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What Is the .io Domain Extension, and Why Do Tech Sites Use It?

In the digital era, establishing your brand’s web presence is crucial. The first step is creating a website with two main components: the website name and a domain extension.

While most people instinctively search for a business using the .com extension, other options are available. One such extension gaining popularity among Tech sites is .io. In this article, we explore the meaning behind .io and the reason for the sudden rise in its popularity.

What Is a Domain?

A domain refers to the unique address of a website on the internet. It comprises the website name and a domain extension. In most cases, the website name is the name of the brand or business and is the most unique property in the domain.

Domain extensions refer to the combination of characters that follow the period after the website name. By themselves, domain extensions are not exclusive to a single website. The .com extension has over 200 million registered websites, according to Colorlib.

Domain extensions are categorized into sponsored, country code, and generic. Sponsored domains are ultra-specific and can only be used by organizations or businesses in a specific category.

We have .edu for schools and .gov for government bodies, while country code domains specify the location of the business. They include .us for the United States and .uk for the United Kingdom. The last category is the most widely used and available, including top-level domains (TLD) like .com, .tech, .site, .net, and .io.

What Does the .io Domain Extension Mean?

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Each domain extension serves a specific use, and knowing how to choose a top-level domain for your site is important. While .com domains suggest that the website is for commercial purposes, the meaning of the .io domain is not so clear.

Originally, the .io domain extension was a country code top-level domain name registered and assigned to the British Indian Ocean Territory, an overseas territory of the United Kingdom. However, the domain was never restricted to geographical identification only. Since then, the .io domain extension has acquired more than one meaning.

In the tech industry, the .io domain extension points to a computer science abbreviation, IO, which describes input/output, a common computer science abbreviation. Similarly, gaming projects in the Web3 industry use .io as a matching domain name to refer to web games with multiplayer components and minimalist graphics.

Why Do Tech Sites Use the .io Domain Extension?

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Tech companies are abandoning conventional .com domain extensions for cheaper, more specific alternatives, but that’s not the only reason.

Affiliation With the Tech Industry

Tech companies prefer the .io domain extension because of its secondary meaning. In computer science, the characters of the extension IO is a common abbreviation for input/output, the process through which computers and other information systems work.

Understandably, people in the tech industry may quickly associate a website with the .io domain extension with the cryptocurrency industry. Similarly, in the web3 industry, another innovative concept in the tech industry, cryptocurrency, and gaming websites are adapting the extension to the web3 industry.

Availability and Cost

.io domains are much more available than the popular counterparts .com or .net. The average person looking to register a domain is more likely to attempt to register a .com. But most .com domains are already taken.

According to a survey by Web Technology Surveys, .com domains dominate almost 50% of all domains registered, while .io domains account for barely 1% of all registered domains. What this means for a new brand is that they are more likely to find that a domain with their business name and the .com extension has already been registered than they are to find a website with the .io extension and their business name.

Further, .com domain extensions are just as popular as they are expensive. According to Businesswire, Voice.com was sold in 2019 for a whopping $30 million. In comparison, the most expensive .io domain sold, mint.io, was reported to have sold for $230,000 by Namebio. So despite the .io rising popularity, .com domains are more widely sought after and so more expensive.

Easily Customizable

An important thing to consider when coming up with a website name is to make it short and memorable, making It easy for users and your customers to recall. The .io extension, with only two characters, is short and can easily blend in with an innovative website name.

The .io extension is also a perfect match for a business that ends with similar characters. Such lucky business owners have the added advantage of playing around with the characters to make their websites even more memorable. For example, a photographer looking to land a job with a website portfolio could create a domain like “brightstud.io.”

Search Engine Recognition

Search engines are the keyhole to the internet, so the best way to gain organic traffic to your website is to be recognized by search engines. Usually, country code domains are treated specially by search engines like Google.

For example, Google is less likely to provide search engine results containing websites with the Norwegian country code domain, .no, to a user in the United States. Despite the .io domain extensions’ roots as a country code domain, Google recognizes that people outside the British Indian Ocean territory commonly use the extension. You can successfully drive traffic to your .io domain website with a deeper understanding of how search engines work.

Cons of the .io Domain Extension

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Like a coin with two sides, there are some disadvantages to using the .io extension.

Low Recognition

While .io extensions are more unique than the generic .com or .net options, the low popularity of the extension can also be a disadvantage. An informed searcher is more likely to search for a business name with the .com extension. A brand with a .io domain must work harder to ensure that its website, extension included, is memorable enough to drive traffic.

Lack of Confidence

It is no question that there are almost as many sketchy sites as there are legitimate ones on the web. As much people tend to trust what seems familiar. The .io domain extension could cause confusion and a lack of confidence in the website’s legitimacy. Nevertheless, marketing and advertisement strategies can help businesses combat this disadvantage.

Is a .io Domain Right For You?

Whether or not you should use a top-level domain depends on the benefits it offers your company. A tech company or one in the cryptocurrency industry stands the most to benefit.

When using the .io domain extension as a company, not in the tech industry, it’s important to establish the legitimacy of your business by specifying your services and contact information on your website. The .io domain extension is widely available to businesses in any industry or location worldwide.


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