What is .com? The most popular top-level domain in the world
Although we encounter domains every day, we usually don’t give much thought to their endings, also called top-level domains (TLDs). The most commonly encountered generic TLD is .com, an abbreviation for “commercial”. Businesses tend to use a .com domain because it’s easy to understand, well-known globally, and appears serious and professional.
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What does .com stand for?
Everyone is familiar with .com, but many Internet users don't know what the domain stands for. The RFC 920 document published in October 1984, defined .com as “commercial.” However, Internet pioneer Jack Haverty has speculated that .com may have originally stood for “company.” In the early days of the Internet, the 1980s and '90s, it “was not chartered to interconnect businesses,” explains Haverty, who at the time worked for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). After 35 years, “commercial” has prevailed.
The success story of .com
The extension .com is a generic top-level domain (gTLD), operated by US company Verisign from Virginia. As with other TLDs, its allocation is overseen by ICANN. The .com domain was introduced January 1, 1985. In March of the same year, the three letters were awarded as a domain extension to US company Symbolics for the first time. About a year later, computer companies IBM and Sun followed suit. By way of comparison, the country-specific .co.uk domain was registered as a UK top-level domain in July 1986.
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What are the advantages of a .com domain?
Some 154.6 million domains have been registered as of March 2021, but the .com extension remains by far the most used top-level domain worldwide. Because it is in such high demand, it’s not just companies that secure the TLD. Small and medium-sized enterprises, startups, and the self-employed also opt for a .com domain.
Many people associate the abbreviation with certain values such as professionalism and seriousness. This is one of the reasons why the .com domain is more popular than other popular domain extensions. In the US, addresses with .com are registered significantly more often than those with the country-specific .us TLD.
The .com abbreviation is internationally known and anyone – whether an individual or a legal entity – can register the domain extension, regardless of their place of residence. Domain names with umlauts and similar special characters are also supported. Furthermore, Japanese, Korean, and Hebrew .com domains can be registered in addition to Latin letter domains.
Compared to alternative TLDs, registration costs for a .com domain are usually low.
What are the disadvantages of a .com domain?
A .com domain is not always the best choice. Besides some advantages, the generic top-level domain lacks a specific country assignment, such as .co.uk for the UK or .es for Spain. Country-specific domains (ccTLDs) tend to be seen as more trustworthy (in their respective countries) compared to generic TLDs.
Due to the popularity and its early release short domain names with .com are now already taken. The advantage of short domain names is that they tend to be easier to remember. Recently, generic domain extensions, so-called nTLDs have been added and offer a significantly larger selection of available short domain names. Companies and brands are well-advised to secure a .com domain in addition to an nTLD domain. You can get more tips for domain registration in our dedicated article.
How much does a .com cost?
When it comes to pricing of domains, you have to distinguish between domains that are available and those that are already taken.
- Available .com domains are often available for as little as $1 per month.
- Assigned .com domains may be affordable, but can be extremely expensive. Short addresses like cars.com or insurance.com are worth several millions of dollars. However, if you are desperate to acquire a particular .com address, there are ways to get the domain you want.
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How to register a .com domain?
You can register a .com domain with almost all domain providers. The provider will take care of its registration for a fee. The registration process usually works as follows:
- Enter your desired domain name ending with .com in a search field (domain check). The system automatically checks whether the desired combination is still available. If it is available, you can purchase the domain right away.
- The provider oversees the registration and activation of the domain, which usually takes 24 hours up to a maximum of 72 hours.
- Registration is usually for one year and renews automatically until you cancel the domain.
Learn more about how to buy a domain in our article.