We’ve said it before: it is no longer feasible to compete solely on price, especially not in the eCommerce industry. The reality is that there are almost always multiple sellers for the same products and competing on price is only going to hurt profits.
No, the right way forward is personalization and product differentiation. And one of the ways companies can do this is by changing their website url and a recent trend in the eCommerce industry has been to adopt eCommerce specific TLDs for websites that look something like this: handmade-bags.store
In this article, we’ll explore what eCommerce TLDs you can use and if doing this is actually a good idea. We’ll also compare these TLDs with the most popular TLD of all time – .com
What are Top-level Domains (TLDs)
TLD, short for top-level domain, refers to the end part or suffix of your domain name – they’re also called domain extensions. The technical purpose of TLDs is to make it easier for people to remember websites. Every website has a numerical address that was “replaced” with the domain name system.
|second-level domain||top-level domain|
The two main parts of the domain name system, both invented to make remembering websites easier.
That said, there is another, more creative use of TLDs – personalization. For instance, businesses have begun using TLDs to denote part of their registered business name, like – driftaway.coffee or software.guru.
Another purpose TLDs have is to differentiate website categories. For instance, .io is a country-specific TLD for British Indian Ocean Territory. Yet you keep seeing it for tech-related websites. That’s because it’s the software lingo for “input/output) and speaks directly to that tech-inclined audience. Popular examples of ccTLDs being used as generic TLDs include:
- .tv – usually refers to anything related to film, tv, and entertainment
- .me – usually used by companies offering personal services
- .fm – usually refers to FM radio and used by radio station companies
In a similar fashion, you can use .store and .shop to target people who are specifically looking to purchase something.
TLDs are also handy tools for differentiating your brand/product from other similarly named, but unrelated products. It also helps in ensuring people do not mistake your brand for something else.
Types of TLDs
Both .store and .shop come under the category of Generic Top-Level Domains or gTLDs but there’s an entire world of TLDs outside these two. So let’s take a quick look at the types of TLDs before we make a decision.
Generic Top-Level Domains
These include the most common type of TLDs on the web such as:
And also the rarest and strangest TLDs on the web, such as:
- and 1,200 other gTLDs
The organization that overlooks TLDs globally, ICANN also launched brand TLDs where companies could register their company name as a TLD, iphone.apple, for instance. But these are expensive and harder to get. They are also relatively new so research on their SEO performance is limited.
Sponsored Top-Level Domains
sTLDs are sponsored usually by an institution and thus you need to be able to present some form of proof of official affiliation to ICANN before being able to use them. Common examples of sTLDs include:
Country Code Top-Level Domains
Finally, we have ccTLDs that represent affiliation to a specific country. In order to register your domain with a ccTLD, you generally need a proof of citizenship but requirements do vary (many ccTLDs don’t have any special requirements at all). Examples of ccTLDs include:
eCommerce Specific TLDs
While there is no eCommerce category of TLDs under ICANN’s specifications like ccTLDs and sTLDs, you’ll still find dozens of TLDs that do a great job when it comes to marketing your website as an eCommerce website.
Making eCommerce TLDs even better is the fact that almost all of these TLDs are going to be generic TLDs which means you won’t have to meet any special requirements during registration. Speaking of which, most eCommerce-specific TLDs are fairly affordable. In fact, if you cannot find a .com domain name for your eCommerce website, you should try one of the TLDs from the table below. Chances are that you’re not only going to find an available domain name, but you’re going to get it for cheaper.
So what do these TLDs look like? You already know about .shop and .store but there are quite a few others, including .buy, .sale, .deals, and .shopping.
Are there any differences between .shop and .store?
No, they are both gTLDs and have virtually zero differences on performance, reliability, or availability. Prices can vary, however. We’ll take a closer look at the impact of TLDs on SEO in the next section. For most cases, the differences between .shop and .store come down to personal preferences.
What about other eCommerce TLDs?
