What Does .io Mean? Its Pros and Cons

When you set up your first business, choosing the right top level domain (TLD) is an important decision. But it can be tricky to understand the extension types. Here we will take a look at what .io means and how to use it.

Technically speaking, .io  is a country code top-level domain (ccTLD) for 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 British Indian Ocean Territory.

Why Would I Use a .io Extension? 

The .io domain name extension is used regularly for websites unrelated to British Indian Ocean Territory, particularly in the technology, SaaS or startups industries. 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 organizations, and other technological services.

Because of this recognized affiliation and embracement by the technology industry, it has thus become a popular top level domain (TLD) choice for tech startups who wish to immediately identify and associate themselves with the tech environment.

MORE: How to buy a domain name 

Pros of .io Extensions 

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

.io Extensions Are More Readily 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 more than half (52.8) of all domains in 2022) – meaning you’re much more likely to be able to claim your first choice of the 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 website’s 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 for any businesses or individual’s websites ending in “io”.

MORE: Domain name trends

Google Recognizes .Io as a gccTLD

This means that Google acknowledges that .io is being used by many  people and businesses unrelated to the British Indian Ocean Territory and, as a result, it 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

Google suggests that shorter names are better, as websites strive to create a short, memorable and unique URL that is as easy as possible to type into a browser. 

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 short domain names incorporating clever domain hacks. Try our Domain Name Generator to find domain name ideas for your .io domain extension.

MORE: Learn about domain name systems

Cons of .io Extension

There could also be some potential cons of using a .io domain name for your business, including: 

Customers May Not Trust Your Domain 

It’s widely reported that consumers trust domain names that they are familiar with. So when it comes to choosing an domain name extension, a .com extension will likely hold more consumer trust than an .io extension. 

Memorability of Your Domain Name 

And it’s not only trust that a .com domain might give you, Growth Badger research from 2022 showed that a .com TLD made the domain 33% more memorable compared to other extensions. 

High Costs of an .io Extension 

.io domains have increased in popularity in recent years with lots of tech startup using them, this has driven up the costs. As a result, you may find that a .io extension may cost you more money. Hence, it’s worth assessing the cost and domain value versus the business benefits you may get. 

.io costs vs .com costs

According to Google, the domain costs are as follows: 

  • .io: $60 a year to register a domain and $60 to restore a domain. 
  • .com: $12 a year to register a domain and $80 to restore a domain. 

MORE: Learn about the different domain types

Key Takeaways 

Historically, .io is a country code top-level domain (ccTLD) for British Indian Ocean Territory. However, unlike other ccTLDs, Google sees it as a generic top-level domain so anyone can register a .io domain name (for a fee), not just entities of British Indian Ocean Territory.

Whether a .io domain is best for your business will depend on your business needs. And you should consider the above pros and cons such as availability, cost and memorability to help you make the decision.

In the meantime, if you are looking for the perfect brand name, try our Domain Name Generator tool to help you find 1000s of domain name ideas. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Due to the growth in popularity of .io extensions in the tech and startup space, if you plan to use a .io extension it’s worth doing your market research to check if the address appeals to target markets outside this niche. As mentioned above, it could affect the trust and memorability of your website.

In simple terms, .io stands for input/output in the field of computer science. This is why the uptake of this extension has been popular in technology and startup companies.

Yes they are safe. Although people might be less familiar with .io domains, this doesn't mean that they are unsafe to use. However, research into domain names suggests that people may trust your site more if you have a .COM domain. To check if your domain name is safe. you should look out for ICANN-accredited providers that give you a SSL certificate.

Some popular sites with a .io address, include: Coke.io Yahoo.io Google.io Github.io Greenhouse.io And although they don’t all actively use them for their main site, they have reserved the addresses for future use.


Miloš Soro

Miloš Soro

Miloš Soro is a content writer dedicated to the technical side of running a business. He is our expert on domain names, eCommerce, and product development. Soro combines his six years of writing experience with an educational background in IT and is interested in the latest technology trends to provide his readers with the latest insights.

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