What does the domain extension .IO mean?

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You may have noticed an increase in alternative domain name extensions to the oldest and most popular ‘top-level domains’ (or TLDs) .COM, .NET or .ORG; and in particular websites ending in .IO.

But what does .IO mean, and why is it becoming increasingly popular?

Well, technically speaking .IO is a country code top-level domain (ccTLD) for the British Indian Ocean Territory – similar to .US for the United States, .UK for the United Kingdom, .DE for Germany and .CN for China. However, unlike these ccTLDs, .IO is considered “open”, meaning anyone can register a .IO domain name (for a fee), not just entities of the British Indian Ocean Territory.

In fact, this particular domain name extension is used regularly for websites unrelated to the British Indian Ocean Territory, particularly in the technology industry. This is attributed to the fact that in computer science IO or I/O is a commonly used abbreviation for input/output – and has thus been used by a number of application programming interfaces, video gaming organisations and other online/technological services.

Because if this recognised affiliation and embracement by the technology industry, it has thus become a popular domain choice for tech start-ups who wish to immediately identify and associate themselves with the tech scene.

In addition to the tech affiliation, there are a number of other reasons why .IO TLDs are increasingly popular, including:

.IO is more regularly available

The issue with a lot of the more traditional or commonly used TLDs is that they’re often already registered by someone else! As a less common TLD, .IO has a lot more availability than .COM for example (with accounts for almost half of all domains in 2018) – meaning you’re much more likely to be able to claim your first choice of domain name with a .IO extension.

.IO presents a great opportunity for domain hacks

Domain hacking is when you use the domain extension to create clever words within your websites URL. For example, many quick thinking corporations have snapped-up the following domains:

  • goo.gl: acquired by Google using the ccTLD of Greenland
  • spoti.fi: acquired by Spotify using the ccTLD of Finland
  • youtu.be: acquired by YouTube using the ccTLD for Belgium
  • itun.es: acquired by Apple using the ccTLD of Spain

As you can see, the .IO domain extension creates opportunities any businesses or individual’s websites ending in “io”.

Google recognises .IO as a Generic Country Code Top Level Domain (gccTLD)

This means that Google acknowledges .IO is being used by a multitude of people and businesses unrelated to the British Indian Ocean Territory, and thus doesn’t specifically target that geographical region when showing these websites in search results. Considering Google dominates over 85% of the global search market, this is a valuable benefit of .IO domains, as many other country code TLDs are not afforded the same recognition, and are most commonly found in search results limited to their own geographical area.

.IO extension means a shorter domain name

The recent trends in domain names point toward the shorter the better, as websites strive to create a short, memorable and unique URL that is as easy as possible to type in to a browser. For example, in 2010 the National Public Radio, or ‘NPR’ launched their extremely short domain name “n.pr”, using the ccTLD of Puerto Rico.

Being a two character domain extension that can be seen as a common combination for words or sounds in both English and other languages like Italian, .IO once again creates opportunities for extremely short domain names incorporating clever domain hacks. Try our Domain Name Generator to find domain name ideas for your .io domain extension.