.io Domain (Meaning,Price,Popularity,Is it Good?,Safety)
You want to build a website for your new startup and you probably try to find a good .com. What you realize is that most of the .com domains are really expensive, so the .io top-level domain stands out as an alternative.
I will try to help you decide if you can consider a .io domain as a good alternative. Before that, I will present to you everything you need to know about .io domains.
What Does .io Mean (+ Brief History)
Typically .io is a country code top-level domain for British Indian Ocean Territory. It is an archipelago of 58 islands and belongs to the United Kingdom. The area is located between East Africa and Indonesia.
Typically there is not even one legal permanent citizen in that place, so from day 1 .io was open to any country. NIC.io is the administrator (registry) for that top-level domain and it belongs to the Internet Computer Bureau. .io was introduced in 1997.
The .io ending is related to some other concepts mainly. The most common one is “input/output or I/O” which is a very recognizable term in computer science.
Here is what we read on computersciencewiki.org for that term:
When you are programming you write and execute instructions. The computer will process your instructions and output the results of those instructions. Most of the time your output will be to a display (like your screen). Sometimes you will output to a file or a network. You can also output to speakers or printers.
In computing, input/output or I/O (or, informally, io or IO) is the communication between an information processing system, such as a computer, and the outside world, possibly a human or another information processing system. Inputs are the signals or data received by the system and outputs are the signals or data sent from it.References
Many popular English words end in -io too so the domain ending can be used as “hack”. Take a look at some popular words that can be used that way: portfolio, scenario, studio, audio, radio, ratio, patio.
-io is also associated with Italy since it means “I” in the Italian language. A lot of people find this language attractive so any word/domain that sounds like that is an advantage.
The above arguments explain the popularity of .io domain.
Where Can I Get .io Domain?
Most of the popular domain name registrars offer the option of getting a .io domain.
|Registrar||.io Registration||.io Renewal|
*Please check also the links for any updates in prices:
Who Uses .io domains?
As you understand technology companies are the ones that choose .io as their domain extension. There is a growing demand for the .io domain from recently funded startups.
I did an extensive survey and I analyzed more than 2000 startups. .io domain was high the most popular option if we exclude .com. You can read the detailed post for that survey Startup Naming Trends
MarkUpgrade survey reaches similar conclusions to mine.MarkUpgrade analyzed 1587 startups to find out more about their domain name choices. It isn’t a surprise that .com was by far the first choice. Despite that expected outcome, .io was the second option for startups. You can find out more for this survey here: Markupgrade survey
In another survey that GrowthBadger did with 1500 people, .io was not high in terms of trust rankings but in terms of memorability was good enough. They compared these top-level domains .com, .net, .org, .co, .biz, .us, .blog, and .io.: You can check the post about this survey here: growthbadger.com/top-level-domains/
Are .io Domains Good?
As you understand, for some use cases the .io domain is a good alternative. Let’s recap the advantages and disadvantages of the domain:
1.) Shorter than .com so the final URL would be shorter too. An example: scenar.io vs scenario.com.
2.) Instant recognition in technology sector due the input/output concept.
3.) Possible clever hacks that are not possible with .com, such as rat.io
4.) More good keyword domains available at better prices compared to .com. * I don’t mean the initial registration but “hot” commercial keyword-based domains: insurance, health, technology, etc
1.) It is not as good as .com for type-in traffic since people probably will add .com instead of .io , if they hear your brand.
2.) For non-tech people the extension .io doesn’t make so sence and it might look a bit spammy.
3.) If there is already a successful .com within the same industry might lose traffic to your competitor.
Here is also a table that shows when .io is a good alternative for .com
|A big brand uses the same .com within the same industry||Yes||No|
|Tech-focus company especially in B2B space||Yes||Yes|
|You will operate mostly as a mobile app||Yes||Yes|
|Your audience is not so tech-savvy||Yes||No|
|You have a decent budget for a domain purchase (+5000$)||Yes||No|
*I add yes to .com for each different case since I believe rarely a .com is a bad option. On the other hand, I add yes to .io too when I see it as a viable option.
Are .IO domains safe?
The great majority of .Io domains are safe and we can consider them even safer than the .com domains. Generally speaking, a domain extension itself can’t make a website safe or unsafe. .Io is not attractive for spammers because of the high initial cost (>20$ per year).
There is a very interesting metric from spamhaus.org that counts how “bad” a specific top-level domain (.com,.net,.io etc) is. The lowest the score the better reputation the domain has. For .io I see a 0.02 score (the worst domain has a 5.63 score!) and it seems only 0.5% of .io domains are considered “bad”.
.com has 0.47 score and 3.8% of the .com are considered “bad”. You can see all the scores here: spamhaus.org/statistics/tlds/. This is how they come up with a “badness” score:
You can think of this number as the bad domains fraction weighted with the TLD’s size, or as the order of magnitude of the problem weighted with the effectiveness of anti-abuse policies.**spamhaus.org
The worst tlds are :
1 .fit Badness Index: 5.43 Domains seen: 8,177
Bad domains: 5,194 (63.5%)
2 .rest Badness Index: 3.92 Domains seen: 2,456
Bad domains: 1,337 (54.4%)
3 .viajes Badness Index: 3.65 Domains seen: 137
Bad domains: 107 (78.1%)
4 .fail Badness Index: 3.05 Domains seen: 393
Bad domains: 222 (56.5%)
5 .tk Badness Index: 3.02 Domains seen: 32,736
Bad domains: 10,669 (32.6%)
6 .webcam Badness Index: 2.99 Domains seen: 121
Bad domains: 82 (67.8%)
7 .email Badness Index: 2.98 Domains seen: 13,181
Bad domains: 4,648 (35.3%)
8 .work Badness Index: 2.72 Domains seen: 67,991
Bad domains: 18,785 (27.6%)
9.cf Badness Index: 2.62 Domains seen: 13,941
Bad domains: 4,364 (31.3%)
10.loan Badness Index: 2.50 Domains seen: 467
Bad domains: 217 (46.5%)
Do .io Domains Rank Well?
