What is a top-level domain? The final section of a domain, or in simpler terms, the text that is instantaneously included after the ‘dot (.)’ symbol is termed top-level domain names. For instance, the top level domain name of any particular website named “www.thisisanexample.com” would be .com.
Crucial facts about top-level domain names
Abbreviated as TLD, this service can be categorized into various sub-sections but this primarily depends on the region, purpose or mission of the website in addition to other relevant criteria. However, top-level domains usually belong to either one of two broad categories; which are general TLDs or country-specific TLDs. General TLDs refer to those that include .biz, .org, .net, .edu, .com, etc. Names that are specified according to a country is a top-level domain that would differ according to each geographical territory in which it originated such as .au, .za, .lk, etc. Essentially, this unique service would serve the purpose of recognizing an element or specific function of a website. This could be its purpose (business, association, educational entity, a charity organization, etc.) or the country of origin.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, otherwise known as ICANN is the organization who has been given the primary task of ensuring a secure and unified internet as well as introducing new top-level domain names. The technical branch of ICANN which is the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, otherwise known as IANA carries out tasks related to the DNS root zone.
DNS is short for Domain Name System. The process of translating a hostname of a given website into a more technical numerical system which is an IP address is done through the DNS. An IP address, otherwise known as Internet Protocol address is an identifier in the form of a series of distinguishable numbers that helps in identifying every machine on a network separately. The difference between a DNS and a DNS root zone is that a DNS root zone is created primarily and solely for the purpose of putting in place operators for top-level domains. It is basically the utmost level of the DNS hierarchy in the system.
Key categories of top-level domain names
ICANN classifies top-level domain names in the following categories; generic top-level domains, generic restricted top-level domains, sponsored top-level domains, country code top-level domains, and reserved top-level domains.
Generic TLDs are the usual names everyone has heard of such as .com, .org, .net, .info. Generic restricted TLDs are those with limited eligibility such as .biz, .name and .pro.
Sponsored TLDs or sTLD are put forward and sponsored by private organizations. Examples of sTLD include .aero, .asia, .cat, .edu etc. As mentioned earlier, country code top-level (cTLD) domains depend on the country in which the website originated. cTLDs are only two letters long such as .nz (New Zealand), .au (Australia), .uk (United Kingdom), etc. Finally, reserved TLDs are set aside by ICANN for special purposes such as testing and infrastructure.
An overview of TLD domain registration
Those interested in creating a top level domain name has to go through a process of TLD domain registration. This process is carried out through a domain name registrar that is attributed to ICANN, for example, through brands like Domain.com, BlueHost, and NameCheap. It is possible to check if the domain name requested is available through a domain search.
A TLD registration will require the information such as the domain name, TLD extension, and contact information of the user as well as billing information. A top-level domain will then be provided after approval of the given information by ICANN is given. In addition to this, a domain reseller sometimes acts as a third-party company that provides TLD domain registration as a service through a registrar. It is important to note, however, that not every domain reseller is accredited to ICANN and therefore, cannot be guaranteed in providing reliable service to a user.
Another feature is known as email domain also exists as an extra addition to the feature of top-level domains. An email domain is simply a customized email account that uses your own domain instead of a general one. There are several benefits of creating and maintaining one of these services. An email consisting of a customized domain name can look more professional and has the ability to boost the general image of a business or organization.
This leads us to the next big question: how does one create an email domain? Generally, most web hosting providers offer email domains as part of their overall package. A web hosting service refers to the internet service provider that offers space in a server to create and maintain a website (among other services). For instance, some web hosting services will allow users to create around 10 domain email accounts under the domain name of the website. If the web hosting service does not provide email domains as part of the package, other email domain registrars will provide the service independently.
Have you ever heard about that TLDs a few decades back?
In the early days of information and communication technology, TLDs did not exist. Instead, they arose out of the need to categorize domains and distinguish them from each other. Top level domains, also known as domain extensions help in the overall identification of a particular website’s purpose, owner and/or geographical area. At present, the most widely used top-level domain is the widely used “.com” (short for commercial) TLD. Top level domain names can be extremely useful for businesses and organizations since prospective clients, customers and anyone looking to find more information can easily find the respective business or organization online.
Thousands of users across the globe have expressed their interest in creating and maintaining a TLD, mostly generic ones. A generic name would usually mean that a business or cooperation would prefer “.brand” for usage on their website and official emails. Note that .brand would mean that instead of the usual .com or .org names, it would be replaced by a shortened version of the name of their company or organization. Apart from it giving a polished and professional look, personalized and generic names of this sort are generally known to benefit small, local businesses. It is the primary strategy for those looking to improve and develop their branding and moreover, a unique domain name can also improve the probability of a particular website to top search lists online.
Hence, personalized TLDs really do offer much in terms of recognition, especially in the online community. It would help immensely in establishing like-minded networks and add a professional look to a company profile. It is also an indirect guarantee to those visiting the website that is a verified site, is authorized by the necessary authorities and also negates any doubt that the site contains any type of malware or phishing tendencies. Having a generic TLD would also mean a higher level of security since the website would require certain protocols for users to follow and certain permissions that only the administrator of the site can approve.