If you are a website owner, you surely know how important a domain name is for your overall online brand. Did you know that a domain name has a structure of different elements? In this article, we will cover one of them and answer the question of what is a TLD.
Stick around to learn all about it!
What is a TLD?
A top-level domain is the last segment of your domain name, the element located after the last dot. As it is located in the ending, it is also known as a domain suffix.
Before going further, you should know that a domain name is divided into three levels – the subdomain located in the front part or the left side, the second-level domain or label located in the middle, and the top-level domain located at the back, or the right side of the domain name.
A domain name which has a second and top-level domain constitutes a Fully Qualified Domain Name.
To make it clearer, let’s break down an example domain name – sub.example.com.
- sub – is the subdomain
- example – is the mid-level domain
- .com – is the top-level domain
All of these domain levels are separated with a “dot”.
As you can see, the top-level domain is .com – it shows that the site is a commercial site.
Domain name aspects, especially TLDs, are coordinated by The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers or ICANN.
ICANN oversees all types of top-level domains according to what the website is associated with. As the top-level domain of a website must adhere to it, we can see what a website is about through its TLD.
The Different Types of Top-level Domains
ICANN classifies TLD into four main categories based on the website’s purpose, owner, and geographical location, namely:
1. Generic Top-level Domains: gTLD
The gTLD is the most common domain that allows all range of users to register. The most familiar examples of this type of top-level domain are:
- .com – for commercial sites
- .org – for organizations
- .net – for networks
- .xyz – for general use
- .name – for individuals
- .biz – for businesses
- .info – for information platforms
However, there are gTLDs that are restricted to certain users: they’re called sponsored top-level domains.
2. Sponsored Top-level Domains: sTLD
The sTLD is a type of generic top-level domain that is handled by private organizations. Users who want to register their site under this domain should comply with certain rules. Some of the sTLD examples are:
- .gov – for U.S governmental sites
- .edu – for educational institutions
- .int – for treaty-related purpose international organizations
- .mil – for the U.S. military
- .mobi – for mobile product and service websites
- .jobs – for legal companies or organizations
- .tel – for internet communication service websites
- .post – for postal service sites
- .asia – for the Asia-Pacific region based websites
3. Country Code Top-level Domains: ccTLD
The country code TLD notes the location or territory ISO code. The ISO code is a two-letter code representing the name of certain areas. Common examples of this kind of TLD are:
- .es – Spain
- .ru – Russia
- .us – United States
- .ca – Canada
- .nl – Netherlands
- .de – Germany
- .fr – France
- .in – India
- .ch – Switzerland
- .jp – Japan
- .cn – China
- .br – Brazil
- .id – Indonesia
4. Infrastructure Top-Level Domain
The one and only infrastructure top-level domain available is ARPA. It stands for Address and Routing Parameter Area. It is reserved by IANA for IETF or Internet Engineering Task Force. Therefore, it is only used to solve technical infrastructure issues.
Apart from examples of the top-level domains mentioned above, the complete list of TLDs is available on the IANA’s (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) website.
What Is the Purpose of Top-level Domains?
Since top-level domains are categorized based on what the website is associated with, it can be used to identify the website’s purpose, owner, or geographical location – without even seeing the website’s content.
For example, the top-level domain .edu indicates that the website is used for educational purposes or owned by educational institutions.
One thing that should be noted is that several websites could share the same name but different top-level domains. So, it can be said that “example.com” is not the same with “example.edu”.
When registering a domain name you must double check the mid-level domain name to ensure its availability and make sure that you pick an appropriate top-level domain for your website.
As you can see, a top-level domain, or TLD, is the suffix of your domain name. A TLD can help to identify your site’s purpose and even its geographic location.
There are four main categories of TLDs classified by ICANN, and each of the categories is defined by what the website is associated with. They are:
- Generic Top-level Domains (gTLD)
- Sponsored Top-level Domains (sTLD)
- Country Code Top-level Domains (ccTLD)
- Infrastructure Top-Level Domain (ARPA)
It is really important for you to know and understand what TLD is, so you can pick the most appropriate one for your website.
Hopefully, you can be more mindful about your site’s domain name – especially your TLD – after reading this article!