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The massive dominance of .com (charts)

Dot Com domain namesThe .com top-level domain has dominated the Internet pretty much from the start, and that’s still the case. But how strong is this dominance? After all, there are now approximately 200 million registered domain names, and less than half of those are .coms.

To find out what the current situation looks like for actual, popular websites, we’ve looked at this from two different perspectives:

  • The top 10,000 websites in the world.
  • The top 10,000 websites in the United States.

This article will show you the distribution of top-level domains (TLDs) among these top websites to show you how widely used .com is today, and how the other top-level domains are doing by comparison.

The .com TLD in the world vs. the US

We get two very different pictures depending on which set of websites we look at, although the pattern is similar.

But before we proceed, let’s get two definitions out of the way for those of you not fluent in domain speak:

  • ccTLD: country code top-level domain, for example .de, .uk, .cn, etc. There are 240+ of these.
  • gTLD: generic top-level domain, for example .com, .net, .org, etc.

Now that that has been cleared up, let’s get to the charts.

TLD distribution among top websites worldwide

So what does the TLD distribution look like for the top 10k websites in the world? Here it is, as a pie chart for your viewing pleasure. (Pacman, anyone?)

Chart of TLD usage by top 10k worldwide sites

In the chart above, we only included TLDs with 1% or more of the worldwide top 10k. The rest were lumped together in the “other” category.

As you can see .com has a very dominant position, which was to be expected. Since ccTLDs tend to be country-specific, it will be hard for them to reach the very top worldwide.

A few points of interest for the worldwide top 10k sites:

  • Not only does .com dominate with 61.8%, but the nearest TLD is .net with just 5.8%. That’s quite a difference.
  • All gTLDs counted together make up 71.8%.
  • The ccTLDs that do show up are a reflection of the large number of Internet users in those countries, such as Germany (.de), Russia (.ru), Japan (.jp), China (.cn), etc. One might also assume that these are nations with a high number of strong nation-specific website properties.

So what does the situation look like if we only study websites that are popular in the United States?

TLD distribution among top websites in the United States

We had a feeling that the difference between the worldwide and the US-only perspectives would be big, and we were right. If the worldwide chart showed .com as a Pacman ready to bite, in this one Pacman is gulping down the other TLDs like an afternoon snack.

TLD usage among the top 10k sites in the US

Again, we only included TLDs that had 1% or more of the top 10k websites. The rest were put in the “other” category.

A few points of interest:

  • Although the US does have its own ccTLD, .us, only 89 of the US top 10k sites are on .us domains. That’s less than 1%.
  • The .com domain has 83.3% (versus 61.8% worldwide).
  • All gTLDs counted together make up 95.7% (versus 71.8% worldwide).

What does this tell us?

What it tells us is that whichever way you slice it, .com is still king.

Perhaps we are all, and Americans in particular, by now so schooled to seeing and using .com domains for top websites that other TLDs may be seen with some ingrained level of suspicion.

Maybe something to keep in mind when you’re registering a domain for your next startup, at least if you’re aiming for an international audience.

Data sources:
Top 10k sites worldwide from Alexa.
Top 10k sites in the US from Quantcast.

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