What is the Difference Between .com, .co, .net, .org, and .us Domain Names?

The .com domain type is the most popular one, with almost half of all registered domain names having this extension. However, .com is not the only option out there, with several other domain types having a huge popularity and following within specific locations and industries. Learn more about .co, .net, .org, and .us domains.

Every domain name has its type, which is determined by its extension. We (and servers) use types to determine what we can expect from a website even before we visit it. The domain type immediately provides us with valuable information about the website, comprising the following factors::

  • Type of content,
  • Website purpose,
  • Geographical location,
  • Industry.

Today, the lines between domain types and their purposes have become blurry and can be misleading. In this article, we’ll explain the difference between .com and other popular domains.

What Does .com Mean in a Web Address

The .com domain stands for commercial. Initially, it used to represent only companies and ecommerce websites. While they still do that, .com domain names now have a universal purpose, with most website owners preferring .com over other domain types. It’s the most popular top-level domain (TLD) in use today, with more than 47% of all domain names having a .com extension.

MORE: What are subdomains?

As of 2023, there are just under 1,600 domain extensions to choose from. Some of them are generic (like .com), and some are so-called country-code TLDs (ccTLDs), which represent a specific country. In recent times, many ccTLDs have found a global use, such as Anguila’s .ai domain becoming synonymous with the AI industry.

Among those thousands of domain types, it’s obvious that a few of them will stand out. The most popular domain types are:

  • .com,
  • .co,
  • .net,
  • .org,
  • .us.

MORE: What does .io mean?

If you want to learn more about popular domain types and their purpose, check out our video:

Generate Domain Name Ideas Below

Open and Restricted TLDs

We can also split domain types on open and restricted TLDs, depending on how easy it is to get them. For example, anyone can register an open domains (for a fee) without needing to meet any specific qualifications.

There is nothing legally preventing a for-profit company registering a .org website, or a non-network-related website using .net. In fact, some businesses choose to buy all TLD variants to protect themselves from cybersquatting and brand jacking.

However, because of the reputations and connotations that have become synonymous with these extensions over the past 30+ years, the traditional uses are still recommended and generally followed, despite not being compulsory.

Alternatively, there are restricted TLDs. To get them, you need to prove you are from a specific location or belong to a certain industry. For example, to get a .museum, .aero, or .travel domain, you have to verify that you’re a legitimate museum, air-travel, or tourism-related entity before registering. The same goes for .edu domains that require you to be a registered educational institution

Some types go even further. For example, the .gov domain is dedicated to United States government entities only, and other governments can’t use it.

Some localized and country-code TLDs require you to show proof of residence. For example, to own a domain name with a .us extension, you need to be a U.S. resident or at least have a presence within the country. The same goes for .nyc (New York City), .cn (China), .ad (Andorra), .cm (Cameroon), and several others.

MORE: How to buy domains

.com vs .co

What’s the Difference Between .com and .co

A .co domain is a ccTLD for the country of Colombia. If you think Colombians have a significantly larger Internet presence than others, you’d be wrong. As virtually everyone wants to have a .com domain, the number of available .com domain names (that make sense) is getting increasingly smaller.

That’s where .co comes in. It has become a generic TLD due to companies throughout the world registering a .co domain, taking “co” as an abbreviation for company. If you have a recognizable brand, but the .com domain with that name is occupied, you can go for .co.

Pros of Using .co Instead of .comCons of Using .co Instead of .com
Domain name availabilityLacks familiarity
Branding strategy opportunitiesLimited credibility
Cleaner and more conciseTyping errors (many will assume it’s .com)

MORE: What is a DNS?

.com vs .net

What is the Difference Between .com and .net

Although .net also has a commercial purpose, it represents a specific type of business. Short for network, .net domains are mostly used by network-based, communications, infrastructure, and technology companies. If you want your customers to know you offer networking, online, or telecommunication services, choosing a .net domain might be your best play.

While the .net domain is less common than .com, it’s still prevalent and trustworthy.

Pros of Using .net Instead of .comCons of Using .net Instead of .com
Industry associationLimited association beyond the industry
Domain name availabilityPerceived as a secondary choice (.com option might belong to a better company)
Credibility for products/services offeredPotential outdated perception

MORE: Can you change a domain name?

.com vs .org

What is the Difference Between com and org

Short for organization, .org domains are reserved for non-profit organizations. Still, it’s an open TLD, meaning that you don’t have to be a non-profit to obtain a domain with this extension. However, users have a certain expectation that comes with the extension. If you’re a for-profit organization or a company, they might see your use of .org as dishonest.

Pros of Using .org Instead of .comCons of Using .org Instead of .com
TrustworthinessCommercial limitations
Domain name availabilityAssumed non-profit nature may damage your reputation
Industry alignment

MORE: How to secure a domain name

.com vs .us

What is the Difference Between .com and .us

The .us domain is a ccTLD that, unlike .co, doesn’t have a generic use or a global following. It represents companies and individuals from the United States. To register such a domain, you need to reside or have a presence on U.S. soil. It’s great for local businesses, but if you want to achieve a global reach, you’ll need a .com domain.

The reason for such popularity of a restricted TLD is the sheer number of people from the U.S. registering a domain name.

Pros of Using .us Instead of .comCons of Using .us Instead of .com
Geographical associationLimited international usage
Great for local businessesUnable to register outside the U.S.
Domain name availabilityLower recognition

MORE: Domain name trends

Key Takeaway

The .com has been the king of domain types for quite some time, and it will remain at the helm for the foreseeable future. Still, it’s not the only popular domain extension in the world, and many other domains are popular, especially within specific locations and industries.

As a company, you might be better off choosing .net, .org, .co, or .us for your domain name instead of .com, should that fit your goals and target audience.

If you’re having trouble choosing a domain name, our domain name generator provides thousands of AI-powered suggestions based on the keywords you type in, as well as industry filters and our users’ feedback. When you find a name idea you like, our generator will automatically check domain availability across all major TLDs.

MORE: Is my domain name avaliable?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

While .com domains are more popular than .com, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re better for your business. Users associate .net domains with networking and technology companies. If you operate in that industry, you may benefit from that association.

Since both domain types are open to anyone, it doesn’t matter for SEO or any other technical aspect of running a website. They do matter in user perception. .com (commercial) domains have a more global use, while .net (network) ones are best for network services.

Both domain types are trustworthy and reliable. Still, the biggest and most reputable organizations use .com for brandability purposes. This puts the .com domain slightly ahead of .org, but a non-profit should still opt for a .org domain.

The .org domain is an open TLD, meaning that anyone can register it, regardless of their industry or website purpose. However, .org is usually used by non-profit organizations, and if you’re not one of them, users may see your use of .org as fraudulent.

It’s not owned by the United States, and you can register a .com domain from anywhere in the world. However, the domain is regulated by Verisign, which is subject to U.S. law.

If your business is in the United States, you have the ability to register a .us domain. If it’s important for you to show you’re U.S.-based and want to offer products and services to local customers, using a .us domain may be the right choice for you.

Nowadays, the .co domain is considered a generic TLD, and you’ll have no geographical penalties (such as showing up in Colombia more than in other countries). Many companies from all over the globe use .co to use their brand in the domain name. It’s a great way to increase your brand exposure globally if a .com domain is not available.


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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