If you ever ask Google, “what are the five most common domain extensions?”, it’ll provide conflicting reports from a wide range of sources across the web.
Well, we understand how confusing all that can be. And so, we took it upon ourselves to cut through the noise and bring you the most accurate information.
Our search ultimately led us to W3Techs, which is the gold standard for web technology surveys. Here, you’ll find up-to-date reports on the market shares of the most popular domain extensions .
What truly sets W3Techs apart is their meticulous approach to data collection. A website, in their definition, must offer meaningful content or functionality to be included in the survey of top-level domains (TLDs). They also exclude sites that are essentially duplicates of other domains.
💡 What’s a TLD? It’s the highest level in the hierarchical domain name system, representing the last segment of a website’s address, like .com or .net. TLD and domain extension are synonyms of each other. For instance, in the domain www.yourwebsite.com, the TLD/domain extension is .com.
At the time of writing this article, W3Techs had sampled the world’s top ten million websites. And from that rigorous analysis, the following emerged as the five most popular TLDs:
* Percentages are rounded off to the nearest whole number.
What are the Five Most Common Domain Extensions in the World?
With a global market share of 47.5%, the .com TLD is the undisputed king of the webosphere. This, according to Verisign translates to an astronomical figure of over 161.6 million registered .com domain names .
“.com” itself is an abbreviation for ‘commercial’, which is the website type that the domain extension was initially meant for. It was introduced in 1985 by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), but its usage has since expanded beyond that original scope of commercial entities.
In fact, so diverse is today’s .com landscape that the share of commercial sites using it has dropped to 24% . Most of its users happen to be content publishing sites, which account for about 33% of all .com domains . Ecommerce stores, on the other hand, surprisingly make up just 2% .
This popularity can be attributed to the universal appeal of the .com domain extension. Not only did it feature prominently in the 90s internet boom, but it’s also exceedingly versatile.
.com is now the most memorable domain extension, with 44% of web users admitting that they’re more likely to remember a .com domain over other TLDs . And that’s not all. The same survey additionally ranked .com at the top in terms of credibility, with a score of 3.5 out of 5.
The price for .com domain name registration usually ranges between $10 and $20 per year. Some registrars, however, charge upwards of $50 for .com domain renewal.
The .org extension is another popular TLD that’ll always be featured in any answer to what are the five most common domain extensions.
While its 4.7% market share is only a tenth of what .com commands, it’s enough to rank .org as the second most popular domain extension .
It was initially conceived in 1985 as a catch-all TLD for “organizations” that didn’t neatly fit into other categories. Then over time, the .org extension became synonymous with non-profit organizations, open-source projects, and communities.
You’ll now find it being used predominantly by cultural institutions, sports teams, religious and scientific organizations, schools, environmental initiatives, charities, open-source platforms, volunteer groups, legal services, and many others.
Despite its conventional use being allocated to the aforementioned website types, the .org TLD is not restricted, though. Its principal operator, the Public Interest Registry, keeps the registration open to all types of entities.
One of the key attractions of the .org TLD is the instant trust and credibility it brings to your website. When visitors see a domain ending in .org, they instinctively associate it with a legitimate, committed organization.
The accompanying domain registration costs are not fixed. Prices can vary depending on the domain registrar, but many tend to offer special deals or discounts during your first year. After that, you’ll typically pay the standard annual domain fee of $7 to $15.
The third most common domain extension, with a usage rate of 3.7% across all websites, is .ru . This Latin alphabet Internet country code top-level domain (ccTLD) is the digital home for Russia.
Its inception dates back to April 7, 1994, following a historic agreement in 1993 known as “The order of RU top-level domain administration.”
Under its umbrella is a diverse family of ten subdomain extensions. They include .ru, .ac.ru, .com.ru, .edu.ru, .gov.ru, .int.ru, .mil.ru, .net.ru, .org.ru, and .pp.ru – with each focusing on a different subcategory of websites.
