Of course you want a .com, but why? Our opinion on the necessity to have a coveted .com web address. Additionally, what to do when you can't find a good URL for your organization.
To explain to those who may not know your domain name is what goes between www. and .com.
.com, .edu, .org, etc. are called extensions. The whole string put together is know as a URL (uniform resource locator). Sorry if that is redundant to any readers, but I want to be accurate when getting technical.
When you break it down, your domain extension does not matter. We have been operating under a .co for years now, and have seen great traffic and subsequent prosperity. We have clients that have sites under all variations of extensions from the dated .Net to the hip .photography. Though we've seen success using these extensions, that's not to say that it isn't a little trickier to brand such a website.
A little history for those who may not know why we even have extensions. In the early days of the internet, we knew that sites would need to be categorized into a few separate sections. First came the introduction of the .com for commerce sites, .US for United States location code, .mil for US military sites, .edu for education sites, .org for non-profit sites, .gov for government funded sites and .net derived from network technology. These were known as the generic top-level domain names introduced in 1985 (before the wide-spread adoption of the internet). Previous to that, the internet was known as the ARPANET (A military information structure that helped get information to frontline operations around the world).
Sadly we still live in a world in which the .com still rules supreme (sort of), but it does not have a technical advantage; just a phycological advantage. When you tell someone what your web address is, sometimes they assume or even thoughtlessly add the .com at the end of the address.
For instance, www.YourSite.Photography may be entered by the layman as www.YourSite.Photography.com
This will undoubtedly take them to a 404 page. While this still happens, it is becoming less and less of an issue.
So how do you break the psychology behind the domain name extension. For us we branded ourselves in early times as DSB Creative.co. We literally had to include our damn extension in our company and a variation of our incorporated name. Don't let that scare you though, this was five years ago. Very few people had heard of the .co extension. This was years before the advent of the .club, .army, .technology .attorney, .guru, .church, etc. Now people use these domain names in order to get a domain name that sticks in people's minds better.
Nowadays people are much more savvy to the ways of wild extensions. Even older generations understand the difference, for the most part. This is due to the fact that it is extremely hard to get a decent .com address. New companies find it very difficult to get online with there existing name, so what do they do? They get a less popular URL that ends in .co, .technology, .us etc. Some think that this is damaging to the company's on-line image. In our experiences this is just not true. After taking surveys, asking our clients and talking to end-users, we have found that less and less people really care what the extension of a URL is.
.com, .edu, .org and .net have no advantage when it comes to Search Engine Optimization. Their only slight advantage may be that they have been registered longer than the hip new cousin extensions. This is easily solvable; just be sure to register your domain name on the longest term possible. Usually that is about a five year purchase.
Here is a list of all of the english top-level domain names.
In our opinion, go out there and register a fun URL and do an a/b marketing campaign with it. This should be proof enough that the less popular domain names are effective.