn’t part of the study, I would guess that it performs worse than .com in those areas.)
So all other things being equal, yes I’m sure you could squeeze more organic traffic out of a .com domain than a .me one.
But that doesn’t mean it’s make-or-break. In most cases it’s probably closer to a 10% difference than a 2x difference.
However, if someone else is already dominating the SERPs for your name, you may have some difficulty ahead regardless of the TLD you’re going to use. In that case, depending on your goals you may want to create a separate brand name and use that instead (hopefully using the .com domain for it).
I wrote about my process for naming brands and websites here – https://growthbadger.com/blog-names/
Good luck and let me know how it goes!
Very helpful information, thanks for doing this.
You’re welcome, Rebekah!
Thanks for sharing this information. Which TLD is best for SEO? Is TLD affect in SEO?
Glad you enjoyed it, John. The standard answer is that aside from country-code considerations, TLDs don’t directly affect SEO at all.
But SEO is affected by humans, and humans are affected by TLDs. So I think it’s reasonable to say that a .com domain will generally end up ranking better than the same domain would with a different TLD.
.edu and .gov would most likely be two big exceptions though. And for non-profits, .org might be as well.
Very informative & educative. Thanks for this and God bless you.
Great, I’m glad you liked it. Thanks for commenting.
Interesting content on this page, I hope to continue participating and learning from all of you.
interesantes comentarios los de esta pagina, espero seguir participanto y aprendiendo de todos ustedes.
Gracias, Sole. I’m glad you enjoyed it.
thank you for sharing this important information about URLs.
Glad you found it interesting, Rohit.
Hi Kyle – really fascinating study and one that I’ve been looking for for a while. Although .com comes out best, it doesn’t seem to win by as much as I would have guessed (apart from memorability, which for an online publisher doesn’t really matter than much).
Like others, I look forward to seeing the country-specific tld study when you have time to do it.
Hi Jo, thanks for saying so. I expected the .com to make a bigger difference, too. But it still seems like a big enough difference to try for the .com when possible.
I’ve also seen other comments from folks using alternate TLDs who believe they miss emails because of it. (Since people may send emails to the .com domain rather than double-checking what the correct TLD is.)
Thanks, Mr. Kyle Byers for sharing this ultimate information. It helps everyone to choose the best top-level domain.
Happy to help, Bharat.
What would you do if .com was not available in the desired domain name but was available with a dash? For example mydomain .com is taken but my-domain .com is available. Would you use the dash in order to get the .com name or go for another TDL like .org, .net, etc?
Hi Jay, it’s a balance for sure. Personally I would look for a different name that has the .com available without a dash. If you already have a business and can’t choose a different name, then I’d probably go with a different TLD rather than using a dash.
For most of my blogs I use .com extension. Most of the people who are searching on internet thinks .com extension is the most standard domain extension.
Hi Nagarjuna, I agree. For better or worse, people think of .com as the default.
A solution to part of this problem is forwarding. I own felinesoulstudio.com and felinesoul.studio. The .studio just forwards all traffic to the .com, as though it were an alias. I use the .studio on business cards because it looks trendy, and direct people to the .com or the .studio depending on my audience.
That’s a nice solution, as long as you own both domains.
I just wanted to ask one question.
Actually, I am thinking of starting a micro-niche website focusing on Indian audience.
Is .in domain perfect for this or .com will be good?
And, is the keyword should be there in the domain name or not?
Good question. We didn’t study the .in TLD specifically, but as far as I know it’s commonly used in India. If so, no problem using it — as long as you’ll only be targeting an Indian audience. If you think you might want to expand internationally in the future, a .com domain would be better.
Regarding whether to include a keyword in your domain name: there’s nothing wrong with it necessarily, but it can be hard to do without seeming spammy. I talk more about this in my post about blog and brand names – especially part 3. The overall process laid out in that post can help you choose a great domain name even if you’re not planning on blogging.
Good luck and let me know how it goes!
I think we commenting here are domainers so we may underestimate dotco.
But the real survey was on normal buyers who often dont know what domain is. So whatever they say are the most important.
Dot co rocks too.
I agree. I think developers, founders, marketers and other tech-savvy people are less likely to care. But for the average person, it makes a big difference. Thanks for the comment, Arafat.
