What .COM Means in a URL

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The .COM at the end of some Web addresses (such as lifewire.com) is called a TLD, or top-level domain. The .COM ending remains the world's most common generic top-level domain.

The .COM TLD means commercial, which just intends to convey the type of content that's being published. For example, it's different from other top-level domains that are meant for content much more specific, like .MIL for the U.S. military or .EDU for education institutions.

Using a .COM URL doesn't offer any special significance other than perception. When someone sees a .COM address, they immediately see it as a "serious" website because it's the most common TLD. However, it doesn't have any technical differences over a .ORG, .BIZ, .INFO, or any other generic top-level domain.

Registering a .COM Website

Historically, top-level domains were used to categorize the few hundred websites that were around at the inception of the World Wide Web. Addresses ending in .COM were meant for publishers that were trying to make some kind of profit through their services.

However, nowadays, having a .COM domain name does not mean your website is a licensed business. In fact, the Internet registration authorities have expanded their criteria to allow basically anyone to have a .COM address, whether they have a commercial intent or not.

Buying a .COM Website

Domain registrars reserve domain names; they serve as a middleman broker between buyers and the quasi-governmental agencies that attend to the Internet's complex plumbing.

General registrars let you choose any available TLD when you buy the domain name. 

Some domain-name registrars that let you buy a .COM name include:

Other Top-Level Domains

Several other top-level domain names are also available to the general public, including .ORG and .NET, which are used to denote non-profit organizations and network and computer topics, respectively.

Those TLDs, just like .COM, aren't limited to certain organizations or individuals—they're open for anyone to purchase.

Most of the TLDs mentioned on this page have three letters but there are also two-letter TLDs called country code top-level domains, or ccTLDs. Some examples include .FR for France, .RU for Russia, .US for the United States and .BR for Brazil.

Other TLDs that are like .COM, as well a TLDs that are "sponsored," may have certain restrictions (e.g. .JOBS, .MOBI, .INT) on registration or use. The Root Zone Database page on the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority website serves as a master index of all of these TLDs.

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