Google doesn’t rank websites based on their domain extension but mostly based on their content and other factors. One exception is when we talk about pure country code top-level domains such as .fr or .de. In that case, a .fr domain would have a tiny advantage over other extensions for France-based online visitors.
Google has stated that treats all the extensions the same even back in 2015 when a lot of new TLDs appeared in the market: webmasters.googleblog.com
Google adds .io domain under Generic Country Code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs).
Here is what they state on their site:
Generic Country Code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs): Google treats some ccTLDs (such as .tv, .me, etc.) as gTLDs, as we’ve found that users and webmasters frequently see these more generic than country-targeted. Here is a list of those ccTLDs (this list may change).support.google.com
Here is the list with all the ccTLDS that includes .io too:
Why Is .io So Expensive?
As it happens with some .com domains, the most viable commercial keywords for .io domain cost significantly more. The downside for the .io domain is that it costs more for available domains compared with .com. New registration would be more than 25$ compared to .com that is usually around $8 – $14.
That might happens since .io is not so regulated and the registry (the wholesaler or administrator) probably takes a big fee compared to the final price. This is just an assumption since I couldn’t find how much NIC.io charges per domain registration.
A registry is a database that contains registrant information (name, address, phone, etc) for the second-level domains (google.com, example.com) beneath a given top-level domain (.com). A registry operator is an organization that maintains the administrative data for one or more top-level or lower-level domains. For example, VeriSign is responsible for several top-level domains, including the .com, .net, and .name domains. A registry operator is given authority for a domain through ICANN.support.google.com
Registries like Nic.io don’t have the same revenue such as the .com industry so they need to keep prices higher. There are around 580 thousand .io domain registrations. On the other hand, there are more than 190 million .com registrations.
For example the .com Registry (Verisign) charges around $8 per .com domain registration.
You can see here some of the best sales of .io domains so you can better understand their value.
Answering the same question in youtube too.
Is .io Domain The New .com
.io domain can’t be the new .com because it applies mostly to tech-savvy companies. The average internet user doesn’t even know the existence of the .io domain. The .com has a generic appeal and can be used by any company or individual globally.
A coffee place, a restaurant, a law firm and most of the everyday businesses will avoid to use an .io domain. They will probably use a .com instead or the country-code top level domain (.de, .fr., .ca etc).
Another obstacle to the wide usage of .io domains is the price. Even for an available .io domain, you need to pay more than 20$ per year. For an available .com you can find companies that offer them for 1$ (for the first year) and around 12$-19$ for the rest years.
The history has also shown that it seems almost impossible for some extension to overcome .com in foreseeable future. From 2013 more than 1500 domain extensions were released. So many years later and the .com domain is still the 1st preference by far. The value of premium .com domains is rising too year over year.
The registered .com domains are 5 times more than the second tld (.cn / source domainnamestat.com). At the same time, the same keyword domains in .com have a 3x-10x higher value than the rest ones. For example, insurance.com was sold for 100,000$ back in 2009 and insurance.io was sold for 22,500$ in 2020 (source:namebio.com).
.io vs .ai
There are more than 550,000 registered .io domains but only around 60,000 .ai registered domains. The average price for an available .io domain is 28$-40$ but for .ai is double around 50$-70$. .io indicates a broader technology concept but .ai indicates the usage of artificial intelligence.
In some way, those 2 domain extensions are very similar despite their previous differences. Typically they are both country code top-level domains. What I mean by that is they serve a particular area like .uk or .fr does. .io is for British Indian Ocean Territory and .ai for Anguilla.
Both places (British Indian Ocean Territory + Anguilla) are tied related to Uk and they have a few thousand permanent citizens or no permanent citizens! .io and .ai would be a failure if they were relying only on the demand from such a small area.
Both extensions are very hyped in the startup community. Usually, the startup ecosystem tries to innovate and embrace new ideas. So, many startups are open to using an alternative domain extension.
In domain aftermarket, both extensions have more than 3000 sales per year. Although .io is open to the worldwide registrations longer than .ai ( .io in 1997 vs .ai in 2009!) the .ai has biggest sales in terms of price. expert.ai was sold for 107,495$ in 2020-06-23, music.ai was sold for 101,500$ in 2018-01-14, swipe.io was sold for 68,000$ in 2019-06-10 and lucky.io was sold for 67,000$ in 2018-09-28.
Successful .io Domains
As we already mentioned, technology companies seem to be the ones that use mostly .io domains. Here are some examples of them:
I hope that the post helped you to make a decision for the domain extension you will choose. You might find interesting my other post for the .co domain too. Click here to read everything you need to know about the .co domain. If you find the post useful, don’t forget to share it on social media.