On the internet, domains are a way to simplify and memorize addresses to websites that would otherwise be difficult for humans to remember and access, since websites are hosted on servers who are located and communicated via IP-addresses. Could you imagine your friend recommending a specific cooking website and then handing you a slip of paper with 192.168.01.8 written on it? Domains are here to help make these addresses more personal and easy to remember for us humans, but what you maybe didn’t know is that there are different types of domains. One of those types are ccTLDs which stand for country code top-level domains.
A domain consists of two different parts - a second level domain (SLD) and a top-level domain (TDL). The SLD is usually the first part of a domain, for example “google” while the TLD (also often referred to as the domain extension) is the second part of the domain (eg. “.com”, “.org” or “.net”). While users have full creative freedom when defining their SLD (as long as it’s available), TLDs are constrained as they need to exist in the TLD registry that is managed by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (AINA).
A subset of TLDs are ccTLDs or country code top-level domains that are exclusive to certain countries or geographical locations. These TLDs are oftentimes managed by organizations or authorities in the respective locations and can have certain requirements such as having citizenship in a country in order to register its ccTLD (which for example is the case for Japan’s .jp TLD, which requires you to have a physical address in Japan).
While some of the most popular non-country-code TLDs like .com are often a better and safer way, there are certainly cases where it makes more sense to use a ccTLD domain.
The most obvious use case for ccTLDs is making websites targeted at a specific nationality or geographical location. This may make your website more trustworthy and relevant for that target group and can also have benefits on search engines. Many people will however expect your website to be in a certain language when they visit a website with their language code which is a reason that many websites have multiple domains if they offer different languages (eg. .com for english-speakers and .it for italians).
There is a small amount of ccTLDs names that are not used to target a specific nationality or geographical location. This is because some ccLTDs are used by certain communities where the domain extension has a meaning within that community. These ccLTDs are commonly known as domain hacks.
Take for example the ccLTD for The British Indian Territory, .io, which is instead often used for websites related to technology and web-focused applications as “IO” is an acronym used in the tech-community for “input output”. This is the same case for ccLTDs such as .ai (artificial intelligence), .to (torrent websites) and .tv (video and streaming sites such as twitch.tv).
This makes using a ccTLD viable even if you’re not making a site for a particular nationality or location but instead within a specific website genre.
Some ccLTDs are very known even outside the area that they are targeted at. These are extensions such as:
Some other popular ccLTDs that are usually used for certain communities are:
Some lesser known but creative ways of using extensions are:
These ccLTD examples are a few that exist. If you wish to see a full list of all ccTLDs, you can find one on ICANNWiki here. If you are interested in a full top-level domain list including both ccTLDs and gTLDs, you can find a list here.
The LTD of a website can help indicate some essential information about a website’s content before people even land on the site. This helps make it easier for people to know that your website is the site that they are looking for, either because it is in a certain language or because it is targeted at a certain profession, hobby or community (like .io or .tv).
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Domains using the .ai extension are often used for websites about artificial intelligence despite being a ccLTD meant for Anguilla, a small island east of Puerto Rico.
Though it originally is a geography-specific LTD for Guernsey, many websites choose to use the .gg extensions because of its relation to the acronym "GG" meaning "good game". The .gg extension does not have any specific requirement for registering a .gg domain and can be bought with popular domain registrars such as Namecheap or Porkbun.
The .io domain is the ccLTD specific to the British Indian Ocean Territory though often used for technology websites since IO is also an acronym for input/output.