There are a lot of different domain extensions that you can use for your website, but between .com vs .net which one is actually the best? Choosing the best top-level domain extension for your website is an important decision. Also referred to as TLDs, these extensions follow your website name and play a vital part in your overall web address.
There are actually many factors to take into account when deciding on a domain extension. The most important considerations are what type of business you have and how targeted visitors will find your site.
.net as an alternative to a .com
The .com is the most popular extension because it’s the legacy extension of the internet. Most end up getting the .net typically because they could not get the .com. So in general, when anyone is looking to an alternative to a .com they opt for .net or .co.
What are domain extensions?
Domain extensions are the “extension” to a website address. They’re what come after the actual domain name. For example: Yahoo.com or Google.com. Domain extensions can be one of several different types which include Country Code Top-Level Domains (ccTLDs), Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) and Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs).
There is no right way to choose a domain extension based on your business type but there may be some wrong ones depending on how much you want it to stand out from competitors in search results pages as well as where your customers might live when they visit your site.
When choosing between a .com or .net domain extension, there isn’t only one type of website for which those extensions are designed. Unlike other extension which can be country code specific (like .vn for Vietnam) or .gov for United States government agencies.
Differences between .com and .net domain extensions
The .com extension for domain names was created for commercial websites who’s intention is to make money. It is the default choice for any business websites, personal site, blog or online portfolio and is still the most popular domain extension.
By contrast, the the .net domain name extension stands for “network.” It was originally designed for internet networking and email services. Remember, when extensions came out in the 1990’s they were create to help identify the purpose of a website.
In practical day to day use, a .com and .net are now interchangebale with .net being one of the primary alternatives to anyone who can’t get the .com version of their website.
When should you register a .com extension?
A .com is ideal for most websites be it a blog, portfolio or online store. As I stated already, it’s the legacy extension of the internet and is what people will automatically associate your website with. A .com is also better for long term value if you plan to sell your website at some point in the future. In general if you can get the .com version of your domain name, get it.
No one who registers a .com wishes they had some alternative domain extension. In addition, if your website is of a commercial nature then the .com extension was specifically design for the type of website.
When should you register a .net extension?
A .net is best for websites related to networking, such as internet service providers. It’s also appropriate if your company has an “internet” focused service and it makes sense for your brand to have a domain extension that matches this branding.
But most register alternative domain extensions like a .co, .org and .net simply because the .com version of their domain is already being held by a domainer. A domainer is someone who buys domain names with various extensions with the long term goal to sell them at a higher price.
For example, the .io extension is a popular choice for tech companies. The .org extension is a good selection for clubs or organizations, the .net is the legacy alternative to the .com and a .co is a more modern alternative to the .net.
.com vs .net for SEO, which is better?
With regards to rankings, both a .com and a .net are considered top level domain extensions. As such, they are treated the same by search engines. As long as you have good content and a good backlink profile, your website will do just as well with a .com as it does with a .net.
SEO algorithms are complicated and sophisticated. What search engine algorithms do is that they determine how relevant your website is to a given search for users like you. There is no evidence suggesting one domain extension does better over in another when it comes to SEO.
I know this is an unpopular opinion as most bloggers and content creators want to be told a .com is best. But Google and other search engines care about delivering the best results for keyword phrases people search for.
In addition, there are plenty of good examples of .net websites that rank well. For example, BoingBoing.net gets millions of visitors a month. Yes, a .com is always preferred from a branding and resell standpoint, but for strictly SEO purposes both are fine.
A .com is more memorable
While for technical SEO there is no difference between a .com and a .net, I do have to mention that a .com is more memorable. When you say you have a website, people automatically assume the extension is going to be .com.
This is not as important as it once was as people are more accustomed to alternative domain extensions, but if for some reason you’re relying on people to use word of mouth marketing or to type your address in to a web browser, a .com does have an advantage as it is the legacy extension everyone associates with the internet.
How to get the .com you want
I strongly suggest new bloggers try and secure the .com version of their website whenever possible. Sometimes this is not possible but here are some creative tips to help come up with domain names that are available for a .com
- You can add a word before or after your preferred domain name to make it more unique. If you’re in Boston, an obvious option is BrickCoffeeBoston.com.
- Try to give your domain name a short word or phrase that will be easy to remember. Don’t use hyphens or numbers in the domain name. Don’t use phrases that create a double consonant in the domain like “coffee egg.”
- Use domain name generators and think of a few essential, non-negotiable words that must be in the domain name. Also consider changing the tense of a word in order to make it unique like RoastyCoffee.com has done by changing roast to roasty (which not actually a word).
- Last, if all else fails there are numerous domain name generators you can use to get inspiration for domain names.
Brand reputation protection
Choosing between these two top-level internet domains can often be difficult, but sometimes it may be best to get both. A .com and .net are two of the most popular but not exclusive domain extensions. It may be worth registering both so you can protect yourself from competition if it’s possible to secure both.
Pat Flynn of SmartPassiveIncome.com had an issue with someone using SmartPassiveIncome.net and infringing on his copyright. Eventually, he was able to secure the .net version of his domain, but not without dealing with some headaches that could have been avoided.
Copyright infringement for .com and .net
Please be aware of the copyrights of other websites. If you want to register a .com and it’s not available the first step is to make sure the .com domain name you want is not actually in use.
If it’s simply registered and held by a domainer, then you can go ahead and use an alternative extension like a .net. But if you see that the .com version of your website is actually being used, you’re not allowed to simply register an alternative domain extension and build a website.
You’ll be infringing on the original websites copyright and put your website at risk of a DCMA takedown which would require you to move your website to a new domain name.
How to get a .com or a .net
You have two options, you can either get your domain name at a web host or a website builder, or you can get your domain direct from an ICANN certified domain registrar. The advantage of getting a domain at a web host like Bluehost is that you can get the domain free for the first year.
The advantage of going with a domain registrar is that they have lower renewal prices because you always have to pay for your domain every year regardless of where you register it. While you can get it free for the first year from a web host, the renewal rate will be much higher.
I personally use and suggest Namecheap for all your domains. They have some of the lowest prices around, low renewal rates and provide 24/7 support. In addition, it’s easy to switch your domain name between services.
Maybe you start with Squarespace but want to switch to WordPress. Using a domain registrar makes this an easy process to use different content management solutions.
.com vs .net conclusion
To conclude, your domain name extension is important. It helps brand the website and will be your domain address that you will be using for years to come. We hope you now understand the differences between .com and .net when making a domain purchase decision.
David UtkeDavid Utke is a professional blogger, YouTuber and a highly rated user experience consultant. He and his team create helpful tutorials, software reviews, videos and more based on real-world experience. Join over 30,000 monthly readers and 27k+ YouTube subscribers!
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