What is a TLD? Top Level Domains and its Types Explained
If you’re a newbie in the domain industry, ‘TLD’ is one new jargon you must have come across. Confused, are you? Let us help you decode the mystery of TLD and the different types of TLDs!
Domain Name Decoded
First things first, let us begin by understanding what a domain name is. A domain name is your online identity and can be said to be the digital address of your website. Anyone wanting to visit your website needs to type in your domain name in the search bar of the web browser.
An example of what a domain name looks like is – www.bigrock.in. If you notice, the domain name consists of three sections, each separated by a ‘dot’.
When we break down a domain name, we begin reading from right to left –
in – domain extension, otherwise, known as a TLD aka Top-Level Domain
bigrock – the name of the website, otherwise, known as an SLD aka Second-Level Domain
www – world wide web, most commonly found before a domain name but can be skipped
Another example of a domain name you may have come across is – blog.websitename.com
In this domain name, the only difference we notice is that ‘www’ is replaced by ‘blog’. Here,
blog – third-level domain, also known as a subdomain
When you want to start your website or blog, you do so by first choosing and registering a domain name. When you register a domain name, you choose not only the name but also the domain extension (www.mywebsitename.com).
Note: If you want a subdomain, first you need to register a domain name and purchase hosting. Next, from your hosting management dashboard, you can create additional subdomains. Example, blog.mywebsitename.com or shop.mywebsitename.com
So, what is a TLD?
A TLD or top-level domain is the last part of your domain name. It is sometimes also known as a domain name suffix as your domain name ends with the TLD.
Having seen what a TLD is, let us now move on to understanding the different types of TLDs in depth.
Types of TLDs
There are officially four types of TLDs recognised by IANA:
- gTLD – Generic Top-Level Domain
- sTLD – Sponsored Top-Level Domain
- ccTLD – Country Code Top-Level Domain
- Infrastructure Top-Level Domain
Let’s explore them in detail:
1. gTLD – Generic Top-level Domain
The gTLD is the most common and recognizable of all TLDs. Some popular gTLDs you may have come across are:
The list of gTLDs is ever-growing. The newly added gTLDs are also known as ‘new gTLDs’.
These days several websites want to be recognised by their domain name hence they choose to suffix a new gTLD (Eg: .host, .name, .biz etc.) instead of the traditional .com to serve their website’s purpose.
Apart from this, there are TLDs specific to certain geographical locations, known as GeoTLDs. Technically, GeoTLDs fall under the category of generic TLDs and the main aim is to serve the purpose of representing a place, culture or language.
Some of the GeoTLDs currently available are:
- .berlin (Berlin, Germany)
- .nyc (New York City, USA)
- .moscow (Moscow, Russian Federation)
- .tokyo (Tokyo, Japan)
As of September 2020, there are in total exactly 1,246 generic TLDs made available by ICANN. To view all the existing gTLDs, check them on the IANA website.
2. sTLD – Sponsored Top-level Domain
sTLD is the type of top-level domain that is sponsored by or taken care of by private organisations, businesses or the government.
To register your website under an sTLD, your domain should abide by certain rules.
Some common sTLDs are:
- .edu – for educational institutions
- .gov – primarily for US government entities and agencies
- .asia – open to individuals, companies and organisations connected to the region
- .mil – primarily US military
Some recent additions to the sTLDs are:
- .travel – reserved for travel agencies
- .tel – reserved for internet communication service websites
- .museum – reserved for museums
As of September 2020, there are in total 14 sTLDs listed on the IANA website.
3. ccTLD – Country Code Top-level Domain
A ccTLD is a top-level domain that is specific to countries. Mostly, ccTLDs consist of two alphabets in the English language. However, some ccTLDs are also available in a country’s regional language.
Here are some examples of ccTLDs available:
- .in – India
- .uk – United Kingdom
- .us – The United States of America
- .va – Vatican city state
- .cn – China
- .ke – Kenya
- .eg – Egypt
- .भारत – India
- .台湾 – Taiwan
- .ایران – Iran
As of September 2020, there are in total 316 ccTLDs listed on the IANA website.
Note: Some ccTLDs are restricted to only the individuals and organizations residing in the area.
Many times, ccTLDs are used by companies to tap into the local markets by localizing their website address.
One example is amazon.com that is localized to suit the needs of different country markets. Some examples of country-specific websites are:
4. Infrastructure Top-level Domain
There is only one domain name in this category –
- .arpa – Address and Routing Parameter Area
With the help of this domain name, you can reach the root of the name hierarchy by reverse mapping IP addresses to the domain names.
This domain is exclusively used for Internet-infrastructure purposes, particularly, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). Furthermore, the domain is administered by IANA under the guidance of IAB (Internet Architecture Board).
As of September 2020, the .arpa domain includes 11 second-level domains, read more about them on the IANA website.
A Quick Recap
By now, we assume you’ve figured out the primary intent of a TLD is to help a user visiting a website figure out what the website is all about, or the purpose it serves.
Although you may have no idea about the technicalities of a domain name, if you see –
- www.websitename.edu you are most likely assume it might be an educational website or,
- en.wikipedia.org and you can tell it is a not-for-profit organization
All this just by looking at the domain suffix.
We hope that this detailed tutorial on TLDs and the types of TLDs helped you understand about domain names in-depth and TLD aka top-level domain is not a jargon anymore!
If you have any queries, feel free to leave them in the comments section below. Also, head to our Domains Blog Category to know more and stay updated.