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I'm interested in purchasing a domain name for a new service I intend to market. I know that .com is instantly recognizable as a domain ending, and if I see stackoverflow.com I know it's a web address. However, I also recognize strings like github.io and mysite.tk as domains, since I've worked with domains like these.

To the average member of the public, if one sees an address ending in .io or similar, non-mainstream TLD (e.g. on a billboard or business card) would they immediately know it's a URL and to type it into a browser? Or are these new domains only useful 1) for a technical audience or 2) when you will be primarily promoting your site through links and not print?

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2 Answers 2

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Country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) like .io and .tk are commonly considered as generic top-level domains (gTLDs), and treated as such by search engines like Google (as listed here). Even so however, they're recognized quite differently:

.tk domains are offered free of charge, and consequently have historically been abused by spam and phishing operators. There are also other significant limitations with using them as covered here. Therefore, even though they're widely recognized, they still might not be suited for large-scale, commercial sites.

.io domains on the other hand are very popular among startups as discussed here, and are well-known within the IT community, so would be well-suited for that audience. For non-technical, laypersons, they might still seem a bit odd and less recognizable however, so might work better in electronic versus print media for that audience.

.me is also a ccTLD, however historically .me domains have been one of the fastest growing registered domains as covered here, so they'd be more widely recognized by everyone, and would work equally well for print and electronic media.

It might help to look at what other sites that are targeted at an audience similar to yours are using, and ranking with, to gauge if a new gTLD might compete and work well.

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If you are looking to buy a new TLD then I do suggest the .io over the .coms and even the .tk, even though search engines can identify your domain type and or location based on your Server IP, it is still better to go with a TLD.

if you are buying an older one, then you want the standard metrics like Moz rank, citation flow, trust flow, backlinks and even if you can find Unique IPs for those backlinks so you can make sure you are not buying a spammed site.

As for business cards, etc if you have http:// then people know what to do, as we are so well trained now.

I hope this helps.

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