iStock_000010784876XSmallQuick definition. TLD is an abbreviation for Top Level Domain. So if your domain is?, your TLD is “.com”.

A client of mine for whom we are rebuilding their primary business website asked me about the new business they are setting up. The business will have a similar name in another part of their state so they want the new business’ website to be a combination of the primary business name and the city in which it will be located. Simple right?

Except the .com of that is taken.

So they asked me:

“If the .net, .org and .co are available, which should we pick?”

This is a great question. Which TLD is best for a business? The answer must be considered in terms of whether a given TLD provides you an advantage in a search engine like Google, and whether a given domain provides you an advantage in terms of human factors; is it memorable and customer-friendly.

From a search engine optimization perspective, unless you are trying to target your traffic to a country other than the US, then any of the classic TLDs are treated the same. We are targeting users in a particular state of the USA, so none of the classic TLDs are going to offer a particular advantage.

From a human perspective, .com is preferred because it is a standard; it stands for a commercial business’s website. The .net TLD is generally the second best choice, but one of the reasons for the heavy promotion of .co is to offer businesses a more “business-centric” TLD since most .com’s are taken, which is the problem for many businesses. The .org TLD was intended for non-commercial use but has become commonly used because of the unavailability of .com domains.

Now, I would recommend the .co as the best alternative to the .com. However, in this case, it is possible that this could actually produce a confusing situation in which their clients may end up on a competitor’s website because they accidently call up the default .com TLD, for any number of reasons.

My advice is that if you do not want to worry about being confused with a competitor by having so similar a domain as them, then choose the .net.

What about other TLDs?

There are plenty of other options, .us, .biz, .ws, and literally dozens of others for US-centric business alone! I think that while these serve a purpose, most businesses should avoid them as they indicate a late-comer to the business field and may incur extra scrutiny from a search engine perspective.

Once you select your domain, it becomes part of your brand, so it is an important decision. Once you have made it, run with it, and don’t look back!