What are .io domains?

What are .io domains?

With the advent of crypto domains, there is an ever growing list of options to choose from when selecting the best domain extension. You can now choose from traditional domains, as well as crypto domains and we are going to explore one of the traditional types that has managed to stay relevant.

Of the alternative options to .com, .io is currently at the top of the list for many tech companies, and has produced more five and six figure sales than almost all other non .com options.

Including these sales in the past 6 months (source Namebio.com)

assistant.io – 50,000 USD

mountain.io – 90,000 USD 

seal.io – 60,000 USD

mode.io50,000 USD

formula.io – 88,888 USD

recognize.io – 35,000 USD

cap.io55,000 USD

mint.io  – 230,000 USD

factory.io88,888 USD


Let’s start with a recap of what a Top Level Domain (TLD) is

The domain name system (DNS) is the process by which a website IP address, a series of numbers is connected with a website name. A helpful way to think of this is like the internets phone book. Multiple parts make up the website domain name and we are going to focus on what is referred to as the top-level domain.

This is ending of the domain after the chosen name or phrase. For example, the TLD of www.google.com is .com and this would be known as a gTLD.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is a non-profit organisation that allocates these TLDs and at the time of writing there are over 1000 available to choose from.

To add to the confusion, TLDs are broken down into two main types:

  • – Generic top-level domains (gTLDs) were the original type and these include the most common .com and .org TLDs. They also include the more modern specific extensions such as .blog and .tech, designed to focus on a specific industry or topic
  • – Country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) are the other type and as the name suggests, these are domain extensions allocated to a country. For example .co.uk would be for the UK and .ca would be for Canada.

It is important to note here that with the development of blockchain technology and crypto domains, there is now a third type of domain extension and more detail can be found in this helpful article.


What is an .io domain and why is it becoming so popular?

Now that we have gone through a recap of what a domain extension is, let’s dive into a bit of detail about the history of the .io domain.

The .io domain extension is actually a ccTLD, assigned to the British Indian Ocean Territory. Introduced in 1997, this idea that it was meant to be a ccTLD is a bit of a misconception, primarily because there are not really any residents there. In light of it being used as a military location, there wasn’t a particular need for such a domain to be established.

Interesting fact: one of the very first .io domains to be registered was by Levi’s in 1998

So now that we understand its origins, let’s look at what it has become synonymous for. In general, it has been linked to the world of tech and data as the abbreviation IO or I/O standards for input/output. As a result, it is a popular extension for those working in tech.

We go into some more detail about this below as we discover why it has become so popular.


Why is the .io domain popular?

There are three fundamental reasons why this domain extension has become so popular, with one briefly explained above. To understand the opportunities such a domain represents to both individuals and businesses, we have summarised these opportunities below.

The link to computing means that those in the IT industry will instantly recognise the abbreviation IO, leading them to have an understanding of the type of website they will be visiting.

As a domain hack it offers some fun and flexibility as there are plenty of brands and terms that end in io. For example, radio.com may be taken but you could have got the web address rad.io. This has meant an increased pool of potential domains.

An easy option because it is easy to spell and pronounce. For those wanting a memorable, minimal domain name then it is a great choice because you could choose a domain name that is as small as 4 characters total.


So what are the benefits of choosing an .io domain?

We’ve established what the .io domain is and why it is so popular. Now it is important to assess both the pros and cons of selecting such a domain for your project. Those listed below are very much subjective and depend on your individual requirements but provide a fantastic summary of the value gained from choosing such a domain extension.


The simple fact is that the more traditional domain extensions have been around a very long time and as such, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to get that perfect domain for your business. It is highly likely that if you search for your preferred domain name ending in .com that it will be taken.

However, extensions like .io have a lot more availability despite the growing connection with tech companies and it offers a greater chance to get your chosen domain.

Google treats it as a gTLD

Despite .io being a ccTLD, Google actually treats it as a gTLD. This may not sound too relevant or concerning but what it means is that you won’t have to deal with the geo-locating implications of traditional ccTLDs. For those concerned about SEO, this means that you won’t be penalised in any way for going for this domain extension.

Recognisable and easy to spell

We all love the easiest, most efficient way to access information and by creating a domain or brand that uses the .io domain extension then you’re off to a great start. Firstly, it helps create a shorter URL which is easier to spell and share on various platforms.

Secondly, it is becoming increasingly linked to tech communities and this means it helps people to instantly recognise your name and brand, knowing it is connected to tech and therefore more relevant to them.


Are there any disadvantages to choosing an .io domain?

Whilst there are some fantastic benefits to selecting this type of domain, it is important to be aware of a few pitfalls for those searching for a new domain.

Tech focused

The primary advantage of a .io domain can also be one of its main disadvantages. Given it is directly linked to the tech community, if you go for this domain then people will have a preconception about the kind of business or brand you own. This may not be a big issue as you will likely rely on SEO to drive the right type of traffic to your website but it is important to think about.


It very much depends on your chosen domain but in general, .io domains can cost more than other gTLDs and ccTLDs. Whilst it won’t be a dramatic increase, it does need to be built into your budget for future monthly/yearly payments.

Whilst there are some premium domains that cost a lot, in reality this isn’t a major issue for most people searching for a domain but do some research on domain registrar websites to compare available domains.

Brand issues

Having a domain ending in .io may be great for readability, hinting at your tech orientated business etc but it may impact your brand. Firstly, it may cause people to read your domain as one term and not recognise the brand.

Secondly, it may cause your domain to look like another brand out there on the market and this isn’t a great choice if you want to build up your own customer base.


So what have we learnt about .io domains?

We live in an exciting time of technological developments, expanding opportunities and greater choice when it comes to website domains. Playing an important role within this journey is the .io domain thanks to its relationship with the tech community.

Now that you have a better understand of what .io domains are, you should be well placed to decide if it suits your project or business. If you’re a domain trader or investor then they certainly should be on your list to investigate, because if you can find a domain linked to some exciting new project or technology you may be able to get it at a lower price and sell it for more in the future.

Ultimately, do your research and explore what domains are available. If it maps to your brand, connects with customers and is cost-effective then get trading. Explore the Cloudname platform for those .io domain investment opportunities today!

Cloudname is the innovative platform for online domain trading. Discover the world of cloudname and everything you didn’t know about domain trading.

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How does it work?

On 28/01/2023 a whitelist of eligible wallets will be published (any wallet holding $CNAME since before 27/01/2023 – NOTE: the tokens needs to be in a WALLET and not for example in an exchange)

Whitelisted users will be able to Redeem $CNAME directly on the Cloudname website.
The application page will allow users to connect their wallet and choose how many $CNAME to redeem.

Once the $CNAME are sent, users will immediately receive an email with a Freename promo code. Every promo code will be $100 max, and is not cumulative  (e.g. if you redeem $1,000 in $CNAME, you will receive 10x $100 promo-codes)

Happy Web3 TLDs and Domains Shopping!