There are now more than 1,000 suffixes that can appear after the final dot in your web address, from .ac to .zone.
But luckily for anyone with the attention span of a mere mortal, this guide will focus on just two of them. Those all-time classics: .com and .co.uk.
For most British businesses and webmasters outside of the non-profit sector, one of these two suffixes – or top-level domains (TLDs) – is likely the most logical choice for bookending a web address. But which one should you choose? Well, the answer mainly depends on what type of business you run and where your customers are based.
In this article, we’ll dive into the key differences between .com and .co.uk, why you should choose one over the other, and where you can buy a domain with these suffixes.
- What’s the difference between .com and .co.uk?
- What about .uk?
- .com vs .co.uk – which should I use for my website?
- Should I buy both?
- What’s the difference in cost?
- How to buy and manage your domain name
- Register your domain with 20i today
What’s the difference between .com and .co.uk?
The difference mainly comes down to geography. A .com domain flags up a website as being either based in the US or operating as a global player. Most American companies use .com as their TLD, as the local .us extension has never really taken off across the pond. Firms that trade internationally choose it for obvious reasons: it’s generic and stands for ‘company’.
What is the .co.uk domain used for?
A .co.uk top-level domain, meanwhile, signposts your business as being based in the UK, or at least lets the internet know that it trades there exclusively.
At this point, we need to throw in a quick disclaimer as these rules are not absolute. Some big-name UK firms – lastminute.com, for example – have found success while turning their nose up to a .co.uk. But make no mistake, they’re as British as the Last Night of the Proms.
What about the .uk domain?
In 2014, a curveball was thrown into the world of domain names, and it landed firmly in UK territory.
Domain registry Nominet added the .uk suffix to the mix in June of that year, though its introduction didn’t complicate the .com vs .co.uk debate too much.
.uk or .co.uk?
The .uk top-level domain was brought in as an alternative to .co.uk, and is often chosen purely because it can make a web address look punchier. There’s no real difference between the newer .uk domain and the tried-and-tested .co.uk, aside from that.
That said, some businesses go with .co.uk simply because it’s more established and therefore more widely recognised. It’s possible to own both TLDs for an otherwise identical web address, and snapping up the two variations isn’t uncommon.
In fact, it could be a wise decision: I’ll cover that in a mo.
.com vs .co.uk – which should I use for my website?
Choosing between .com or .co.uk for your domain depends on your business goals. For businesses based in the UK and primarily targeting the UK market, a .co.uk or .uk domain is typically recommended. It signals local presence and can be beneficial for local search rankings. On the other hand, if your intention is to expand globally or not be perceived as a UK-specific entity, a .com domain is advisable. It’s globally recognized and can help your brand establish an international image.
That said, there’s a lot to think about when weighing up the choice between a .com or a .co.uk. Picking the wrong top-level domain could seriously harm your company or website’s chances of success, especially if you’re a small business or a start-up.
If you’re based in Britain and only targeting customers and traffic from this side of the Atlantic, a web address ending in .uk can help you build trust with your target audience. Don’t just take our word for it. Research from Nominet has found that 73% of consumers rank .UK domain endings as their first preference when looking to buy online.
The internet’s heaviest hitters are well aware of this. Why do you think US-based Amazon and Microsoft have snapped up .uk domains, in addition to their .com sites?
As well as the strong customer preference for .uk TLDs in this country, choosing one over a .com can save you money. This is because a .com web address is nearly always more expensive than its .co.uk equivalent.
Sure, the cost-saving and trust-building benefits of .uk domain names are well documented, but there are circumstances where .com is absolutely the way to go. If your business is targeting an international customer base, keep in mind that people in other countries might be put off by a .co.uk domain, automatically assuming your firm only does business in Britain.
As we’ve already touched on, having to shell out for a .com instead of a UK-based address can put strain on the old business bank account, but for companies with the potential to reach customers around the globe, this could be seen as a no-brainer investment.