The five we just mentioned were the more popular TLDs – but eCommerce TLDs are actually generic TLDs (of which there are over 1,200), you can easily find a hundred more. That said, most of these TLDs will be geared towards products, such as:
You’re thinking that these TLDs, especially product-based ones, won’t be a great fit for your official eCommerce business website and you’d be right – most of these aren’t great candidates for high-quality eCommerce web stores and that is also why these aren’t very expensive
But at the same time, their dirt-cheap prices and sheer range make them great for other use cases.
Other Ways to Use eCommerce TLDs
eCommerce TLDs don’t always have to represent your website.
Remember, the original purpose of TLDs was to help people remember things and some of these TLDs stand out so much compared to TLDS like .com that they become great for projects where the target audience doesn’t have a lot of time to learn the full website URL.
With this in mind, here are three extremely effective uses of custom eCommerce TLDs:
Out-of-home (OOH) advertising is the second fastest growing advertising channel in 2021 and also has one of the highest ROIs, thanks to low upfront cost requirements.
eCommerce businesses are increasingly leveraging OOH advertising mediums such as transit advertising (like vehicle wraps) and mobile billboards to direct actual customers to their websites – but they’re not using their full website URL. Instead, they are using catchy and very short domain names such as iNeedToSend.flowers or CanIGetA.beer that redirect potential customers to their online stores.
And even with a low cost medium such transit advertising, you can get thousands of impressions in just a few hours which will significantly boost
Digital Marketing Campaigns
Attention spans are even shorter on the web so custom eCommerce are also great for digital marketing campaigns. For instance, if you’re promoting the launch of a new product line, chances are that you can find a gTLD for it and then register an attractive domain name to be put in mediums that cannot contain a clickable link, such as under GIF images, banners, and videos.
Doing so will ensure that potential customers have a better chance of reaching your website.
Redirecting from Other Websites
If you do a lot of guest posting and sponsored posts on other, reputable websites, you can maximize referral traffic by using custom eCommerce domain names that stand out from the usual ads people have learned to subconsciously ignore.
Impact of TLDs on SEO
The impact of TLDs on SEO should be an important consideration because SEO is a crucial source of organic traffic that helps maintain a steady source of sales for online businesses.
So does a custom TLD have an impact on SEO?
The short answer is no, it does not have any significant impact on SEO.
The longer answer is that it can depend. If you are an eCommerce business and considering .Shop or .Store then you do not have to worry about any negative impact on SEO.
That said, as a website development agency, we regularly work online stores that are targeting sales from a local demographic. In such cases, we recommend looking into country-TLDs (cTLDs) because they do have an impact on local SEO. Ideally, you’d want something like “yourbusiness.ca” if you’re focusing only on Canada.
Some businesses will also host multiple websites for different countries/demographics with changes in language and content as this also helps with local SEO.
In addition to this, Google constantly changes its algorithm to combat exploitation for marketers. We had an extensive look at the May 2021 Algorithm Core as well as the December update and noticed the same trend – branded domain names are faring better than generic names. For instance, BigKittyLabs.com is a branded domain name whereas websitedevelopmentagency.com is generic. The reason is that marketers have been exploiting keywords in the domain names for some time now and Google is finally cracking down on this.
So in essence, as an eCommerce, you’re completely safe to use custom TLDs like .store and .shop but we do not recommend using them to create generic, keyword-based domain names.
Should You Just Use .Com Instead?
While custom TLDs do not have any impact on SEO – they do have a major psychological impact. You have to understand that just a few years ago, the Internet was like the Wild West – a bit dangerous. And we’ve learned to not visit websites that look sketchy or “new”.
And one of the ways we judge websites before opening them is by their domain names. .Shop and .store are relatively new domain names and thus many people find be hesitant. This is a bigger concern if your target audience consists of older demographics.
In general, if you’re confused or concerned about the business viability of custom TLDs, you should probably use .com – it’s the “safest” option and you cannot go wrong with it.
And you can always change the TLD later.