If finding an available domain name wasn’t difficult enough, once you find one, you’ll have to decide which domain name extension you want. Generally, when choosing between a .com and a .net, most will want to go with the .com as it represents a commercial entity and is the most recognizable domain extension. Those in more niche areas, such as tech or internet service providers, may choose a more specific extension, like .net or .io.
Tip: If you’re ready to register a domain, keep in mind that many of the top hosting providers, such as Bluehost, include a free domain with their plans. This saves you money, and will also save you time from having to manually connect your domain name to WordPress.
What Is a Domain Extension?
A domain extension is what follows the period (.) in a domain name, such as “.com” in fitsmallbusiness.com. There are a variety of domain extensions, and they serve to categorize websites by business type, location, or content. The most common ones that anyone can use, however, are .com and .net, as they are commonly perceived as the most professional.
Domain Name Extensions Compared
Internet service providers or networking websites
Anyone can use, but it’s popular within tech
Location-based extensions (e.g., .us for the United States, .ca for Canada)
Yapp Mobile App
The Salvation Army
Academic organizations and institutions
U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs
Difference Between .Com & .Net Domain Names
The difference between .com and .net domain extensions is what they stand for. A .com represents a commercial entity, whereas a .net represents a network. The vast majority of businesses registering a domain name will find a .com to be the best fit—unless the business is a network such as an email or internet provider.
When to Use a .com Domain Extension
The .com domain extension is short for “commercial,” and it is the most widely used extension. It’s recommended that any professional entity use .com because it conveys credibility and is easier to remember than other lesser-known extensions. It is also the most recognizable and is seen as a reliable marker for trustworthiness and professionalism. For that reason, many individuals and organizations use it in addition to commercial businesses.
Given the popularity of the .com domain extension, it can be very difficult to find an available .com. In the case where there are no suitable .com extensions available, businesses may consider using an alternative domain extension, such as a .net or a country code such as .us or .ca, if it means getting their desired domain name (e.g., yourbusiness.net).
Tip: Struggling to find an available domain? Get ideas on choosing a domain name.
When to Use a .net Domain Extension
The .net domain extension is short for “network,” and it is mainly used by internet service providers, network services, online technology companies, and database providers. Since it was designed for web service companies, businesses outside this industry are not advised to use a .net domain extension. If you are in this industry, however, consider a .net extension.
It’s important to note that .net extensions are not as mobile-friendly as a .com domain. Smartphone keyboards typically only have a dedicated .com button on the keyboard, which makes typing in .net domains more time-consuming.
Tip: If you choose a .net extension, you may still want to buy the .com version and redirect it to your main .net site. This ensures you capture all .com domain traffic and prevent competitors from stealing customers.
Com vs Net: Which One Is Better for SEO?
Domain extensions bear little weight in search, and, therefore, have little impact on how your business website ranks. The only time extensions do matter is when you’re trying to rank in local search results outside the U.S. Local searches tend to favor domain extensions for specific countries or regions, such as .ca or .uk.
Keep in mind that there may be some advantages to using more recognizable extensions, such as a .com. For example, because a .com website extension is more relevant to users looking to make a purchase than a .net extension, you might find you get more clicks via Google search results with a .com domain. Conversely, if you want to target users interested in technology, a .net domain might be more effective.
Tip: Focus on factors such as directory listings, backlinks, and page content to increase your search rankings. Learn more about how to rank higher in Google searches.
Where Can I Get a Domain Name?
There are three main ways to get a domain name: through a domain name registrar, such as GoDaddy, through a web hosting plan, such as Bluehost, or through a site builder plan, such as Squarespace. Using a domain name registrar will be the most straightforward way, with a cost around $12 to $15 per year. However, with a web hosting plan or site builder plan, you can get a free domain name, so it’s worth taking advantage of if you’re using WordPress or a site builder.
Here are the three main ways of getting a domain name:
- Domain name registrars: Sites such as GoDaddy and Namecheap give you a way to register domain names at a cost of around $12 to $15 per year. It’s the best option for those who aren’t sure which content management system (CMS) platform they will use to build their site, or those who already have a web hosting plan.
- Web hosting plans: Many top web hosting providers, such as Bluehost and DreamHost, include extras such as a free domain name with web hosting plans. This option is best for those building a site with WordPress because you’ll need third-party web hosting for your site to be live on the web.
- Site builder plans: All-in-one site builders, such as Squarespace and Weebly, include a free domain name with the purchase of a plan. Those looking for an easy way to build a professional website will find this the best way to get a free domain name.
Tip: Learn more about building a small business website to determine which content management system (CMS) is right for your skill level, site requirements, and budget.
How to Get a Domain Name
Registering a domain is pretty easy. First, go to a domain name provider, such as GoDaddy or Bluehost and search for your desired domain name. Once you find an available domain, complete the checkout process to register it. While registering a domain name is easy, finding an available domain is the tough part. See if your desired domain name is available using the search bar below.
Tip: Looking for more insight? Get the full breakdown of the domain name registration steps.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How much does a domain extension cost?
Prices for registering a domain name often range from $12 to $20. The price depends on domain extension type (.com or .net, for example), from whom you purchase the extension (e.g., a popular registrar or a private seller), the registration length (e.g., one year or three years), and if you would like add-ons like domain privacy. Many hosting providers, like Bluehost, offer a free domain and domain extension with web hosting services.
Do domain extensions affect SEO?
There is no reported Google algorithm that ranks a .com extension over a .net or vice versa. However, it’s best to stick to what each domain extension is customized for (.net for internet-related or networking websites and .com for commercial websites) because they add credibility to your brand and may lead to more clicks and a lower bounce rate, which can help with search engine optimization (SEO).
Is .com or .org better?
The domain extensions .com and .org are both top extensions with different use cases. The .com, which represents “commercial,” is widely used by businesses, whereas the .org stands for “organization” and is used by nonprofit organizations. So, .com is better for businesses and .org is best for nonprofits.
Bottom Line: Com vs Net
When comparing .com vs .net, most businesses will find .com is the better choice. It’s not only more recognizable, but it also appears more credible because .com domain extensions have become the default domain extension. Businesses within certain industries, such as technology services, may opt for a more niche extension such as .net or .io.
If you are registering a domain for the first time, don’t make the mistake of buying a domain when you will likely be eligible for a free one through your web hosting or site builder plan. For example, those building a site with WordPress will need web hosting and providers, such as Bluehost, include a free domain name with all plans starting at just $2.95 per month.