.com and .org are both well-known examples of domain extensions. But what is .com exactly, and what is .org? And does it matter which one you use? (Spoiler alert: yes.)

When you set up a website for a business or a non-profit organisation, you might think the most important part of the address is the actual name. But the domain extension (the bit that comes after the dot) is just as important for telling people what your site is all about.

We’re going to tell you everything you need to know about .org vs .com and how the  extension you go for can affect user perceptions and your overall success.

What’s the Difference Between .com and .org?

.com and .org have both been around since 1985 when the original group of six generic top-level domain extensions (TLDs) was created. They’re both popular because they’re so recognisable. There are, though, quite a few differences between .org and .com, starting with what they actually mean.

What does .com mean?

.com is short for “commercial.” The extension was originally designed to be used by for-profit businesses or commercial organisations. This is still the main use of .com today.

What does .org mean?

.org stands for “organisation.” It was set up for charities and non-profit organisations, and then adopted by open-source projects and informational platforms.

Register your .org domain

What are domain extensions, anyway?

So, every website has an IP (internet protocol) address that tells servers how to find it. But IP addresses are long strings of numbers that go on and on and one, and nobody wants to remember or type an quadratic equation to visit a website. This is why we use our friends’ domain names (URLs) instead.

In any URL, the brand name (like Google) is called the second-level domain. The last part of the address (like .com) is called the top-level domain or TLD. TLDs are also known as domain name extensions. 

(By the way, the “www.” in web addresses doesn’t really matter these days. Once upon a time, you needed it to get you to the right server. Nowadays, most of the time, you should end up at the right place with or without using it, and not lost in (cyber)space.)

Think of domain extensions like categories that keep the Internet organised, and tell visitors what type of website they’re looking at. As well as .org and .com (generic TLDs), there are geographical extensions like .co.uk and specific ones like .store for ecommerce sites or .edu for educational organisations.

When you create a website and buy the name from a domain registrar or website host, you’ll choose your domain extension as part of the name. And it plays a huge role in how people see your site. 

.com vs .org Compared: Let’s Get Down To The Facts

So, we know what the two domain extensions stand for. To find out more about stuff like availability, price, and authority, we need a direct comparison.

First on the list for .com vs .org is “purpose.” The .com extension can be used for heaps of things, but poor .org is more limited. People normally expect it to be used for a non-profit website. Both extensions are taken seriously and seen as professional when used for their original purpose.

The prices for both of them are similar, at around £10 per year. You may find that .org is slightly cheaper due to the fact that .com is king of the castle (especially if you want a premium domain). That popularity also makes .com addresses much more difficult to come by. You usually have a wider choice of names with .org.

Another difference is searchability, especially for mobile users. Many mobile keyboards now have a specific “.com” key because it’s the most common extension. This makes it super easy for users to access .com websites.

Let’s look at org vs com in the form of pros and cons:

Pros of .com Cons of .com   Pros of .org Cons of .org
Multi-purpose use Can be expensive Can be cheaper Limited scope for use
High authority for commercial entities Limited availability Wide availability Less searchable on mobile
Easy to search for on mobile Seen as generic rather than trendy High authority for non-profits Users may still search for .com version
Most users will try it first anyway     Not as marketable as .com

Are .com Websites Reliable? You’re Kidding, Right?

Ask anyone to name the first domain extension that comes to mind, and they’ll say .com. 

It’s everywhere and so it’s become a byword for anything to do with the Internet. Remember the “dot-com millionaires” of the 90s? (Gen Z, come back here once you’ve Googled them.) Some companies even make .com part of their branding, like confused.com.

Because websites with .com at the end are used by the world’s biggest companies, the extension basically equals ‘established and trusted businesses’. It’s seen as reliable by consumers, which is half the battle. And in most cases, .com does mean that the site and the group it is all about are reliable.

Remember though that any monkey with a banana can register a .com name, so it could be used for the dark side. For example, during the pandemic, UK and US security officials created a database of Covid-related dodgy websites. Some of these had .com extensions, like covid19designermasks.com and covid19-ventilator.com.

