Of the following domain sites which is likely the most reliable .com .net .gov .org

« previous Page 8 of 10 next »

Evaluating Internet Information

“dot com” “dot gov” — suffixes and country codes explained

Any information that you use to support ideas and arguments in a research paper should be given some scrutiny. Printed materials that are collected in a library go through an evaluative process as librarians select them to include in their collections. There is also an evaluation of Web sites that are included in search directories, such as Yahoo!, at least to the extent of classifying and placing sites into a categorization scheme. However, sites harvested by “spiders” or “robots” for search engines don’t go through any evaluative process.

There are no real restrictions or editorial processes for publishing information on the Web, beyond some basic knowledge of Web page creation and access to a hosting computer. Anyone can publish opinion, satire, a hoax, or plainly false information. To insure that the Web sites you use as information sources are acceptable for research purposes, you should ask questions about those sites. The following are some elements you should look at before deciding to use a Web site as a research resource:

Domain suffix

The term “dot.com” has become a ubiquitous phrase in the English language. The “dot.com” really refers to the domain of a Web site. Sites on the Web are grouped by their URLs according to the type of organization providing the information on the site. For example, any commercial enterprise or corporation that has a Web site will have a domain suffix of .com, which means it is a commercial entity.

The domain suffix provides you with a clue about the purpose or audience of a Web site. The domain suffix might also give you a clue about the geographic origin of a Web site. Many sites from the United Kingdom will have a domain suffix of .uk.

Here follows a list of the most common domain suffixes and the types of organizations that would use them.

.com
Commercial site. The information provided by commercial interests is generally going to shed a positive light on the product it promotes. While this information might not necessarily be false, you might be getting only part of the picture. Remember, there’s a monetary incentive behind every commercial site in providing you with information, whether it is for good public relations or to sell you a product outright.

.edu
Educational institution. Sites using this domain name are schools ranging from kindergarten to higher education. If you take a look at your school’s URL you’ll notice that it ends with the domain .edu. Information from sites within this domain must be examined very carefully. If it is from a department or research center at a educational institution, it can generally be taken as credible. However, students’ personal Web sites are not usually monitored by the school even though they are on the school’s server and use the .edu domain.

.gov
Government. If you come across a site with this domain, then you’re viewing a federal government site. All branches of the United States federal government use this domain. Information such as Census statistics, Congressional hearings, and Supreme Court rulings would be included in sites with this domain. The information is considered to be from a credible source.

.org
Traditionally a non-profit organization. Organizations such as the American Red Cross or PBS (Public Broadcasting System) use this domain suffix. Generally, the information in these types of sites is credible and unbiased, but there are examples of organizations that strongly advocate specific points of view over others, such as the National Right to Life Committee and Planned Parenthood. You probably want to give this domain a closer scrutiny these days. Some commercial interests might be the ultimate sponsors of a site with this suffix.

.mil
Military. This domain suffix is used by the various branches of the Armed Forces of the United States.

.net
Network. You might find any kind of site under this domain suffix. It acts as a catch-all for sites that don’t fit into any of the preceding domain suffixes. Information from these sites should be given careful scrutiny.

Country domain suffixes .au Australia .in India .br Brazil .it Italy .ca Canada .mx Mexico .fr France .tw Taiwan .il Israel .uk United Kingdom

Authority

Does the site you’re evaluating give credit to an author? If no responsible author is listed, is there an indication of any sponsorship? When trying to determine reliability of information given in any medium, you want to have some idea of what the author’s credentials are. Are they experts on the topic they are writing about? What is their educational background? Remember, anyone can publish on the Web. They don’t have to know what they’re talking about.

You also want to check and see if there’s a list of sources given for the information on a site, like a bibliography that you would have to provide for a paper you’re writing.

Currency

Information that is outdated may be incorrect or incomplete. A well maintained Web site will generally tell you at the bottom of the initial screen when it was last updated and maybe even when it was originally created and made available on the Web.

Links

An informational Web site in which all the hyperlinks are broken might not be a very reliable resource. Broken hyperlinks are not uncommon, due to the ever changing nature of the Web, but when there are many broken links on a Web site, it might be an indication that the site isn’t maintained on a regular basis.

URL

The site address can give you clues as to ultimate sponsorship of a site. If you can’t determine who wrote the site or who or what is sponsoring the site, try truncating the URL to its root address. This will tell you where the site is being hosted. For example, this site provides information on nutritional RDAs:

http://www.mikeschoice.com/reports/rda.htm.

If you truncate the URL to its root address http://www.mikeschoice.com, you will discover that this is a site selling a mineral supplement. Given the obvious bias, this is probably not the best source of nutritional information.

Another clue to what type of site you’re looking at is whether there is a ~ (tilde) symbol in the URL. This symbol usually indicates that the site is a personal Web page and the information should be given careful scrutiny.

