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So you’re ready to register a domain. You already have your name picked out and have chosen a registrar.

But which domain extension should you go with?

While your domain name significantly impacts your branding and discoverability, the extension you choose will affect how people view your website.

.org and .com are two of the most popular domain extensions. Neither of them has special requirements. The .com extension is used by 47.5% of all websites, with .org coming second at only 4.6%.

But popularity isn’t everything.

With that in mind, here’s a detailed .org vs. .com guide. Let’s learn about what they are, what they’re best for and when you should use them.

What is a domain and how does it work?

Make a name for your website. Literally. Search available domain names on Bluehost

If websites didn’t have names, how would you be able to visit them? Can you tell a website’s purpose before even visiting it?

Without a domain, a website is only locatable via its IP address — a unique set of numbers assigned to a particular network.

It would be impossible to memorize long strings of numbers. So a domain name identifies a website instead. A domain name is a unique, readable name that serves as a web address for a particular website.

When you type in a domain, you connect to the domain name system (DNS). The domain name is translated to an IP address, and you can connect to the server associated with that IP. This simple system keeps the entire internet running.

A domain consists of two parts: the domain name (which can be almost anything you want) and the domain extension, also known as the top-level domain (TLD). The TLD appears at the end of a domain name, separated by a dot. For example, “.com” is a domain extension.

The TLD indicates the purpose of a website at a glance. For instance, if you visit a .edu website, you know immediately to expect high-quality, educational content.

Websites can have identical domain names, but the combination of name and extension must be unique.

To get a domain for your website, you must register it with an authorized domain registrar. Most web hosts provide this service either via a partnership or by running their own domain registration service.

For instance, at Bluehost, we provide ICANN-accredited domain name registration and web hosting. We also handle domain name registration, so setting up a website is as convenient as possible.

What is a .org website?

The .org domain extension stands for “organization,” and it was made primarily for charitable foundations, community organizations and other nonprofits. In other words, it’s suitable for websites that are not primarily commercial.

Generally, the .org TLD conveys a nonprofit, community-driven purpose at a glance. That helps establish website authenticity and credibility.

.org websites are often used to accept online donations, raise awareness, provide information and search for volunteers. So visitors may expect any of these if you use a .org extension.

However, although users associate the .org extension with charities and similar initiatives, not all .org websites are nonprofits. Anyone can register a website with this domain extension.

The .org TLD is owned by the Public Interest Registry, a nonprofit based in the U.S., so it is subject to U.S. jurisdiction.

What is a .com website?

The .com domain extension stands for “commercial,” and it was initially made for commercial entities and businesses. In this way, it’s somewhat opposite to .org websites, which are usually nonprofits.

Nowadays, .com is seen as the default domain extension for general-purpose websites. If no other extension suits your website better, then .com may be appropriate.

A .com website is typically intended for eCommerce and commercial
business websites, but in practice, it is used by blogs, personal websites, informational websites and anything else you can imagine.

According to the Domain Name Industry Brief, .com was the most popular TLD, with 161.6 million reported domain names using it as of March 31, 2023. This report showed that .org accounted for 10.7 million reported domain names during the same period.

The proliferation of .com as a TLD makes it familiar and accessible to visitors, no matter what type of website you’re running.

That’s why some nonprofit organizations still choose to register a .com domain name.

Much like .org, a U.S. company, Verisign, owns the .com domain extension, so all content published on .com websites must follow U.S. laws.

That’s why some nonprofit organizations still choose to register a .com domain name.

Much like .org, a U.S. company, Verisign, owns the .com domain extension, so all content published on .com websites must follow U.S. laws.

Differences between .org and .com

While both .org and .com are TLDs with no special requirements to register, they were made for slightly different purposes.

.org and .com TLDs have unique benefits and drawbacks.

Let’s go over the differences between .com and .org domain extensions.

Pricing

Registration fees for .org and .com domains are similar. Still, factors such as discounts or your selected domain name may affect the pricing. High-demand domain names can cost much more than listed, regardless of the TLD you choose.

With Bluehost, you can register a domain for the first year at $9.99 for a .org website and $12.99 for a .com website. Both extensions renew for $19.99/year.

.com

  • The .com extension is usually more expensive than some infrequently used TLDs but more affordable than niche extensions like .blog or .me.
  • Finding the domain you want with a .com extension can be challenging, as it’s the most popular and, thus, most competitive.

.org

  • .org domains can be slightly less expensive, depending on the domain registrar.
  • Finding the domain you want with the .org extension is much easier. However, .org is the second-most popular TLD, so it can still be tricky.

Credibility and trustworthiness

.org conveys trustworthiness in search results.

Do people trust your domain extension? Those additional letters at the end of your domain name can significantly impact how visitors view your website.

.com

  • The .com extension is generally seen as the default domain extension for all websites.
  • People are more likely to trust a .com domain than other TLDs due to its familiarity.
  • .com domains are 33% more memorable, and people are 3.8 times more likely to assume a URL they don’t remember ends in .com.

.org

  • The .org extension is widely associated with nonprofit organizations, so people see it as inherently trustworthy and credible.
  • Though not as common as .com, .org is still extremely popular.
  • You may have limited reach if you use a .org TLD with a for-profit business. Many people will assume you run a nonprofit entity, not an eCommerce store.

Professionalism

While professionalism is more about your website content than anything else, the TLD you choose will also contribute toward your branding.

.com

  • The .com domain is intended for commercial websites but is suitable for all kinds.
  • A business or eCommerce website using a .com extension may be considered more professional than websites using less common, “trendier” TLDs like .lol or .ninja.
  • The .com TLD is seen as somewhat generic, but this can be an asset, as opposed to alienating potential customers with a TLD they may perceive as unprofessional.

