Are you wondering whether to use a .net or a .com domain for your online store?
If you’re starting a commercial site, you’ll want to use a .com extension. But if the .com version of the domain you want is unavailable, you can use the .net counterpart. We’ll explain why .com is the better domain extension for online commerce.
What Is a Domain Extension?
Domain extensions are characters that you place next to a domain name. The most popular are .com and .net, but there are other extensions such as .org and .edu.
What’s the reasoning behind these different extensions? According to WP Beginner, a WordPress resource site, “these extensions were created to distinguish between different types of websites”.
- Commercial sites have a .com extension.
- Sites used by those in the network infrastructure space went with .net.
- Organizations, especially nonprofits, use the .org extension.
- Official federal government-run websites use .gov. and educational institutions have .edu.
- There also are specialty domain extensions such as .club, .book and .agency.
(Wikipedia has a long list of domain extensions if you’re interested.)
.Net vs .Com Differences
Note that either domain extension won’t affect your site performance. Indeed, it doesn’t matter if you use a .com or a .net domain. If your domain is example.net, users will be able to access it the same way as they would if you used example.com.
However, both .net and .com have their own set of advantages and disadvantages that you should be aware of.
So, how do you choose a domain extension? Keep reading.
When to Use a .Net Domain Extension
Consider using a .net extension if your site relates to technology or networking. (There’s no rule that limits .net domains to either category. In fact, any website can have a .net extension.)
SlideShare, a document-sharing site, uses a .net extension, for example.
It’s important to mention that most e-commerce sites stay away from .net extensions and choose to use .com instead.
If you’re unable to register a .com domain name because it’s already taken, you might try registering with a .net extension.
When to Use a .Com Domain Extension
A .com extension is typically used for commercial. It’s the most commonly used extension worldwide.
This extension is versatile, meaning you can use it for pretty much any application, be it for e-commerce, blogs or even personal projects.
Internet retailers Amazon, eBay, Walmart and Etsy use a .com extension for their websites.
Specialty retailers tend to opt for a .com extension. For example, in a list of the 76 best online clothing stores by British newspaper The Independent, all of the entries use a .com extension.
There’s a downside to using a .com extension, however. If your brand name is short and uses common words, there’s a good chance that the domain name you want for your business is already taken.
For example, if you’re in the fishpond business and want to register fishpond.com, you won’t be able to. Someone already has registered that domain.
If you’re planning on opening an online retail business, we’d recommend you use a .com domain rather than a .net domain.
Domains that end in .com are easier to remember.
.Com vs .Net for Business: Which Is Best?
The best domain extension choice for any business is to stick to a .com domain.
- For starters, people are more likely to type in .com when entering a domain name. If you’ve registered a .net domain, there’s a good chance people won’t land on your page.
- Unlike the .org and .edu extensions, .net doesn’t have the same authoritative ring to it.
- At least with country-specific domain extensions such as .us (USA) or .au (Australia), users can determine where the business is operating. There’s value in using them. You can’t say the same for .net domains.
Just because we recommend not using a .net domain doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy one. Many site owners aim to buy both .com and .net versions of the domain they’re trying to register. Why? It helps:
- Let people use either .com or .net and not run into any issues
- Prevent online scammers from using an unregistered domain name to fool potential customers
- Stop competitors from accidentally (or intentionally) registering a similar domain name
- Lessen the chance of confusion among consumers
- Establish a company’s brand further
- Add all domains to their portfolio of business assets, which can add value when it’s time to sell the business.
Domain registrars such as GoDaddy encourage users to buy more than one extension.
.Net vs. .Com in SEO Strategy
The only time you might worry about search engine optimization (SEO) is when you’re trying to rank locally and you’re using country-specific domain extensions.
Like if you’re located in Los Angeles and you have a site ending in .ca (Canada). It wouldn’t make sense for Google to rank a .ca site for an L.A.-based query, right? There’s a good chance that the .ca site won’t have the information that users are looking for.
Aside from that, there’s no hard proof that .com sites would rank better than .net sites or the other way around.
It really comes down to personal preference. If you think you’ll be better off running a .net site, then you should go for it. The same goes for those of you who like a .com domain.
What You Should Focus on Instead
Instead of worrying too much about using .com or .net, you should put more thought into what the actual domain name should be. Indeed, whatever you use will have a direct impact on your SEO performance.
Here are some suggestions:
- Find the right keywords — Keywords play a crucial role in SEO. You want the domain to include a keyword that you’re trying to target. You can use a free keyword tool such as Google’s Keyword Planner to do this. Moz created a guide to keyword research if you need more information.
- Specify a location — There’s no guarantee that you’d rank in the number 1 position if you add a location in your domain. But it does help. Especially when it comes to localized searches. For example, 1 of the results for the search term “Chicago SEO” is the website Chicago SEO Firm (chicagoseofirm.com).
- Don’t use numbers if you can — Unless you’re a widely known brand, there’s a good chance that users won’t know how to spell your domain name if it contains numbers. Let’s use 7-Eleven as an example. If you aren’t familiar with the brand, you might think their website is 711.com or seveneleven.com (it’s actually 7-eleven.com). Because they’re a big brand, they can get away with it.
- Don’t add special characters — Going back to the 7-Eleven example, the dash in the domain name makes it more difficult for people to access the website. You can’t blame people for thinking their website is 7eleven.com and not 7-eleven.com.
- Make your domain easy to pronounce and read — A rule to keep in mind is to make your website easy to pronounce and read. Take the case of Pen Island, an online retailer of pens: The company’s domain name might be confusing to some users if read wrongly.
Best Providers of Domain Extensions
You can’t buy a domain without a domain extension. So that means you can use any domain registrar to buy a domain name with the extension of your choice. That said, which domain registrar should you go with?
Here are a few options:
Domain.com has been around since 2000. It strives to provide its customers with great customer service. On top of domain registration, they also offer web hosting, email, SSL certificates (adds protection for site visitors), web design and online marketing.
Bluehost is a web hosting site that has been around since 2003. They also offer domain registration as part of their services. The site offers 24/7 support so you can find help anytime you run into an issue.
HostGator has a long history of serving customers and has won numerous awards and received glowing reviews. They are a web hosting service that offers a website builder and domain registration.
GoDaddy is primarily a domain registration site that also offers web hosting and marketing services. They help entrepreneurs fulfill their goals by providing them all the tools they need to succeed online. GoDaddy has a help center where you can learn more about setting up an e-commerce website.
NameCheap, as the name suggests, offers domain name registration at an affordable price. It also offers hosting solutions and security features. This might be a good option for anyone who is looking to buy a domain but wants a cheaper alternative. NameCheap has a resource center you can use to set up a website on your own.