Comparison

Always compare the information that you find on a Web site with other information sources. Generally, you wouldn’t want to use only Web sites as support for a research paper, so you would be looking at other types of sources such as books, magazine articles, etc. as well. How does the information found in the various formats compare?

« previous Page 8 of 10 next »

How important is it to have a .com domain name?

Is it really that much better than .co, .net, .io or any other popular top-level domain?

We ran an experiment with 1,500 people to find out.

Here are our findings.

Key finding: which domain extension is best in 2022?

  • .com domains are over 33% more memorable than URLs with other top-level domains.
  • .com is the #1 most trusted TLD, with .co in a close second place.
  • When people try to remember a URL, they’re 3.8 times more likely to assume it ends in .com than anything else.

In short, our study shows that .com outperforms all other domain extension options. But read on for more details — and to see how 7 other TLDs performed in our test.

You might be surprised.

You can also click here to get a PDF version of the full results, including a few bonus demographic-specific takeaways that aren’t in this article.

Contents

How much do people trust .com vs .org, .co and other domain extensions?

A domain people trust is more likely to get clicked on, linked to and shared.

Making it easier to build a brand with.

Here are the perceived trustworthiness scores of the 8 top-level domains we tested, on a scale of 1 – 5:

Domain extensions perceived trustworthiness

As you can see, .com comes out on top with a trust score of 3.5.

But it doesn’t win by a huge amount: the .co TLD comes in right behind it with a 3.4. Followed by .org and .us, each with a 3.3.

Bringing up the rear is .biz with a 2.9 trust rating: 17% lower than .com’s. (And .io doesn’t do much better than that.)

Key takeaway: .com is the #1 most trusted domain extension, with .co in a close second place.

How memorable are different domain extensions?

An important factor for any URL is how easy it is to remember.

The question we wanted to answer is, are people more likely to remember URLs with some TLDs over others?

As you can see, yes they are:

Domain extensions memorability rankings

The .com domain extension comes out on top here again, with a 44% memorability score.

That means people correctly remembered the .com URL 44% of the time.

Second place goes to .co again, but this time it’s a wider gap: .co earned a 33% memorability score. So it’s a quarter less memorable than .com. Quite significant.

What about comparing .com to two of its oldest competitors, .net and .org? You can see it’s not even close: .net gets a 25% and .org gets a 32%.

Interestingly, .biz has a memorability score of 31%. Which is actually better than .us, .io, .net, and especially .blog (which is the least memorable, at 24%).

I was surprised to see .net perform so much worse on this test than .biz.

However, it makes sense considering that mental categorization is a major part of how memory works.

My theory is that people put the .net TLD in the same mental category as .com: they’re both general common TLDs that are often used for commercial sites.

However, since .com is the most dominant TLD in that category, .net often gets mis-remembered as .com. (This theory is supported by the next test result, which you’ll see in a minute.)

On the other hand, .biz may not fit into the same mental category as .net and .com.

Think about it:

If you see example.com, example.net, and example.biz, doesn’t the .biz version jump out at you a little? (Even if it’s in a bad way.)

That may be why .biz domains are more memorable — despite being less trustworthy — than .net ones.

Just to see all the data we have so far in the same place, here are the memorability results again alongside the trust ratings we saw before.

TLD trust ratings and memorability

So far .com is winning this race, with .co in second place overall and .org in third.

Key takeaway: .com URLs are over 33% more memorable than URLs with other TLDs.

When people remember the top-level domain incorrectly, which TLD do they remember instead?

This last factor is an interesting one:

When people remember the URL almost correctly — when they remember the brand name but put the wrong domain extension at the end — which domain extension do they say?

This helps us see how much of a bias people have in favor of each TLD.

For example, if the correct URL was mattressrankings dot net but they misremembered it as mattressrankings dot com instead, that would count as a “point” for the .com TLD.

The results of this test show an even bigger difference between .com vs other domains.

Here’s the data:

Domain extensions times used instead of actual - bias toward .com

First place again goes to .com, by far.

Out of all the wrong-but-almost-right answers, 57 of them said .com instead of the correct TLD. That’s 3.8 times more often than the next highest, .org.

When people aren’t sure which TLD a website uses, they’re much more likely to guess it’s .com than anything else.

In other words, .com domains are still thought of as the default.

The distant second place goes to .org, which people guessed only 15 times: 26% as often as they guessed .com.

Not shown on the chart above is the .co.uk domain suffix, which received two guesses. But it wasn’t a subject of this study (maybe I’ll do another study to cover more country code top-level domains/ccTLDs).

Key takeaway: People are 3.8 times more likely to assume a URL ends in .com than in anything else.

Conclusion: Rankings and comparison of all 8 domain extensions, plus expert opinions

Here are all three ratings for the list of domain extensions in a single chart:

TLD trust ratings, memorability and times used instead of actual

Bottom line:

Are you considering .com vs .org vs .net? If so, according to this data, .com has a sizable edge.

