This article is part of a larger series on Small Business Websites.
There are dozens of different domain extensions you can choose from, and yet .org and .com are the two most trusted worldwide. While anyone can register for either, that doesn’t mean they’re interchangeable. A quick rule is that .com (commercial) is often used by for-profit businesses, while .org (organization) is mostly used for charities, groups, and organizations. Keep reading to find out whether the .org or .com best represents your business website.
.Org vs .Com at a Glance Comparison
Both .org and .com are top-level domains (TLDs), or the extensions appearing after the final dot in a URL. Other common TLDs are .net and .edu. All these will give your URL a professional appearance. However, due to their popularity, you may not get the exact URL you want to register for.
Organizations, charities, and nonprofits
Commercial entities and businesses
Domain Name Availability
Limited, but less competition than .com
Difficult, due to its popularity
Once you zero in on a website name for your business, you can head to a domain registrar like Bluehost to purchase your domain.
Note that these aren’t hard and fast rules. For example, there aren’t any limitations to your domain name extension, and a for-profit business can use a .org. However, this may affect how people view your business, so keep that in mind.
Costs are also not so black and white. Domain names can cost as low as $1.99 per year to as much as hundreds of dollars, depending on the domain extension you want and the registrar you buy it on. Typically, .org and .com domain extensions cost around $10 per year to maintain.
When to Use a .Com Domain Extension
“.com” stands for “commercial,” as it was initially intended for commercial businesses. Like .org, anyone can register for a .com domain, and it is the most popular (and one of the most professional) top-level domains to use. Because of its popularity, registering for a .com domain name can get competitive, so be creative with how you create your domain name.
When to Use a .Org Domain Extension
“.org” stands for “organization.” It isn’t as popular as .com, but it’s still a commonly used domain. There’s nothing stopping you from registering a .org extension. Many organizations and other nonprofits use .org, and it’s often associated with charities and foundations. As a small business, it’s best to find a suitable .com name to register.
Where Do I Purchase a Domain Name?
Once you’ve decided on your business’ domain name, the next thing to do is to head to a registrar to purchase it. A domain registrar allows you to purchase and register a domain name, but all domain names from all registrars are stored in the domain name registry. This means that choosing a registrar isn’t the biggest deal in the world—after all, everything ends up in a centralized registry.
Here are a few of the best places to get a domain name:
- Domain name registrars (e.g., GoDaddy, Google Domains)
- Web hosting providers (e.g., Bluehost, DreamHost, GoDaddy)
- All-in-one website builders (e.g., Squarespace, Wix)
Registrars do differ in some things. Namely, the extensions they offer, the services they add on (like more privacy), the prices they charge for the domain, and the duration of time your name is registered. The most important things are to make sure that the registrar you choose is ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) accredited—this is the organization that handles all domain names—and that your chosen registrar has favorable terms and conditions.
Pro tip: Take into consideration the ease of use and customer support of a domain name registrar. These are important if you ever want to renew or transfer your domain name. Registrars like Bluehost make it easy for anyone to register a domain name, even a complete beginner.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Which domain extension is best?
Domain extensions aren’t as important as the domain name itself, but it’s still good to keep in mind the purpose of your website when choosing a domain extension. Commercial businesses should almost always go with .com, while nonprofit entities would benefit more from .org. Other popular and trusted extensions are .net, .edu, and various location-based extensions like .us and .uk.
How much does a domain cost?
The average domain name costs around $12 per year. However, domains range in price from a couple of dollars to thousands, depending on the domain name you want and the registrar you choose. For example, extensions like .club and .site are much cheaper than popular extensions like .org and .com.
Remember that people trust popular extensions more, so factor that in before buying a cheap name. Also, you can get .com domains for free through web hosting plans, such as those from Bluehost, which is a great way to save money.
How do I buy a domain name permanently?
Unfortunately, you can’t buy a domain name permanently, and name registrations happen yearly. You can purchase a domain name for up to 10 years on certain domain name registrars, but most will offer one- to three-year payment options.
To ensure that you don’t forget to register year after year and risk losing your domain, many registrars like Bluehost allow you to set up automatic renewals.
Part of building your business’ online presence is choosing a domain name and extension that suits it perfectly. There are millions of websites with a .org or a .com domain name, so it may be hard to get the exact one that you want, but with enough creativity and luck, you can get one for your small business.
In case these two extensions are out of your budget, remember that you can bring down the costs by shopping around and finding bundle deals. Bluehost, for example, offers hosting plans with a free domain name for as low as $2.95 per month.