The Age-Old Second Best Extension Debate: .net or .org?Posted: March 1, 2012
Enough about new TLDs – let’s talk about two of the most popular ones that already exist!
There’s never a debate on which extension is the king of domains – .com obviously claims that crown. In general, you should always stick with .com for your primary business domain. What about secondary domains you get for SEO purposes though? Or if you are a domain investor, what about getting a domain for resale?
The debate between .net and .org has raged for many years. There indeed once was a time when .org was a clear third behind .net, but in recent years it has gained a lot of steam. Several SEO authorities such as SEOMoz claim that .org is more helpful for SEO than .net. But .net has always had the “.com alternative” label attached to it. How can you decide?
One thing you can look at are what other popular sites use. For this, we’ll look at the top million sites on the internet as gathered by Alexa (international) and Quantcast (US). Interestingly, their lists tell different tales. Below are the list of amount of sites in each index by extension for .com, .net and .org:
.com: 517,898 sites
.net: 59,746 sites
.org: 40,441 sites
.com: 740,610 sites
.net: 60,377 sites
.org: 102,877 sites
Alexa’s top million sites would seem to indicate .net at a clear advantage over .org internationally. However, Quantcast actually shows an even larger ratio in favor of .org, indicating more popular .org than .net sites in the US.
If you look more closely through the .net and .org sites in Alexa’s top million sites, you’ll find a lot more sites based out of Asia in .net than .org. Also, some countries have country code extension equivalents of .com AND .org but NOT .net, which may make .net a more interesting choice for international-targeted sites based in those countries.
Many domain investors may be quick to discount Quantcast since it is only US traffic. Consider however that if Alexa’s skew towards .net is largely from Asian countries, with many sites not in English, then for English domains in the international space, .net and .org may be more neck and neck.
Also, there are no .net sites in Alexa’s top 100 sites while there are 3 .orgs (Wikipedia, Craigslist and WordPress). In fact, those 3 sites alone may be a significant reason for .org’s resurgence in recent years, as they are very prominent resources that many people use regularly.
One thing to keep in mind is that some areas will simply fit better with .org while others will fit better with .net. Anything non-profit, charity or organization-related, health, education, politics, law and several other areas tend to fit .org better while consumer products and services tend to fit .net better. So the answer of second-best wouldn’t be decisive in all cases even if the data showed a definite winner.
We feel that .org is often the better extension to get because of the trust and authority it conveys and the SEO benefits it can yield. We do feel it’s worth looking at both extensions for generic domains that can boost your business’s SEO efforts, as a relatively small expense can bring in a lot of continual free targeted traffic.