What is the difference between .com, .net and .org?

Without realizing it, these subtle website indicators have become ingrained into our vocabulary, especially as web traffic has increased over the last decade. It is common to hear websites described by their end tags, but what do they mean? Why does one site use .COM, another use .NET, and another use .ORG? Does it matter which one your site uses?

These indicators are called domain name extensions, and they are used to identify what kind of website is using them. Though these three are the most common, there are also many other domain name extensions, such as ones used for different countries. There are .US, .UK, and even .IO domains (for the British Indian Ocean), which is explained in this article from 101domain. Domain name extensions are also known as top-level domains (TLD), and they’re just the part of the domain that comes after the dot. These three extensions fall into the generic TLD, or gTLD, category. 

.COM extensions: 

A .COM extension is most commonly used at the end of for-profit sites. The extension is short for “commercial,” and is used in websites that generate profit by selling goods or services. However, most websites, including non-commercial ones, use .COM because the extension is widely used and trusted by consumers. It tends to capture visitors due to its popularity and credibility.  It is the most general of the extensions, so it is an acceptable option for almost all websites. Companies will often use .COM because it is the most commonly used extension, so it is easy to remember. It makes it simpler for users to find websites, so owners do not have to worry about decreased traffic. The basic assumption is that almost all websites end with .COM, which makes it easier for customers to correctly guess your domain if they don’t know it or forget it. This extension also has high SEO rankings, since it is the most widely used gTLD. There are many advantages to using a .COM extension, but a possible drawback to consider is it’s ubiquity. Since so many sites end in .COM, there is an increased chance your name and extension will be taken. In that case, you should consider using .NET or .ORG, or changing your site name to another available option. 

.NET extensions

A .NET extension is much less common than a .COM extension, with only about 3.5% of registered domains ending in .NET. Many companies use .NET because the domain name ending in .COM is taken, so a different extension helps them get their desired site name, if not their desired gTLD. A .NET extension is short for “network,” and is usually associated with “umbrella” sites. Many domains ending in .NET will host a wide range of smaller websites in addition to their main site. These are typically used for internet providers, emailing services, and internet infrastructure. It is mostly used in the advertising sector and network operators, and is largely seen as a substitute for .COM. A .NET extension is a viable alternative in many cases, but it does not have comparable SEO rankings to .COM or .ORG. Additionally, site traffic may decrease, since many web users assume the correct gTLD for your site is .COM. This leads to loss of business. 

.ORG extensions

This extension is primarily used for charity or non-profit sites, but some for-profit sites use it as well, since .ORG is simply short for “organization.” There are many types of businesses associated with the word “organization,” which is why this is a good choice for both categories of business. These types of extensions are often used to increase social credibility, since they are associated with charity and non-profit work. Users of this extension are trying to increase traffic, but without commercial implications.This extension is also considered to be more professional, and is often used by schools, religious organizations, sports teams, and community organizations. The main difference between a .ORG and a .NET extension is that the user is not trying to sell or increase traffic for market purposes, but for the spread of information. This extension also has high SEO rankings, but it does not match a .COM, especially since most internet users associate .COM with domain names. When building a .ORG site, it is crucial to brand .ORG with your site name, otherwise most users will assume it ends in .COM.