What Does .io Mean? .io Meaning and Significance

One of the most critical steps in establishing an online presence is choosing your domain name, which also includes selecting the extension. A .io domain is an excellent choice for tech and SaaS companies, but it comes with some drawbacks. Read below to learn all about it.

Long gone are the days when everyone could get a simple .com domain relevant to their business (or personal interests) and move on. With almost 360 million registered domain names, it’s become increasingly difficult to secure a brandable domain name with ease.

Because of this, some extensions have grown in popularity and gained a universal use beyond their original purpose. One such domain is .io, which has swept the tech and SaaS niches. Let’s find out why.

What Is .io Domain?

A .io domain is one of over 1,500 extensions (i.e., TLDs) you can choose from, and it allows you to pick a non-.com domain and still keep your branding intact.

Like everyone, you’ve probably looked into a .com, .net, or .co domain for your website. We were lucky enough to get a great .com domain name that’s available, but many entrepreneurs struggle to find a unique and memorable name to start their businesses with. However, it’s not all doom and gloom.

Every domain name consists of a unique name (ours is BusinessNameGenerator) and a domain type. The type is defined by its top-level domain (TLD), such as .com or .uk. If the name is taken, you have to opt for another one, and that’s where .io domains can help you.

Check out our video below to see how you can find out if your domain name is available:


The unique part of a domain name is unique only within that type. MyName.com and MyName.net are two different domain names that technically have no common ground. However, you should still avoid picking the same name as it creates user confusion and can lead to trademark infringement.

What Does .io Stand For Originally?

A .io domain is a country-code top-level domain (ccTLD) representing the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT). In its earlier days, the ccTLD had little to no user volume and would almost never feature in search results.

Today, however, Google considers .io a generic domain (gTLD), just like .ai or .tv. It’s no longer geo-targeted to the BIOT and has over 1.37 million registered domain names.

Who Uses .io Domains?

So, who made all those registrations? The .io TLD has become popular due to the fact that io (short for input/output) is a common abbreviation in the tech world. I/O is a label for any device that can transfer data to and/or from a computer.

SaaS and tech companies all over the world now use .io domains, and the extension has become synonymous with the tech industry.

While most users still expect a company’s website to end in .com, the .io domain can give you a competitive edge and position you as a tech-related business that specializes in advanced IT solutions.

What does .io mean in URL?

TLDs give information to users regarding the website they’re about to visit (e.g., geographical location, type of content, or type of organization). In this case, users will expect a tech-related website. It also serves to communicate with DNS servers and help users reach the content faster.

Using .io for Domain Hacking

Domain hacking is the practice of choosing a domain name where the TLD is a part of your brand instead of the unavoidable suffix that bears no meaning (e.g., bit.ly, inter.net, and goo.gl). It’s one of the most popular domain name trends for 2024.

You can use the .io domain for name hacks even if you’re not in the tech industry. Here are some of the examples of .io domain hacking:

  • Last name hacks (Rub.io),
  • Stud.io,
  • Portfol.io,
  • Aud.io,
  • Scenar.io,
  • Rad.io.

Where to Buy .io Domain

With over 200 registrars offering .io in their portfolios, you should do your research to find which one suits you best. Take a look at additional features each registrar offers, as well as prices and any discounts you can benefit from.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the most popular registrars and their annual .io pricing plans:

*As of March 2024

Note that you can buy a domain name that’s taken, albeit for a premium price. You can also get one hoping its domain value will rise and sell it later for a profit (that’s a practice called domain flipping).

However, the .io extension is relatively unsaturated, and you can easily find a unique, catchy, and easy-to-spell .io domain without paying over the top. Use our AI-powered domain name generator to instantly get 1,000+ memorable name ideas for free. 

How to Register .io Domain

Registering a .io domain is a straightforward process that’s similar to any other online purchase. Before you begin the registration process, check if your domain name is available.

Check domain name availability below:

If the answer is yes, all you need to do is:

  1. Pick your registrar and visit their website,
  2. Enter your domain name and select .io,
  3. Select any additional features (such as email domain, protection, and SSL certificates),
  4. Add payment information,
  5. Complete the purchase.

Check out our video below to learn more about registering a domain name:

Pros and Cons of .io Domains

As with anything, there are pros and cons to picking a .io domain over a generic one like .com or .net. Take a look at the table below to learn what you stand to gain and potentially lose:

Tech-related: Using a .io domain will get you automatically associated with the tech and SaaS niche, making your messaging clear.Limited branding: Due to the domain’s tech affiliation, it’s difficult to use it outside the tech niche as you may cause user confusion.
Availability: With less than 1.4 million registered .io domains, it’s easier to find an available domain that matches your business name.Lower trust scores: While .io is perfectly safe, users generally give it a lower trust rating than more established domains, such as .com or .co.
Getting creative: Due to fewer competitors, you can choose a short and catchy domain name. A .io suffix also allows for innovative domain hacking.Expenses: .io domain names cost more than their .com or .tech counterparts.
Global use: Since Google considers .io a generic TLD, you can attract a global audience and scale your business easily.

There’s no right or wrong answer here; it depends on your business model, budget, marketing plan, and .com availability. Weigh all the options before making your decision.

Are .io domains safe?

While .io domains are generally considered safe, you’re still open to potential security threats, such as malware, domain hijacking, phishing attacks, and data breaches (as is the case with any other TLD). You can prevent these attacks by implementing various security measures. This can include SSL certificates, locking your domain, and using 2FA. Most reputable registrars offer these features.

Key Takeaways

The .io domain was established as a ccTLD for a group of islands that total 60 km2 (23 sq mi) and have zero permanent residents. Since io also stands for input/output, IT and SaaS companies started using the domain, making it a generic TLD associated with the tech industry.

If you’re in the tech niche, you can use a .io domain name to create an IT-savvy brand image with global appeal, but you’ll have to pay higher registration and renewal fees, and it’ll be difficult to branch out to other industries.

Make sure to weigh your options and choose your TLD wisely. It can be a valuable asset as much as it can hinder your growth.

Once you make a decision, use our domain name generator to come up with the perfect domain name for your business.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

The .io domain is mainly used by startups and SaaS companies within the tech and gaming industries. In IT, “io” stands for input/output, which makes users affiliate .io domains with tech services.

The .io extension represents the British Indian Ocean Territory. However, due to its widespread use in the tech industry, it has become a generic extension that stands for input/output. You can use a .io domain if you want to position yourself as a tech or SaaS startup.

The price of a .io domain depends on the registrar you use and any additional features you select, apart from registration itself. As of March 2024, registration prices among top registrars range from $32.90 to $52.88 per year, whereas yearly renewal fees go between $38.98 and $71.99.

No. Since Google considers .io a generic TLD, there is no geo-targeting involved, and you can use it to attract a global audience. It can only affect your SEO ranking indirectly, as users assume .io domains to be tech-related, helping you establish your authority within the niche more easily.



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