What Does .io Mean and What is the .io Domain Extension?

.io Mean

Before we get into insights on “.io”, it is important to gain an understanding of the term “TLD”. It is the short form of “top-level domain” and defines how a domain name ends. Common examples of TLDs are .com, .org, .net, .edu, .io, and many more. There are also a plethora of TLDs that are country-based, for example, .co.uk, .au, .ca, etc. As per the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), over 1500 TLDs are currently in use.

TLD is of two types:

1. Generic top-level domains (gTLDs)

They are used to depict the type of company or the organization that owns the website. Examples of gTLD include .net, .org, .estate, etc.

2. Country code top-level domains (ccTLDs)

They refer to a domain used by a country. They always consist of 2 alphabets. Examples of ccTLDs include .us, .ca, .in, and .uk.

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What Exactly is the .io Domain?

According to Wikipedia, .io is the country code top-level domain (ccTLD) for the British Indian Ocean (IO) Territory. In recent years, the prominence of .io domains has also surged, in particular, for tech and SaaS-based startup companies. This is because developers have started linking the “io” term with input/output, which signifies programs or operations that exchange data between computers and other devices.

How to Find the Right TLD for Your Company?

In this day and age, launching a brand without a matching domain is impossible. When it comes to startups, they usually have two options:

  • Select a brand name whose domain name can be easily acquired.
  • Get in touch with the proprietor of the domain you plan to use and buy it.

When you settle on the first option, it gives you the leeway to come up with unique, catchy names for your brand, for example, Uber, Nike, eBay, etc. Also, this is the reason why several companies have mushroomed in current times with fascinating names.

Most of the good-sounding .com domains are already being used. Albeit, if you have creative prowess, you can generate a two-worded brand name that is yet to be reserved. But, in case you want only a specific name, it may cost you a fortune to obtain the corresponding domain.

Obviously, you have the recourse to other choices as well. You can opt for extensions such as .co, .site, .biz, .xyz, etc. Yet not any of them bolsters the credibility of a website or a brand the way .com extension does.

Instances of websites migrated from .com to other apt extensions

In a few cases, businesses have either removed or forwarded their original .com domains. These are replaced by the .io domain that is shorter and more appropriate. The same applies to other domains as well.

For example, the name of the website tour-eiffel.com has rechristened Toureiffel.paris – something that is friendlier and geographically more relevant. Even it is easier to type without the unnecessary burden of the hyphen.

Also the website name parisfashionweek.com was changed to more apt Parisfashionweek.buzz to give an indication of the frenetic pace at which the fashion world works.

In addition, you can shorten and tweak your existing domain. This trend has caught the attention of several companies. For instance, a leading real estate company robsullivanrealestate.com fully removed .com from its domain by changing to more relevant robsullivan.estate.

The practice to shorten domain names has always been popular, especially with companies that have long-tailed business names. One such example is the UK’s well-known glass manufacturer Essex Safety Glass that changed their website’s URL from essexsafetyglass.co.uk to Esg.glass.

Sadly, there are just a handful of .com domains with 3-4 characters currently available. This makes it almost inconceivable to use a suitable abbreviation in the .com domain. Thankfully, a sizable increase in the number of available TLDs in recent years has enabled businesses to determine novel ways and make the most of shorter, easy-to-remember domain names. This has also leveraged their brand recognition to a great extent.

What is the Contribution of the .io Domain in the Tech Space?

It may come to your notice that lots of SaaS-based companies and tech startups have been using the .io domain extension. Some websites that are worth mentioning include keywordtool.io, readthedocs.io, angular.io, greenhouse.io, etherscan.io, gleam.io, and material.io.

There is an underlying reason behind using the .io extension. It is akin to the acronym I/O meaning input/output, a commonly used term to discuss computing mechanisms. Even though technically, it alludes to a country-specific domain, the majority of people do not get it associated with its host territory.

.io is fairly easy to keep in mind or pronounce. Plus, it is short and has a visual element attached to it – a vertical bar adjoined with a circle. The yearly cost of .io domains ranges anything between $33 and $99. Even though .io is more costly than several other domains, the pricing is done depending on the registrar you pick.

Pros and Cons of the .io Domain

Just like any other TLD domain extension, .io has its own set of pros and cons that we will be discussing in detail in this section.

Pros of .io domain

  • Easily to recognize

Being one of the most recent extensions, the .io domain has trendy and ingenious undertones associated with startups, tech companies, and communities that primarily work for entrepreneurial or technology-linked services.