A closer contender in most regards would be .co, which is also one of the most trusted domain extensions as you can see above.

But .com still seems to be the best domain extension:

  • .com URLs are over 33% more memorable than URLs with other top-level domains.
  • .com is the #1 most trusted TLD, with .co in a close second place.
  • When people try to remember a URL, they’re 3.8 times more likely to assume it ends in .com than anything else.

Of course, all of this comes at a price.

Registering a .com domain name is often much more expensive than registering a domain with another TLD:

Domain registration prices for different domain extensions

Is it really worth paying thousands more for the .com than for the .org, .net, or .co domain extension?

That depends.

As this study shows, .com domains do come with significant benefits. If you’re running an online business and can afford to buy the .com, it’s probably worth it.

But as Cyrus Shepard points out below, that doesn’t mean .com is always the best choice.

It depends on the organization as well as the types of content that will be on the site.

For example, non-profits aren’t required to use the .org TLD. But doing so has become such a common practice that wikipedia.com, savethechildren.com, and charitywater.com all look pretty strange compared to their .org alternatives.

Let’s see what else Cyrus and a few other experts have to say about these findings.

Cyrus Shepard, Founder of Zyppy.com:

“Wow, terrific study. A few things jump out at me.

1. Obviously, this reinforces .com as the standard choice of domain extensions. As the old saying went, ‘Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM’ (computers). Similarly, buying the .com if you can get it, is typically going to be your best bet. (unless, of course, a visible brand is using one of the other extensions)

2. It’s hilarious to me that people trust .co – a country code top-level domain for Colombia – more than they do .org – a generic top-level domain used by Wikipedia, non-profits, and other orgs.

3. I’d stay away from .biz domains at all cost. Not only does this survey show a low trust, I’ve seen several other studies over the years that show folks tend to associate this extension with spam.

4. Finally, despite the dominant trust and memorability of .com domains, I believe it’s still fair to use the extension that best works for you. Most of the time, that’s going to be the .com. Many sites—Wikipedia being the obvious example—use .org and other extensions with little actual downside. Of course, if you’re a smaller player, or there are other businesses with similar domain names in your space, it’s always going to be best to go with the .com, the reasons for which are made obvious by this survey.”

Glen Allsopp, Founder of Gaps and Detailed

“I had to double check the .biz numbers with Kyle as I just couldn’t believe them upfront. Nine people, who weren’t originally shown a .biz domain, thought that’s what they might have seen when asked later on? That’s really surprising.

He reminded me that only 9 of 1,500 people acted in this way but I was still shocked.

I’m really happy to see .co domains ranking highly as I naturally trust them more as well. I can’t logically tell you why (close to .com? the new thing for makers?) but it’s nice to see I’m not alone.”

Britney Muller, Founder of Pryde Marketing and Senior SEO Scientist at Moz

“It’s always been industry standard to secure a .com instead of another TLD due to it being so commonly used. The thought process being; people might forget your URL, or go to the .com site if you use a less common TLD. However, we’ve never had any research backing this theory up, UNTIL NOW!

The fact that 57 people used .com instead of the actual TLD is proof of this concept. What surprised me most is that individuals found both .com and .co to be more trustworthy than .org, (which has historically been thought of as being perceived slightly more credible). I’m curious if the equivalent .org and .us perception of trust has anything to do with 19.4% of testers living in Asia and 9% in Europe where .us might be more readily used or hold more weight?

Incredible work, Kyle! We need more studies done like this in our space!”

[NOTE: Britney’s theory is correct: people in the USA rate .org slightly higher than .us (3.27 vs 3.23), while it’s the opposite for people outside the USA (3.42 vs 3.54). -Kyle]

Tim Soulo, CMO & Product Advisor at Ahrefs

“I’m quite surprised with the ‘trust rating’ results. I thought that ‘.com’ would outperform others by a much larger margin.”

Methodology: Who we studied and how

We conducted this research using a tricky survey structure with three major parts:

Part 1: Perceived trustworthiness. We asked how trustworthy people would expect a site to be based purely on its URL, using the made-up brand “mattressrankings.__” as the domain, with the blank filled in randomly with either .com, .net, .org, or one of the five other domain extensions I mentioned above. (We did not specifically draw people’s attention to the domain extensions.)

Part 2: Palate cleanser. The second part of the survey consisted of several unrelated questions designed to distract people and find out their demographics.

Part 3: Memorability. Now that they’d been distracted for a little while, in the last part of the survey we asked people to write the exact URL they saw at the beginning. (They were not able to go back to the original question to see it again.)

Here were the demographics of the 1,500 people surveyed:

Respondent locations and ages

 

What did you think of this experiment? Did the results surprise you?

Leave a comment below to let me know.

And if you want to grow your business this year, check out my guide to how to build a high-value content marketing funnel.

Written by Jane