What is the Difference in .net vs .com Domains? | Elegant Themes Blog

The decision to buy a domain name often comes down to deciding between .net vs .com. While there is a slew of other extensions out there, these two are still considered “standard” for URLs. But is there a difference between them? Is one better than the other?

The one you choose can influence everything from how easy it is to find your website to how consumers view your brand. In this article, we try to sort out .net vs .com‘s similarities and differences, pros and cons, so you can make the best decision possible for your site.

What is a Domain Extension or TLD?

A domain extension is the end part of a URL, placed after the primary domain (also called the second-level domain or SLD/2LD). For example, in elegantthemes.com, the primary domain is elegantthemes and the domain extension is .com. A primary domain without an extension is incomplete — you can’t buy one like that or set up a website without the extension. No one can use https://.com.

(Want a full overview of domain names? Here you go.)

You may hear “TLD” used interchangeably with “domain name extension.” TLD stands for “top-level domain,” and the two terms refer to the same thing: that last part of a URL. What comes after the “dot.” Note that this doesn’t have anything to do with a subdomain — we have a whole article dedicated to that topic.

Types of Domain Extensions: .net vs .com and Beyond

In addition to .com, there are a lot of extensions to choose from, like .net, .org and .us. There are more unique ones, too, like .best, .ist and .site. And if you want a domain extension that clarifies the type of business you have, you could choose something like .investments or .vacations.

The TLD doesn’t impact how well a website performs on a technical level or how easily search engines can find and rank it.

However, it can affect your website’s SEO. For example, a TLD like .biz doesn’t carry the same authority as something like .com or even .co. People may not trust it enough to click on it, which can impede traffic. You can check out this article if you want to learn more about the connection between your domain name and SEO.

Domain Showdown: .net vs .com

While it’s the most known, .com isn’t your only option. If you’re considering a different domain extension — .net in particular in the case of this article — we’re here to tell you the pros and cons of each TLD. Before we get into that, though, .com and .net share a few of the strengths they share:

Now let’s talk about each TLD, including their pros and cons.

An Overview of .net

Originally intended for internet providers (“net” is short for “network”), the .net TLD is a lot more general than it used to be. All sorts of websites use the extension today, not just ISPs. However, some in-the-know folks will still assume that a .net website is in the tech or web industry. So be careful using it in that regard. It might cause a misunderstanding or misbranding for a select set of visitors.

If you (a) have a tech/web-focused site or (b) your site can’t possibly be confused with one (it doesn’t have terminology that could be mistaken as tech-centric), you’re probably fine buying a .net. Also, some sites that have a network — meaning a community — of people involved will use .net, like Behance.

Pros of the .net Domain Extension

Cons of the .net Domain Extension

An Overview of .com

While .com was once designated for use by commercial organizations (“com” for “commercial”), it’s now the gold standard of domain extensions. More than 53% of all websites use it! When most people go to register a domain name, they’re hoping that .com is available and affordable.

Pros of the .com Domain Extension

Cons of the .com Domain Extension

How to Choose a Domain Name: Thinking Past .net vs .com

While the TLD is important, it’s not as important as the primary domain name, or the SLD. Your primary domain can make or break your website SEO, regardless of the TLD. It’s a big part of your branding and marketing, and it should be chosen carefully. A great domain name will name your business (in full or in part) and communicate what it’s about.

Here are a few domain name best practices to follow:

Relatively unknown businesses should put a clarifying word or two in the domain name so users know what to expect. You already know that Starbucks sells coffee, so they don’t need to clarify that in the URL. But an independent coffee shop named Joe’s will do better with joescoffee.com than just joes.com. Also, adding a modifier can give you more TLD options, possibly even .com.

How to Register a Domain Name

You can get a domain name from a domain name registrar, and sometimes your host may also offer domain registration. Which companies you go with for domain and web hosting depends on your needs. At times, you may get your domain name from a dedicated registrar or a web host that offers domain registration but then actually host your site with another provider. Or, you may opt to bundle the services and get it all from one host. Some hosting plans include free domain name registration, too.

If you’re not ready to make a website but you want to secure a domain name so nobody grabs it first, you can register the domain name and then get web hosting later. When registering a domain name, you’ll choose how long you want it registered for before it expires or it’s time to renew. Usually, the longer the duration, the less expensive registration will be.

We have a few articles that can help you out during these stages:

If you’re using Divi, consider one of our hosting partners. SiteGround offers domain registration services along with web hosting, so you may want to start there.

Handshake Domains

Also note that there’s something called a “handshake domain.” We’re going to quote B2C here to explain what this is:

Handshake (HNS) is a decentralized peer-to-peer network domain naming protocol that is aiming to fundamentally change the internet’s domain naming system landscape.

While Handshake is experimental (for now, at least), some people gravitate toward it because it’s believed to be safer than traditional registries. Some domain registrars, like Namecheap, currently offer handshake domains with extensions like .oh and .saas.

Final Thoughts about .net vs .com

For most people, a .com domain extension is going to be the best choice. That is, if it’s available. The .com is authoritative, recognizable, trustworthy. However, they’re also hard to come by, so if the domain you want is for sale, scoop it up.

However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t register a .net, too. It’s common for businesses to purchase both domains so that nobody else can, then redirect the .net one to their main .com URL. This sort of domain protection means that someone can’t register a .net with your primary domain (or something similar) and try to steal your traffic.

When it comes to .net vs .com, there’s a hierarchy. Always go for a .com when you can, even if you have to tweak your domain name to find one that’s available. Opt for a .net if the .com isn’t available. And if you’re worried about competitors or you have a tech-focused business, snag the .net even if you buy the .com.

What made you choose your domain name when it came to .net vs .com? Let us know in the comments!

Featured Image via Indie Design / shutterstock.com

This content was originally published here.