The .com domain is good but it has it’s cons. It’s like completely saturated. Several million names are already booked and u can’t simply find like, http://www.austin.com
So, I believe it’s better to have http://www.austin.org or any other TLD would work fine (except .biz and .xyz LOL since I receive a lot of spam mails from them)
,Rather than having some confusing name with .com, for example http://www.austinaaa.com or http://www.austinwlkr.com
There are tradeoffs for sure. But one problem with grabbing an alternate TLD for your domain is that it’s going to be hard to beat the original .com on Google for that keyword.
So if the .com is taken then a longer brand name will often serve you better anyway. Which opens up more .com options.
Very helpful information, thanks for writing this article.
Glad to hear it. Thanks for the comment.
This is what I exactly need.
Happy to hear it.
For me, .com is number 1 and .net is number 2
Yes .com domain is really memorable, eye-catch thanks for this detailed information.
Absolutely. No problem.
Very helpful information on TLDs, thank you Kyle.
You’re welcome, Atul. I’m glad you found it useful.
So how does .info stack up against other extensions, such as .biz?
I know the .info brand has historically been weakened by years of ill-advised promotions where the first year was $1 or so, jumping to the normal price on renewal. That got the domains abused for a lot of spam from folks who had no intention of keeping them for the full year, let alone permanently, but .biz is based on a rather ugly colloquialism which doesn’t look very businesslike at all.
I’d expect .info to be weaker than .com or .net but am surprised to see it not listed at all.
Hi Carl, good question. The .info TLD wasn’t included this time but I plan to include it in a future analysis.
I agree that it will probably rank somewhere around .biz.
It is very good to know about difference and use of .org and .com. We are also .com!!!
Good choice 🙂
Very helpful information thanks for sharing 🙂
You’re welcome, John. Glad you liked it.
Very helpful article about TLDs. Thanks for Information.
I’m glad you found it helpful.
Domain .co is an interesting choice
Agreed. When the .com is too expensive, the .co is a decent alternative.
I am a fan of the .io domain. Almost like IOT (Internet of Think)
Very helpful article . Thanks for Information Keep it up
No problem, David. Glad you liked it.
Almost all websites are .com. For example, Facebook.com, Google.com, Tiktok.com…
Hi Phong, .com is the most trusted TLD and it’s used by most of the major international websites, for sure. But there are hundreds of millions of sites that use other domain extensions. Including some very big ones like Wikipedia.
nice to know difference about these extensions. thanks for sharing info
Glad you liked it, Girish.
This is great intel, Kyle! I’ve been wondering about deliverability as it relates to using different TLDs, but it’s hard to find information on this. (Deliverability in general is ridiculously complex, which I was unaware of until recently.)
I’m glad you liked it, Jess. And interesting question about deliverability. I’d be curious to know about that too.
Great insights Kyle,
I was looking for the comparison between .io, .shop & .store as we’re building an eCommerce brand coz all top TLDs are not availble. And still above 3 are also listed as premium, so we’re going with .store TLD.
What’s your take on this kyle?
One good reason to avoid minor TLDs is that if all the major TLDs are taken, it probably means the brand name you’re considering will be very competitive as a keyword. Is it worth having a short brand name if your site will never rank in the top 3 when people search for it?
That’s just one of several factors to consider.
Other things to ask yourself:
– Who is your target audience? If they’re very tech-savvy, then a minor TLD will probably be fine. But the average person still doesn’t see “example.store” as a URL.
– What do you expect to be your main traffic source? Some sources display and rely on the URL more than others. (Plus the SEO consideration I mentioned above.)
– Are there any alternative brand name ideas that might allow you to grab a .com instead? I wrote a very detailed process for coming up with and testing brand names you can check out here – https://growthbadger.com/blog-names/ (it’s not just for blogs).
Overall, whether you use a .com or not probably isn’t going to make or break your business. But it does have an advantage over other TLDs.
Its amazing to know difference between these website extensions, I eager and love to know about new info and stuff
Amazing Blog. Rightly explained the importance and need of right domain name. Domain Name is something every website should choose wisely, irrespective of the industry. This blog gave clarity on many things , will surely help in choosing the correct one next time. Thanks for sharing Kyle.
Love to know about this new stuff, thanks for sharing this information with us .
You’re welcome, Suzan.
nice to know difference about these extensions. thanks for sharing info