.net vs .com: What’s the Difference & Which Should You Choose
Choosing the right domain extension (e.g., .com vs .net or .org) lends credibility to your business. The “com” in .com stands for “commercial,” but is used widely by businesses, organizations, and individuals worldwide. The “net” in .net stands for “network,” and is most often used by companies in the tech sector. But it’s not a hard and fast rule, so keep reading to see which is better for your business website.
Whether you go with .com or .net, finding the right domain name is easy. If you already have a domain name in mind, type it in below to see whether it’s available, or whether there are alternatives that might work perfectly for your website domain.
The Difference Between .com vs .net Domain Extensions
Both .com and .net are top-level domain (TLD) extensions of a domain name. The extension appears after the final dot in your URL. For example, .com is the domain extension of this website (fitsmallbusiness.com). Moreover, when choosing a domain, it’s not a guarantee that you’ll get the TLD of your choice, especially when it comes to popular and professional extensions like .com and .net.
Commercial entities and almost any business
Businesses in the web and technology sectors
Online stores, media sites, blogs and portfolios, restaurants, real estate agencies
Software development companies, mobile game developers, web hosts, databases, tech repair services
Average Cost per Year
Domain Name Availability
Very difficult due to its popularity
Difficult, as it’s popular with tech businesses, but much easier to get than .com
Also, keep in mind that domain extensions aren’t always straightforward. For example, nothing is stopping you from registering your tech company’s domain name with a .com TLD. However, the right TLD can further your branding and tell your audience a little bit about what your business does. After deciding on your domain name (and TLD), you can quickly and easily register your name through a domain registrar like Domain.com or IONOS.
Pro tip: The prices shown above are just averages, but many domain registrars offer introductory prices for the first year, or cheaper prices for longer terms (e.g., five to 10 years). There are also ways to get a domain name for free.
When to Use a .com Domain Extension
Originally intended for commercial websites (.com stands for “commercial”), it’s currently the most popular top-level domain extension worldwide. Anyone (individuals or businesses) can register for a .com TLD, but because of its popularity, depending on the root domain name you want, it is the most competitive and difficult to get. Still, it’s the best extension for building brand presence online.
What We Like
- Professional and acceptable for a multitude of industries
- Recognized all over the world
- Average internet users remember .com websites more
- Can be hard to get the exact domain name you want because of its popularity, especially vs .net
- Usually more expensive than .net domains
- Commercial (for-profit) businesses (e.g., GoDaddy.com, Spotify.com, Airbnb.com)
- Blogs (e.g., Temptalia.com)
- Personal sites, like portfolios (e.g., Ariesmoross.com)
When to Use a .net Domain Extension
In contrast to .com, .net stands for “network.” It was intended for companies and organizations in networking technologies. It isn’t as popular as .com, but it’s still widely used. Although it was almost always used for businesses associated with technology and the web, it’s now considered a viable business domain extension alternative for businesses that can’t snag a .com TLD.
Pro tip: The .net domain extension may be more readily available, but .com is still more recognizable, so we recommend that businesses outside of the tech sector try to register a .com domain name. Because of the competition, you may not get the exact name of your choice, so get creative with choosing your domain name.
What We Like
- Professional and credible
- Often less expensive than .com
- More availability of domain names than .com
- Acceptable to use for businesses (in any sector) that can’t get a .com URL
- May have technological connotations that can affect how people perceive your business
- It may not be as popular as a .com domain, but it’s still competitive, so expect limited availability
- Technology and managed tech services companies
- Network-related companies (e.g., Php.net, Speedtest.net)
.net vs .com for SEO
A factor that often comes up in .net vs .com discussions is whether one or the other is better for search engine optimization (SEO). Technically, domain extensions aren’t a factor in terms of how to rank higher on Google and other search engines.
This means there is virtually no difference between .net vs .com as far as improving organic traffic. From a pure SEO perspective, all domain extensions, including .io, .org, and .info, have the same potential of ranking for competitive keywords.
But while domain names don’t directly affect search rankings directly, they impact the memorability of your URL, as .com is the more universal extension thought of with websites. This can impact website traffic, influence how your audience perceives your site, or affect your site’s searchability (e.g., when someone searches online for your root domain name followed by .com vs .net, for example).
For most businesses, sticking to the most recognizable extension—.com—will ultimately get the most users onto your website. This is true even for businesses in the tech and networking sector (Gmail, Outlook, and other free business email providers use .com extensions, as do domain registrars like Domain.com and IONOS.com, for example).
Alternatives to .com & .net
Nonprofits and charities
Government entities and departments
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (www.epa.gov)
Tech companies, similar to .net, or startups and personalities that want to stand out with an abbreviation
Fintech company Moov Financial (https://moov.io/), Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign site (www.rub.io)
.us, .ca, co.uk, .ru
Location-based sites (e.g., .us for USA, .ca for Canada, co.uk for commercial businesses in the UK)
Now that you know whether a .net vs .com (or some other domain extension) is the best choice for your business, it’s time to secure your domain name. Register the URL you want for your company with one of the best domain registrars for small businesses.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Where can I get a domain name?
The most straightforward way to get a domain name is to register through a domain registrar, like Bluehost, IONOS, or Domain.com. These registrars offer different introductory offers, prices, and plans so that you can shop for the most affordable deal. Otherwise, you can usually get a free domain for a year by building a website through an all-in-one site builder, or by purchasing a hosting plan from a hosting provider.
How much does it cost to register your domain name?
A new domain usually costs anywhere from $10 to $20, but there are also legitimate ways to get a free domain name. The cost will change depending on how popular the domain name is, its domain extension, the registrar, and whether or not the domain name is already taken. Possible additional expenses include the auto-renew cost and privacy or protection cost to protect your data.
Does it matter where my domain is registered?
As long as you use a reputable, accredited domain registrar, which domain registration service is best for your business comes down to what you need. For example, you can get a free domain name in all-inclusive WordPress web hosting plans from Bluehost or in website builder or email hosting plans with IONOS, or you can buy a domain as a standalone product from Bluehost, IONOS, or a dedicated registrar like Domain.com.
Both .com and .net are common top-level domains meant for for-profit commercial entities, but the primary difference between .com vs .net is the industry of the business. .com is the more popular choice for a majority of commercial businesses, whereas .net extensions are usually used by companies in the tech industry.
No matter how you plan to use your domain, IONOS is an outstanding place to register your URL. Pay just $1 for your domain first year and get free business email on your domain, or you can get your domain free with the purchase of an email hosting, web hosting, or website builder plan.