Associations of such kinds help enhance your brand prominence. People will gain an understanding of the areas of specialization and diversification of your business.

  • Domain name availability

Because of the newness of .io domains, more variants of website names are available in contrast to .com. The .io domain comes up with a greater likelihood that the website name of your choice will be available.

  • Domain hacks support catchy website names

A domain hack makes reference to the practice of making use of a domain name suggesting a name, word, or phrase, while two or multiple adjacent domain levels are concatenated. For instance, anima.ls, rive.rs, clou.ds, etc. In the case of the .io domain, hacks take in references such as rub.io, card.io, postach.io, and many more.

This kind of hacks helps make the name of your website catchy and easy to remember. As a consequence, it can play a vital role in boosting brand awareness.

  • Recognized as a generic, top-level domain by Google

We have already mentioned earlier that TLDs are categorized into two groups, namely generic top-level domains (gTLD), and country-code top-level domains (ccTLD).

Formally, .io is a ccTLD. However, due to its burgeoning popularity and widespread utilization by startups and tech companies, .io is unofficially considered a gTLD. Even Google has adopted it as a gTLD for use within the British Indian Ocean Territory. Thus, every so often, to target ads in Google, webmasters and users look at .io as more of a gTLD than ccTLD.

Therefore, the organic traffic to your website will not be adversely impacted by the .io extension. Furthermore, on the off chance, your website is a high-ranking one it will have exposure not just within the British Indian Territory but across the world.

  • Shorter URLs

Since the domain has two characters, it is shorter in comparison with several other extensions. This allows creating short URLs that can be easily typed by website visitors and thus makes browsing simpler.

Many renowned companies have done supplementary registration to the .io domain. These include google.io, coke.io, and yahoo.io. Although, these companies do not use this domain in profusion, still, they have reserved it to safeguard intellectual property. All of them just have the .io domain forwarded to their principal domain.

Cons of a .io domain

  • New and unconventional domain

When compared with the .com domain, the .io domain has lesser global recognition. The .com domain has garnered unwavering reliability and stability over the years. It makes the brand maturity known as well. On the other hand, the .io domain, because of its novelty, has not gained extensive usage or reputation.

The .io domain is relatively new. Consequently, its reputation is not as overarching as that of the .com domain and some other TLDs. Nonetheless, Google metes out no preferential treatment to any TLDs. As far as website rankings are concerned, it treats all of them equally.

  • Not the first priority among users

The .com is the most sought TLD. Nearly all users consider this extension initially while looking for a website name for their businesses or brands.

Evidently, .io is less popular than .com. Usually, .io is more preferred by companies that are driven by futuristic and innovative technologies. These companies believe their target audience is exclusive and that .io TLD will put more faith and attach more recognition to their websites.

  • May indicate brand weakness

A website URL with .io extension may communicate the probable newness of a company. It may also signal that the company has not made many forays in the market. So, it becomes difficult to assess its trustworthiness. This may not be a serious problem for tech firms or SaaS companies but other brands may recoil from using it.

  • It can result in inferior web searches

Till the time your brand does not attain some popularity, it may be difficult to trace it in web searches. When the website visitors type your brand name only, without its tailed .io extension, odds are high that your brand may not feature at the top of Google’s SERPs.

How Safe are .io Domains?

Many rules and security measures are put into action as far as all domains are concerned. These are used to ratify the authenticity of a registrar and .io domains are no exception.

Registry regulations mandate that “No .io domain may be used directly or indirectly, for any purpose that is sexual or pornographic in nature or violates the statutory laws of any nation.” If a registrar does not follow this regulation, the domain can be revoked by the nic.io registry right away.

If you want to keep up the safety of your .io domain, there is a domain privacy service that offers protection to your data from potential hackers and spammers. The service makes sure your confidential information is concealed from the public database.

Plus, there is a Domain Name System (DNS) service that ensures 24X7 uptime as well as site security. It involves an added validation layer combined with 2-factor authentication and safeguards your business from cybercriminals.

Wrapping up

It is quite possible that people external to the tech sector may not fully align with the .io extension. However, it is worth considering given that your tech or SaaS startup needs a domain, and you are confused about choosing either a long and eminently forgettable .com extension or a short and highly brand-worthy .io extension. In case you are looking for a web address for a SaaS company, the .io extension will possibly be the most effective choice to develop your brand.


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