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What is a Top Level Domain (TLD)?

KB267 Last reviewed 13 May 2016
This article explains what a Top Level Domain or TLD is.

Introduction

This article explains what a Top Level Domain or TLD is.

What is a TLD?

Technically speaking, a top level domain, or TLD, is the last segment of any domain name.

If you look at the domain www.example.com you can see the address is split into 3 parts or segments each seperated by a full stop. The TLD part of the domain name is the letters following the last full stop, in this case com

What is the purpose of a TLD?

The TLD component of a domain identifies one or more items about the website and/or services associated with it:

  • The geographical location of the domain's owner and/or the area it is targeting
  • The purpose of the website and/or services
  • The type of organisation that owns the domain.

Each TLD is provided by a Registry managed by an organisation designated by the ultimate authority for domain names, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

TLDs may be further categorised into Country-Code-Top-Level-Domains (ccTLD) and Generic-Top-Level-Domains (gTLDs)

Country Code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs)

  • A ccTLD is used to identify a particular country and is two letters long. - the ccTLD for the United Kingdom is .uk
  • Although ccTLDs are country-specific, there is also one for use within the European Union of .eu

Generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs)

These are the most common and recognisable TLDs. When initial devised, an individual TLDs was intended for use by a particular group or organisation. However, as most gTLDs are open for registration by anyone, this seperation as long faded away.

  • .com - commercial organisations
  • .edu - Educational Establishments
  • .net - Network and infrastructure
  • .org - Non-Profit and Charities

There is a small sub-group of gTLDs whose usage is more strictly controls - .mil and .gov for example.

The list of gTLDs was further expanded to include .biz, .info, .mobi, .name and .tv

New Generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs)

As the Web grew, the number of available web addresses for gTLDs shrunk and so 1,300 new gTLDS have been released. These new gTLDs enable website owners to easily find a domain that suits their purpose while describing what they do.

New gTLDs include .ondon, .tech, .florist

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