So, .com doesn’t always mean you can trust the site. But, it’s all good, there are other ways to check that a website is the real deal. The “https://” prefix shows it has a certified extra layer of security (SSL or secure socket layer) shown by a tiny padlock icon on the left of the address bar, for example.

When to choose a .com domain

There are heaps of reasons why .com domain extensions are a great choice for your brand. Here are some examples of where it makes sense:

  • When you’re running a profit-making business: From corporations and enterprises to startups, ecommerce stores, subscription services, and personal blogs (especially if you plan to make money from them). You can also use it for a general-purpose website.
  • When you want to show reliability: As we mentioned, .com addresses have been around a long time, and people link them to major brands. If you use newer and lesser-known extensions such as .biz, you won’t seem so trustworthy. No one wants to seem dodgy.
  • When you want a memorable domain name: .com names are easy peasy to remember. When people search for your brand, most will automatically type .com. Even if your site has a different extension, like .net or .co, they’ll probably type in .com anyway.
  • When you want to increase web traffic: The fact that you’re seen as trustworthy will bring you more visitors, and search engines will see you as an expert in your field. This will help your site to rank higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
  • When you want a professional email address: Having a .com domain name means you can register a .com email address (OnlyDomains even gives you a free trial, so check us out). This makes your emails look more professional than, say, a free Hotmail address. They’re also less likely to end their days in spam folders or be deleted by readers.
  • When you want to attract mobile users: Your site should be as mobile-friendly as possible. So, helping people to find you via the .com keyboard button is a real bonus. (You could press and hold that button to see other extension options like .org, but who has the time for that?)

Is .org Better Than .com? Depends

Moving on to the next question: is .com or .org better for your domain name? It’s all about what you want to do with it. 

When to choose a .org domain

Here are some reasons for using .org and a few things to bear in mind:

  • The main reason for using .org is that you’re a non-profit or charitable organisation. Or a source of free information (such as wikipedia.org). The extension is often used by open-source software providers. 
  • If you fall into one of those categories, using .org gives your site credibility and authority. People normally expect a non-profit site when they see .org, and they’ll use this extension when they search for non-profit groups.
  • As of December 2023, only 4.5% of all global websites used .org TLDs, compared with 46% using .com. This means there are a lot of .org domain names still up for grabs, so it’s more likely you’ll find what you want.
  • Technically, for-profit businesses can use .org domain extensions. If you sell Fairtrade or sustainable goods, or you’re a company out to do good, you might use .org to show you’re not an evil capitalist. But if your commercial firm uses .org purely because there’s more choice of names, you might be accused of pretending to be something you’re not. You don’t want that.
  • On the other side of the coin, non-profit organisations might use .com to show that they also sell goods (for charity, obvs). Or because .com is more recognised as an extension.
  • .org isn’t as marketable as .com because there isn’t the same level of demand. This can make it cheaper to buy (but unfortunately not a gold mine if you want to sell it on).

Does It Really Matter Whether I Choose .org or .com?

Back in the day, .org was just for non-profit websites, but this rule was changed in 2019. Now, there are no restrictions on using .org or .com extensions. If you really want to use .com for a charity or .org for an enterprise, knock yourself out.

But, it makes more sense to use the extensions for their original purposes. 

Most users know that .com websites aim to sell them something, while .org sites give you information. If you confuse the two, it’s harder for people to find what they want online. That doesn’t do you any favours with search engine algorithms. And let’s face it, they’re hard enough to crack already…

It’s easy to see why new businesses might be tempted to use .org, though. With a shortage of cool names, you’ll either have to pay over the odds for the one you want or come up with a new name for your company. Better to check if the name you want is up for grabs when you’re starting the company.

If the name of your dreams isn’t available with .com or .org, there are other ways to get around it. 

