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.net vs .com vs .org: What do they mean and what’s the difference?

By Will Stevens - May 30, 2022

Trying to decide between a .net, .com or .org domain name? In this guide we’ll look at the differences between these three domain extensions and the pros and cons of each one. 

What does .net mean? 

.net is short for “network” and originally .net domains were intended for businesses and organisations involved in network technologies, such as internet service providers. 

However, there are no restrictions on the type of websites that can register a .net domain name and often .net is seen as an alternative to .com domains. 

What does .com mean? 

.com is short for “commercial” and originally .com domains were intended for use by commercial websites. 

However, it is now used for general purposes and the fact it’s now the most popular domain extension means it is almost synonymous with the idea of a web address. 

Adam Blakey and Vicci Small of Lil Beatz

Adam and Vicci, founders of Lil Beatz Clothing, registered their .com domain with 123 Reg

What does .org mean? 

.org is short for “organization” and was originally intended for websites belonging to organisations that didn’t fall under the umbrella of another domain extension. (As well as .net, .com and .org, the other original extensions were .edu, .mil and .us, which were short for education, military and United States respectively.) 

The origin of .org means that it’s often used by non-profit organisations, but there are no restrictions on registering a .org domain. 

What are the advantages of a .net domain? 

One of the biggest advantages of a .net domain is recognisability as .net domains are the fourth most popular domain extension in the world. 

Despite this, you’re more likely to get the domain you want on .net vs .com because .com is much, much more popular. (However, just because a domain is available doesn’t mean you have the right to use. Make sure you check you won’t be infringing someone else’s intellectual property before buying any domain name.) 

There are no real drawbacks to using a .net domain name, although availability is likely to be more limited than it is for newer domain extensions. 

What are the advantages of a .com domain? 

With around 160 million .com domain names registered, it’s the most popular domain by far. The biggest advantage of a .com domain name is that it’s considered by many as the “default domain extension”. 

However, this huge popularity is also .com’s biggest drawback – you may struggle to register the domain name you want on a .com extension. 

What are the advantages to using a .org domain name? 

.org domain names also have a high degree of recognisability, and they can help indicate that your website is for a charity or non-profit organisation.  

Although anyone can register a .org domain, you may find that visitors make certain assumptions about the type of website they expect to on a .org extension. This may mean that it’s not the best choice for a business or other for-profit organisation. 

SEO and .net vs .com vs .org 

Search engine optimisation (SEO) isn’t affected by your choice of a .net, .com or .org domain name. You don’t need to think about .net vs .com vs .org in SEO terms. 

All domain extensions are SEO neutral, meaning they won’t help (or hurt) your efforts to rank well in search engines. 

.com vs .net vs .org which domain name extension should I use? 

Choosing a .com domain name is a great option for any kind of website. However, you may struggle to get the domain you want as the .com extension is so popular. 

.net is a great all-round domain extension and is suitable for almost any kind of website. It’s an extension you should strongly consider when choosing a domain name. 

Although .org domains can be used for any type of website, they do tend to be associated with non-profits and charities and you should bear this in mind when buying your domain. 

.com, .net, .org and brand name protection 

When you’re creating a website, you’ll want to register one main domain name. However, you may also want to register your chosen domain on other extensions to help with brand protection. 

By registering your domain on .com, .net, .org (and other extensions, like .biz) you’ll stop other people from being able to register it. 

This means you can avoid someone creating a different site (or worse, a malicious duplicate of your site) with the same domain name on a different extension.  

You don’t have to do this, but it’s something to bear in mind when choosing which domain extension to use. 

Summing up 

Overall, there’s not much in it when it comes to .net vs .com vs .org. Both .com and .net are suitable for any kind of website, and although .org is strongly linked to non-profits there’s nothing to stop it being used by other types of organisation. 

Neither is their any SEO benefit to choosing a .com, .net or .org extension (and that goes for all other extensions.) 

If you pick a domain name you like, including the extension, then you can’t go wrong. 

Check out this guide for more advice on choosing a domain name or you can search for a domain name here. 

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