Deciding on a domain name can seem overwhelming. The choice can significantly affect your brand and your business. What’s more, this big decision is further complicated by the fact that you also have to choose an appropriate domain extension.
There are many domain extensions available, but two of the most popular are .co and com. Ultimately, which one you settle on will depend on your unique needs. You’ll need to consider the scope of your business, your budget, and the available domain names that are well-suited to your brand.
In this article, we’ll explain what domain extensions are. Then, we’ll explore the differences between .co vs .com, and explain how to choose between the two. Let’s get started!
An Introduction to Domain Name Extensions
A “domain name,” or simply a “domain,” is a site’s web address. In the same way you might remember a close family member’s home address or phone number, you may be able to recall certain well-known domains easily, such as www.facebook.com.
These simplified web addresses are made possible by the Domain Name System (DNS). In a nutshell, the DNS connects a human-friendly domain to an IP address (here’s how to see your IP), so servers can display the correct web page to visitors. Some people refer to the DNS as the internet’s phonebook, because it enables users to look up a website without memorizing a long series of numbers.
Every domain has an ‘extension’ or Top-Level-Domain (TLD). This is the last part of the domain name. For example, the .com in www.facebook.com is the domain extension. While the majority of websites end in .com, there are actually dozens of other extensions you can choose from.
.co vs .com: Two Popular Domain Extensions
Since there are currently about 1.88 billion websites in the world, it’s only natural that there are several organizations that monitor TLDs. Perhaps the most important of these is the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN):
Thanks to these organizations, there are a set number of domain extensions you can use to build a new website. More are being added every day, but a handful of traditional options are still the most popular.
.com was one of the original TLDs, implemented in 1985 along with other well-known options such as .org and .gov. It is the most common domain extension by a large margin and is in many ways synonymous with the internet itself. It’s understandable that a lot of internet users still assume that every site ends in .com.
On the other hand, .co has a more complicated history. It was created to be the country code TLD for Colombia. In other words, it was originally meant to be used specifically by websites and businesses located in that country.
However, this domain extension has changed hands a few times, and over the years has lost its restrictive nature. Now anyone can use it, no matter where they’re located, and it is no longer exclusively linked to Colombia.
In fact, these days you’ll often see .co referred to as an abbreviation for “company” or “corporation”. While nowhere near as popular as .com, it has gained traction in recent years and is now used by almost 1% of all websites.
3 Factors To Consider When Choosing Between .co vs .com
Now, let’s go over some of the most important factors you may want to consider when choosing between .co vs .com. If you assess these three aspects carefully, you’ll be able to make a wise decision for your future website.
Both .co and .com are commonplace TLDs. However, .com significantly overpowers .co in terms of popularity. In fact, more than half of all global websites have a .com TLD, while .co doesn’t even make the top ten.
This data is useful, but it can also be misleading if you’re not looking at the big picture. For example, it’s important to note that .com websites are not on the list of new leading gTLDs (neither are .co sites). The most popular gTLD for new sites is .xyz.
Since .com extensions are finite, trendy domain extensions are constantly emerging. Unless you want a highly-unique domain name, chances are that pairing it with the .com gTLD may not be possible. On the other hand, the .co domain extension is more likely to be accessible:
Of course, if you do stumble upon a potential .com domain that you like and that is available, we highly recommend buying it just in case. If you know you won’t be able to use it for a while, you can always convert it to a parked domain until you’re ready.
This is a smart strategy for reserving potential brand names. If you end up changing your mind, you can always let your domain expire or sell it to an interested customer.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the prices of these two TLDs, there’s no hard and fast rule for which is more affordable. You’ll have to check the costs on a case-by-case basis. For example, sometimes you may find that a .com extension is drastically more expensive:
For other domains, you might discover that the .com extension is slightly cheaper:
Since the pricing can be so unpredictable, we recommend conducting extensive research. Fortunately, the list view for pricing enables you to easily compare the costs relevant to the TLDs.
When determining your budget for your domain, you should also be aware that there are some extra costs involved. For example, unless you’ve parked your domain, you’ll need to buy a hosting plan to go along with it. In addition, you might want to purchase domain privacy protection to safeguard your personal data.
Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) when you’re deciding between domain extensions such as .co vs .com. Your TLD doesn’t make an impact on search rankings.
However, you will need to carefully consider your domain name as a whole, in order to give your website a shot at high visibility. Most importantly, a strong domain name is concise, memorable, and easy to spell.
You may also want to incorporate your primary branding and/or important keywords. It’s important not to let your desire for a particular domain extension outweigh these other factors.
When To Use .co vs .com for Your Website
Since most companies are commercial in nature, if your desired .com domain is available, you would be wise to purchase it. Furthermore, .com TLDs are usually associated with more established businesses. As such, many internet users may assume that websites with this domain extension are more credible and trustworthy.
However, if you’ve settled on a perfect domain name and the .com version is not available, .co is a perfectly valid choice. Of course, it’s also a relevant pick if you happen to be based in Colombia.
Ultimately, remember that your domain name itself is more important than your choice of extension. As long as it’s on brand and easily recognizable, you should be able to succeed with any common TLD. Don’t forget that you can also buy multiple versions of your domain (with different extensions), redirecting the secondary ones to your primary domain so no visitors get lost.
How To Buy a .co or .com Domain
In order to buy any domain, you’ll need to go through a domain registrar. These are companies that manage the sales of domains online. A legitimate domain registrar should be accredited by ICANN.
We recommend Google Domains, as it’s reliable, simple to use, and offers a number of additional benefits:
Ultimately, however, you can buy a .co or .com domain name from just about anywhere. Just remember to look for a few essentials. For example, a quality domain registrar should offer privacy protection, automated renewals, and a variety of choices for your registration duration.
Selecting the perfect domain name can be challenging, and the many domain extensions available can further complicate this crucial decision. Fortunately, both .co and .com can help you create an authoritative brand image for your site.
For most businesses, we recommend going with .com if you can find a strong domain name with that TLD since it looks authoritative and makes things simple for your target audience. However, .co is still an excellent second choice if the .com domain you want isn’t available. In some circumstances, it may even be a cheaper option.
After you register a .co or a .com domain name, you’ll want to get right to work on your website. At Kinsta, we offer hosting solutions for WordPress users that help our customers save money, without compromising on expert support, security, or speed.