.ru and .com.ru, for instance, serve commercial entities. Net.ru, on the other hand, caters to network infrastructure providers such as ISPs, whereas .org.ru is reserved for nonprofit entities.
.ru’s current official registry is the Coordination Center for TLD RU (CC for TLD RU), which is based in Russia. Most of the registrants you’ll find here are businesses and individuals based in Russia, along with foreign entities targeting the Russian market.
The high registration rate is driven by the organic impression this domain extension makes on the local market. It’s likely that Russian internet users are more likely to trust a .ru domain name over a generic one.
So, if your goal is to establish a strong local presence in Russia, a .ru domain extension can be a powerful tool in your digital arsenal. It’ll cost you about $3 to $35 a year.
.net joins .org and .com as the third original TLD to feature prominently in debates on “what are the five most common domain extensions”. (💡 Learn more about the differences between .net and .org).
The extension itself is a shorthand for “network,” as it was originally meant for organizations dealing in networking technologies. Examples include Internet Service Providers, digital infrastructure companies, etc.
.net has since evolved into a general-purpose namespace. And with no official restrictions on its use, the gTLD now enjoys a market share of 2.9% . Many of these registered domains belong to digital service providers, network operators, and advertisers.
That said, the net extension is widely leveraged as an alternative to .com. This is where all types of businesses come when they find their preferred .com domains taken.
While it might not be as memorable as .com, it’s universally recognizable and generally more internationally credible than country-code domains. (💡 Check out our in-depth .com vs .net comparison).
The registration process for a .net domain should be cheap, simple, and quick. There are no specific requirements or documents needed.
You can expect the resultant annual bill to range between $12 and $24. If you’re lucky, you might end up with a generous offer of as low as $1 for the first year of domain registration.
Rounding out the top five most common domain extensions is .de, the official ccTLD for Germany. The term “DE” is an abbreviation of “Deutschland,” which is German for “Germany”.
This domain extension has been around since 1986, when it was rolled out for entities affiliated with 🥁🥁🥁 Germany. It’s now managed by the DENIC registry, from where it dominates 2.6% of the global market .
For businesses eyeing the German market, a .de domain extension would be a highly strategic asset. The country boasts the second-largest ecommerce market in Europe, which attracts more than 62 million shoppers per year . A .de web address can help you establish a direct connection with these local customers, as they tend to associate it with authenticity.
Your business doesn’t have to be homegrown to utilize the TLD. It’s open even to international enterprises that are venturing into Germany.
Keep in mind, however, that while you won’t need a local address, registrants are required to provide the address of an authorized contact based in Germany. This is where your official correspondence or court documents will be sent.
The cost of registering a .de domain name stretches from $5.99 to $15 a year.
Choosing Between the Five Most Popular Domain TLDs
Now that we’ve settled the question of what are the five most common domain extensions, it’s time to shift our focus to the selection process.
One thing you ought to take into account is the intended purpose of your website. Whether you’re crafting a business website, a personal blog, an ecommerce platform, or a community forum, understanding your site’s mission will help you filter through the options and pinpoint the most fitting domain extension.
Secondly, consider branding and memorability. Your domain extension doesn’t only influence web discoverability – it also shapes the audience’s perception of your brand. So, you might want to review the synergy between each of the most popular domain TLDs and your brand.
Next, examine the credibility factor. Whereas .com is universally the most recognized and trusted, there are certain contexts in which other TLDs would be more credible.
For example, an ecommerce platform might appear more credible with a .com domain, just as a non-profit organization would with a .org domain. The vice-versa might otherwise raise eyebrows (particularly for an ecommerce site with a .org extension).
Through this entire process, try not to be too rigid with your domain name and TLDs. With the market for the most popular TLDs being exceedingly competitive, domain availability is expected to be low – especially for .com options.
In that case, you could try feeding your unavailable domains to our free domain name generator. You’ll get feasible domain name ideas across an array of TLDs, along with multiple variations attached to the same extension.