A domain name is a vital part of your online presence. However, many different options are available, ranging from the classic .com to .io. Therefore, learning about .io can be an important first step in choosing a domain name.

Fortunately, this knowledge comes with a slew of potential benefits. By understanding the basics of the .io extension and why you might want to use it, you can find the perfect name for your website.

In this article, we’ll answer the question “what is .io?”  and explain who tends to use it. Then, we’ll walk you through three possible reasons you might want to choose it for your site. Let’s dive right in!

What Is a TLD?

A TLD – or Top-Level Domain – is the ending of a website address. TLD variations include .com, .net, .org, and more.

As a part of your online address, the TLD plays a role in your Domain Name System (DNS). That’s because it links your domain name to the web servers.

For reference, we use a .com TLD here at Kinsta:

An example of Kinsta's top-level domain.
Kinsta.com is a TLD

However, TLD isn’t a monolith concept. In fact, there are three types that you might need to know about.

First up is a Generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD). This is basically an extension of the brand and may tell a little bit about the website owner. For example, .biz is a well-known gTLD.

The next type is a Country Code Top-Level Domain (ccTLD). ccTLDs are reserved for individual countries. Australia’s, for reference, is .au.

Finally, you have Sponsored Top-Level Domains (sTLDs). Extensions like these are usually reserved for specific organizations. That restriction means you’ll have a hard time using a .gov domain if you’re not involved with the government.

Each of these endings relates to a specific kind of user. As such, choosing an extension that fits your website’s goals can be an essential part of establishing your online presence.

You've probably seen .io before... but what does it mean and how is it different from .com? 🤔 All the answers and more right here ⬇️Click to Tweet

What Does .io Stand For?

So, what is the .io domain? You might be surprised to hear that it’s actually a ccTLD. This extension technically belongs to the British Indian Ocean Territory and has since the late ’90s.

However, most .io sites these days don’t come from that location. There are no limits on who can use this TLD. As such, people have gotten creative with their domain names using this extension.

This is particularly true for the tech-savvy community. That’s because people in this industry often use the term input/output – or more simply, i/o. Therefore, the .io ending has attracted their attention.

Who Uses .io?

One thing is for sure: there are far more people using .io than simply the British Indian Ocean Territory residents. As we’ve covered, the input/output association with .io has also attracted a lot of technical professionals.

Some examples of groups using this extension include:

  • Digital startups selling products for the tech industry
  • A browser or console-based video game
  • Emerging internet trends such as cryptocurrency

For instance, a prominent Ethereum blockchain explorer uses the domain name etherscan.io:

Etherscan.io
Etherscan.io

As more .io sites in the technology industry pop up, it’s not unreasonable to predict that others will follow. A simple TLD can signal to others that you’re a tech-based site. It could even become as popular as .org one day.

Given that .io is supposed to be a ccTLD, this popularity might not make sense at first. However, Google domain teams understand the different uses for this domain extension. As a consequence, they don’t apply the same geographic targeting rules to .io that they do to other ccTLDs.

That means that your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) doesn’t have to suffer. You’ll be able to reach people worldwide – not just those in the British Indian Ocean Territory.

Should You Use .io? (3 Possible Reasons)

Now that we’ve addressed what .io is, let’s take a look at why you might want to use it for your next website.

1. You Want a Unique Domain Name

You probably don’t need us to tell you how important a brand’s image is to its success. Polishing your branding doesn’t end at your homepage, either. Choosing the right domain name can be a subtle yet professional way to establish yourself in your field.

However, your creativity isn’t limited to just a .io ending. You might also find that it offers more choices for the rest of your domain name. That’s because, since .io is a relatively new extension, there are simply more unclaimed domains available.

For example, let’s say you wanted to purchase newtechnow.com. Unfortunately, someone else already owns it. The URL newtechnow.io, by contrast, is still available. This option can help you stick to your main branding – the only thing you’ll need to change is the extension:

An example of a .io domain that's still available.
A .io domain that is still available

Additionally, you could also include the .io in your branding. The breakfast brand Cheerios, for instance, currently uses cheerios.com for its site. However, if the company wanted to get creative, it could switch to cheer.io for a more modern-looking URL.

2. You Have Limited Time or Finances

Let’s face it: running a website isn’t always easy on your schedule or wallet. These can be important considerations for the cost of a domain name.

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You might have to pay quite a bit if your chosen domain is a popular term. On the other hand, you might need to invest significant time to rebrand or brainstorm a more affordable URL. Using .io can alleviate some of this pressure.

That’s because .io is still relatively new. As a result, there are more options available. They’re often on the market for more attractive rates, too.

For example, we searched for randomstartup.com. You’d have to pay nearly $2,800 to obtain it:

An example of an expensive, non-.io domain name.
An expensive, non .io domain name

This might not be in your price range. However, changing that .com to .io slashes the cost down to $59.99:

An example of a .io domain name that's much cheaper than it's .com counterpart.
A .io domain anme can be much cheaper

Furthermore, if you’re worried about how much time you’ll spend managing your domain after the purchase, Kinsta can help. Our managed hosting can support .io just as well as .com.

All you have to do is register your domain and point it toward Kinsta as you normally would. If you’re considering a switch from a .com to a .io address, don’t worry! We make changing your domain name easy, too.

3. You’re in the Tech Industry

We’ve already covered why some members of the tech community appreciate the .io ending. However, this TLD can be more than a way to signal your brand’s category. It can also show that you’re following trends in the industry.

Using .io might also show that you pay attention to the details. That’s because you’ll be demonstrating that you look beyond the main elements of your site – you’re also carefully considering options in the domain registrar, too.

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Summary

What is .io? If you just want to know the definition of this term, the question isn’t too tricky.

However, understanding why .io is such a popular choice is likely a far more valuable topic. With this insight, you’ll be able to decide if this extension is right for you.

In this article, we covered the basics of .io and covered three reasons you might want to use it:

  1. It can help you obtain a more unique, high-quality URL.
  2. It can be a cheaper and easier alternative to hunting for .com addresses.
  3. You can use it to signal to visitors that you’re a tech-based company.

Choosing your domain is just the first step toward running a website. You’ll also need a powerful hosting provider in your corner. Consider checking out our Kinsta hosting plans today!


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