What is a Top Level Domain?

Last Updated: Oct 27, 2022 | Category: | Author: Ryan Reiffenberger

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Ryan is our Lead Web Architect here at Falls Technology Group. Starting in 1999, Ryan has been working on building websites, computers, and servers for over 20 years.

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In the web hosting world there is a lot of jargon. Sometimes this can make things complicated, so we thought we’d break down a commonly used term in the website hosting world.

Domain TLDs are Domain Suffixes that serve as the root for all websites. An example of a Domain TLD would be ‘.com’, ‘.org’, ‘.net’, etc.

According to Wikipedia:

“A top-level domain (TLD) is one of the domains at the highest level in the hierarchical Domain Name System of the Internet after the root domain.”

TLDs are typically owned by large companies such as Verisign that act as the operator and manager of all traffic that flows to the domain names that we use on a daily basis.

What are the different types of TLDs?

According to CloudFlare:

  • Generic TLDs: Generic TLDs (gTLDs) encompass some of the more common domain names seen on the web, such as ‘.com’, ‘.net’, and ‘.org’. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) used to heavily restrict the creation of new gTLDs, but in 2010 these restrictions were relaxed. Now there are hundreds of lesser-known gTLDs, such as ‘.top’, ‘.xyz’, and ‘.loan’.
  • Country-code TLDs: Country-code TLDs (ccTLDs) are reserved for use by countries, sovereign states, and territories. Some examples are ‘.uk’, ‘.au’ (Australia), and ‘.jp’ (Japan). The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), which is run by ICANN, is in charge of picking appropriate organizations in each location to manage ccTLDs.
  • Sponsored TLDs: These TLDs typically represent professional, ethnic, or geographical communities. Each sponsored TLD (sTLD) has a delegated sponsor that represents that community. For example, ‘.app’ is a TLD intended for the developer community, and it is sponsored by Google. Similarly, ‘.gov’ is intended for use by the U.S. government, and is sponsored by the General Services Administration.
  • Infrastructural TLDs: This category only contains a single TLD: ‘.arpa’. Named for DARPA, the U.S. military research organization that helped pioneer the modern Internet, ‘.arpa’ was the first TLD ever created and is now reserved for infrastructural duties, such as facilitating reverse DNS lookups.
  • Reserved TLDs: Some TLDs are on a reserved list, which means they are permanently unavailable for use. For example, ‘.localhost’ is reserved for local computer environments, and ‘.example’ is reserved for use in example demonstrations.

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