The .net extension (short for “network”) is well-known, though it doesn’t have the godlike status of .com. It’s often associated with service providers like web hosting or databases. Hit that link to read more about .com vs .net domain.

What to Consider When Choosing Between .org and .com

We know com vs org can be a dilemma. So, here’s a bit more food for thought:

1.    Your brand name: Someone will probably have already grabbed the name you want just because .com domains are the ‘blue-eyed boy’. This can even happen with .org if your name is super generic.

If you don’t have the budget to negotiate buying the domain from the owner, you could always tweak your brand name to make it work with the extension you want.

2.   Relevance: Think about your target audience. Are they looking for goods or information?

The age demographic matters, too. Younger people will probably be browsing on mobiles, where .com is easier to type. But then, those young whippersnappers could also think .com is a bit naff compared to trendier extensions like .ai or a quirky domain hack, especially if you’re a tech company.

3.   Future plans: If you’re starting a blog or a forum, you might lean towards .org. But if you want to make money out of the website in the future, this can be tricky once everyone knows you for a different reason.

In the same way, non-profits might see .com as a way of building more awareness but then realise .org would have suited them better in the long term.

4.   Competitors: If you do decide to use .org for a business, make sure there isn’t already a .com website with the same (or very similar) brand name in your industry.

People always default to .com when they run a search, so they’ll probably land on your competitor’s site instead of yours. D’oh.

5.   Price: Both .com and .org are in demand, but .com will probably be a bit more expensive. Shop around to find a domain registrar with reasonable prices for purchase and renewal. Like OnlyDomains.

If the .com name you have your eye on is taken, you could find it listed for sale by a “domain squatter.” We’re not talking a scruffy guy eating cereal from the box while chilling on someone else’s domain. These folks who register domain names that are likely to be popular with the sole aim of reselling them at astronomical fees. Bit like ticket touts on eBay. Grrr.

6.   Alternatives: As we know, .org and .com aren’t the only two types of domains out there. If one extension isn’t up for grabs and you don’t think the other one will be a good fit for your business, you could check out .co, .online, or a location-specific extension.

Buy Your .org or .com Domain at OnlyDomains, and We’ll Take Care of the Rest

Now that you’re clued up on .com and .org, you can decide which you want to use as your top-level domain. 

Head on over to OnlyDomains and pick your extension from the list. Then, just type your brand name in the search bar to find out if it’s available. And if it’s your lucky day, you can register it in a matter of minutes.

Not available? Not the end of the world. Use the WHOIS lookup tool to find out who owns any domain name. Then you can get in touch to see if it’s for sale and the Godfather in you makes them an offer they can’t refuse. Not your style? Just tweak your name or pick a different extension: OnlyDomains has more than 900 global and local domain endings to choose from. Not too shabby.

But it doesn’t end there. Once your name’s sorted, OnlyDomains can also host your website or help you build one. Unlimited Hosting packages come with free email and SSL certificates, while the two website builders make life easy with drag-and-drop editing and ecommerce enablement.

Plus, you can set up a professional business email using your new domain name, complete with a mobile app and high security. So, what are you waiting for?

Whether you need email, website services, domain transfer, or just the domain name itself, OnlyDomains is ready to help at a fair price.

Register your domain name now and get free business email for 30 days.

FAQs About .org vs .com

Can I use .org for a business?

Technically, yes. Some commercial businesses use .org, often because the .com version of their name is already gone or because they want to show their caring side. 

You should think carefully before doing this, though. Visitors may find it confusing (or even offensive) to see a profit-making business using an extension usually all about non-profits and charities.

Should I use .org if .com is taken?

Ok, so you want to punch a hole in the wall when your .com is taken. We get it. But you should only use .org instead if you have a good reason. For example, if your group is more about providing an informational service than selling goods. Play nice.

You could always try to get a .com extension by adding a prefix or suffix to your brand name (bestbobblehats.com or bobblehatsforyou.com instead of bobblehats.com). Or you could pick a geographic extension or an industry-specific ending like .design or .tech. Problem solved.

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