.org

  • If your website aligns with most visitors’ expectations of a nonprofit, mission-driven organization implied by the .org TLD, they will likely see your website as professional.
  • Commercial businesses that use the .org extension may need clarification for visitors expecting an educational, philanthropic website.
  • Many website visitors expect you to use the .org extension if you run a nonprofit organization.
  • It can be challenging to monetize a .org website, as visitors may see using the extension for commercial purposes as unprofessional.
.com and .org are treated the same by SEO standards.

Neither .com nor .org directly affect search engine optimization (SEO). However, your TLD can have a negligible impact on metrics like user engagement and perception of your brand, which can affect SEO.

  • How users perceive your domain’s trustworthiness and professionalism can impact your click-through rate (CTR) and engagement.
  • Your branding and how it aligns with your TLD can affect engagement. For example, visitors who expect a nonprofit might immediately leave if you use a .org domain name for an eCommerce website, leading to a high bounce rate and lower engagement.
  • If you have a .org domain, sometimes users will click on the identical .com version, assuming it’s correct.

Branding

The .org TLD in WordPress.org conveys its open-source community focus.

Your TLD can significantly impact visitors’ perception of your website’s identity and intent.

.com

  • A .com website could be just about anything, so people will generally look at the domain name, meta title and description for an idea of what your website is about.
  • Compared to a domain extension like .store, where the purpose is immediately apparent, visitors will be open to anything when they visit your website.
  • If you own a .com website, people will assume you’re running a business of some sort.

.org

  • .org is associated with nonprofits and organizations, so it’s expected to be formal, community-driven and educational.
  • The proliferation of for-profit .org sites may somewhat impact this assumed identity.
  • If your business has a strong mission (e.g., advocacy, donating to charity or selling environmentally-friendly products), you could still reasonably use a .org domain.

When to use .org vs. .com

While anyone can use .org or .com, they can significantly affect how people view your website. If your organization is nonprofit, community-focused or has a strong mission, then use .org. Use .com if you run a commercial business or want to take advantage of the TLD’s broader appeal.

Your TLD largely depends on the purpose of your website. Here’s a quick guide for a variety of websites.

Personal websites

The broad appeal of .com is usually the ideal choice for personal websites such as blogs.

The Pinch of Yum website.

For a good example, check out the Pinch of Yum website. Although it started out as a personal food blog, the website has grown into a full-fledged business.

Business websites

The .com TLD was made for commercial businesses, which makes it the best option for any type of business website.

However, if your small business or enterprise has a community-driven approach or your desired domain name is unavailable with a .com TLD, a .org extension may be appropriate.

Bluehost is a commercial business and uses the .com TLD.

For an example of .com for commercial purposes, look no further than Bluehost. As a commercial business offering web hosting, .com is the most suitable TLD.

Nonprofit websites

If you operate a nonprofit, charity or educational website, .org is undoubtedly the best choice. But you can choose .com for its trustworthiness and popularity.

The ASPCA website is a nonprofit and uses .org.

The ASPCA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing animal cruelty, and it appropriately uses a .org TLD.

eCommerce websites
Like business websites, eCommerce sites are better off with a .com extension. However, you can use .org if your business donates a significant percentage of its profit to charity.

The shoe giant Nike uses the .com domain extension.

Nike is an excellent example of an eCommerce business that uses the .com extension.

Alternative extensions to .org or .com

Other TLDs offered by Bluehost.

There are many types of domain extensions to choose from. Some of them are restricted to certain organizations that meet specific requirements. For example, .edu is limited to educational institutions.

There are also country-code top-level domains (ccTLDs) reserved for specific countries. Examples include .co.uk and .eu.

You can also use generic top-level domains (gTLDs). These include .org and .com, but there are hundreds more. Here are just a few examples:

  • .net
  • .info
  • .biz
  • .agency
  • .blog
  • .club
  • .community
  • .cool
  • .digital
  • .expert
  • .florist
  • .gallery
  • .gov
  • .institute
  • .io
  • .life
  • .media
  • .name
  • .photography
  • .place
  • .website
  • .xyz

Final thoughts: What is the difference between .org and .com?

A lot goes into consideration when choosing the right domain. But .org is generally best for nonprofits, charities and community-driven organizations, while .com will work for just about any website, especially business websites.

You’re free to choose either of these options, but your choice will impact how people see your brand.

Ready to make your choice? Whether you pick .com or .org, Bluehost’s affordable WordPress hosting comes with a free domain for the first year.

FAQs about .org and .com

Should I use .com or .org?

The .org TLD is best for nonprofit organizations, while .com is ideal for commercial businesses. However, your choice depends on your intent, target audience and branding.

Is .com the best domain?

Whether or not .com is best for you depends on various factors, including your region, niche and objective. But .com is the most familiar TLD and is ideal for most websites.

Are .org websites safe?

Anyone can register a .org website, so it is not inherently safer or more credible than other domain name extensions.

How do I get a .org website?

As .org websites have no special requirements (you do not need to run a nonprofit to use this domain), you can register with any domain registrar, such as Bluehost.

Is a .org website more professional?

That depends on the individual website. Your nonprofit organization may be seen as more professional and credible if you use the .org extension.

How much does a .org domain cost?

The cost of a .org domain varies depending on the hosting provider you choose. With Bluehost, you can purchase a .org domain for $9.99 for the first year and renew at $19.99/year.

  • Minal Agarwal

    Minal is the Director of Brand Marketing at Bluehost. With over 15 years of business experience in the technology industry, she strives to create solutions and content that fulfill a customer's needs. She is a dog mom and a stickler for calendaring.

    Education
    Masters in Marketing Management
    Previous Experience
    Strategic Partnerships, Customer Success, Events and Community
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