Should I buy a .co.uk AND a .com?
For some businesses this makes a lot of sense. Maybe your plan is to start out trading in the UK, but you’ve got one eye in international expansion in the future. You could use your UK-based domain while you’re establishing yourself, and have the .com lined up for the possibility of overseas trading, assuming the cost of snapping up both is no obstacle.
Moreover, some people choose to claim both domain variations for brand protection purposes. You wouldn’t want to put in the hard work establishing an online presence, only for some pesky copycat to come along and piggyback on your success in another territory.
There’s also a security concern. Internet criminals will be tempted to set up fake versions of your website, with a similar name, just changing the .co.uk to .com, or just .uk. They then might use ‘phishing’ techniques to harvest people’s personal details, or just try to harm your business’ reputation.
What is the difference in cost likely to be?
We’ve already discussed how .coms are usually more expensive than UK domain names, but how much are you actually looking at? Well, a .co.uk can cost anywhere between £9 per £12 per year, and a .com will set you back between £13 and £16, to give ballpark numbers.
While these costs are what you’d call typical, at 20i, there are hefty savings to be made. We offer .co.uk and .uk domain names at £5.99 per year, and .coms at £12.49 per year.
On average, customers save up to £6.63 annually by choosing us, and we also offer reseller discounts.
If you run a business which sells web hosting in bulk, you can get a discount of up to 30% if you buy through us. It’s up to you whether you profit from this or pass the discount on to your own customers. In 2022 we introduced a ‘UK Domain Saver‘ for our Resellers, which compares prices against other companies, and calculates how much you can save.
How to buy and manage your domain name
You can register it through us by heading over to our Domains page. From here you can search for a domain and check out our competition using our comparison table. We offer the same low costs, year on year.
When shopping around for a domain, it’s important to check the fine print for ‘hidden’ charges and add-ons. While some registrars might appear to offer affordable deals, once the overall cost has been totted-up, you might find it isn’t the bargain you were led to believe.
There are no ‘hidden’ costs with 20i, and here’s what we’ll throw in for free:
- Complimentary basic hosting: We’re really proud of the platform we’ve built, so we want to share it with as many people as possible. If you buy a domain from us, we’ll chuck in a free hosting plan with a CDN and no ads.
- Full DNS control: All of your records can be controlled from My20i, from A and CNAME to TXT and SRV. Our nameservers use Google’s reliable global network to provide rapid responses, so you don’t need to worry about speed either.
- 100 free mailboxes: You don’t need to spend any time redirecting your mail to another service provider. If you buy a domain from us, you can receive messages right away as we’ll give you 100 free 10GB mailboxes included in the price.
And that’s not all you’ll get for free. Head over to our website for a full breakdown of everything we bundle in with our low-cost domain registration deals.
Register your domain with 20i today
People often ask us why our domain prices are so low and wonder whether there’s some catch or hidden costs involved. Neither of those assumptions are true.
We’re not trying to make a big profit on domain prices, and we pride ourselves on offering the best deals around. It’s often the case that customers who take us up on these deals are 100% satisfied with the service we provide, and that makes them more likely to consider hosting their websites with us, too.
Unlike most other companies we don’t try to tempt you in with ridiculous first-year prices, then recoup the loss by charging extortionate amounts in subsequent years. We give predictable low pricing, year on year.
To find out more about registering a domain name with 20i, call us on 0333 344 2720 or head over to our domains page. There you’ll find transparent pricing information, a cost comparison table and a handy domain name search tool that you can use for free.
Top photo background by Scott McLeod on Wunderstock.
Just curious why, if Nominets stats are to be believed, did 20i opt for 20i.com not .uk?
Hi Robert – thanks for your question. To quote the article, it’s because 20i is a ‘global company’. While we’re based in the UK, a substantial portion of our business comes from outside the UK, especially since we opened our data centre in the USA.