What Are TLDs?
TLD is an acronym for top-level domain. A top-level domain is the last part of a web address that usually appears after your domain name. For example: in www.semrush.com, “.com.”
You’ve likely run into different types of TLDs when surfing the internet. In fact, there are over 1000 TLDs to choose from in 2021, according to the IANA registry. These include .com, .co.uk, .gov, .ca, .io, and more.
For an in-depth guide to TLDs, check out “What is a Top Level Domain?”
Types of TLDs
Of the 1000s of options available, there are actually three different types of TLDs:
- gTLD: these are generic top-level domains, which include the generic .com, .net, .gov, .org, and more.
- sTLD: sponsored top-level domains include .museum, .travel, .sch, among others.
- ccTLD: is short for country code top-level domains and based on the country of origin. .ca, .uk, .ae, and .fr are all ccTLDs.
Most Common TLDs Examples
There are seven TLDs that are most commonly used for websites these days. Mainly because they are the top-level domains that were formed in the early days of the internet. They are:
government (U.S. national and state government agencies)
military (U.S. military)
For a complete list of TLDs available, visit the IANA. TLDs are managed by ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers).
How to Choose Your TLD?
When selecting a TLD, remember that sites with similar domains but different TLDs are separate websites. For example, the website amazon.com will feature different content than amazon.co.uk, and effectively operate as separate websites.
If you choose to use the web address “yourdomain.com,” your website won’t be accessible on yourdomain.ca or yourdomain.org.
Does Your TLD Affect SEO?
The good news is that the TLD you choose shouldn’t affect how well you rank in Google. According to Google, TLD does not affect your SEO.
However, choosing one TLD and changing it later could affect your SEO efforts.
Can You Change Your TLD?
Yes, you can change your TLD. However, you should carefully consider why you are changing your TLD, as it could impact how search engines find and later rank your website.
If changing your TLD is necessary for your company, you will need to set up a 301 redirect from your old TLD to your new one. This way, users and search engines that your site has moved.
Understanding Referring TLDs
The TLDs of other websites are also an important issue to consider, especially when those websites refer to or link back to yours.
Understanding what types of TLDs point to your site can help improve your backlink strategy. You’ll need to track the quality of sites referring to your site at a glance. A “.gov” site is likely to carry more authority than a “.com” or “.ru,” which are 26% and 20% more likely to be spam.
Finding Your Website’s TLD Distribution
TLD distribution refers to the types of TLDs found in your backlinks. You review TLD distribution to identify the common types of TLDs used by websites that point to yours.
You can use the Backlinks Analytics tool to review current backlinks available for your website. The tool recognizes and displays all TLDs, so you can accurately identify every site that links to yours.
To start, open the Backlinks Analytics tool and enter your target domain into the input field. Select “Analyze.”
The tool returns an overview report, complete with the number of referring domains and backlinks:
Scroll down the overview report to find the ‘TLD Distribution’ report. Select “View full report” to see the TLD list in more detail:
The tool shows you how many domains and backlinks your site earns from each TLD type it can find.
Reviewing the TLDs of websites backlinking to yours is a small but important step in tuning your backlink strategy. If you earn backlinks from websites with concerning or unusual TLDs, it might be time for a larger backlink audit.
For more insight into backlinks strategy and referring domains, check out our guide to backlink referring domains.