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Why are io domains expensive? Are they worth it?

everything you need to know about io domains

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In modern business, having a website is one of the most important building blocks you need to have at the very foundations of your business. Whether that business is a service, a product manufacturer, a retail business, or whatever it may be, if it wants to be successful, it needs to have a website, and to have a website, you have 0ot have a domain name.

Building a website can be a nightmare to organize. You either need to know how to code or at least hire someone or a team that knows how to code, or alternatively, you could use a subscription-based service that takes care of it for you.

Even if you have all of that figured out, one of the vital things the website-building service or freelancer will want to know is what domain you are using.

So you start researching to find out that .coms are becoming rare and the new hot domain to have is a .io domain, and then you see what they cost…

What is a .io domain? Why are they so popular? Why are they so expensive? Should you use them? What are the advantages of using a .io domain, and what are the catchest of them? All of this and more is what we aim to cover today.

Let this article be your one-stop shop[ to learn all you need to know about .io domains before you start crafting that top-tier website.

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What does .io mean?

The direct answer to this question is simple. The .io domain are top-level domains that stand for input-output, which is a common phrase in the computer science world. This is why it is such a popular domain in the tech industry, but more on that later.

More interestingly, the .io domain started life as a country country-code top-level domain name for the British Indian Ocean Territory of the Chagos Archipelago.

However, as stated before, thanks to the io also meaning input-output in computer science, it has more recently become a generic domain for tech companies, but let’s take a deeper look at why and what it means for them.

What does .io mean for tech startups?

The first thing we need to learn or remember is that every domain serves a particular purpose, from .com to .org or .net, and .io is no different.

We already touched on why tech startups love the .io domain, as it symbolizes the input-output terminology that is commonly used in SaaS or other tech startup institutions.

However, another common reason why startups would prefer to use a .io domain is that their subdomains or second-level domains may not be available in the .com, .net, .org, or other registries.

Not to mention that io domain names stand out from the crowd of .com or .co domains, making it easier to gain brand recognition.


What does .io mean for established tech companies?

Established tech companies also like to associate with the input-output reference. However, video games have a second layer of association with the phrase.

In the video games and computer world, there are online, browser-based games that are predominantly multiplier with minimalist graphics that are strongly associated with the .io domain.

When should you use a .io domain?

So far, you may be under the impression that .io domains are only used by tech companies and that if you want to use a .io domain, you have to have a tech company. However, that is not true. Domains are a great way to stamp some individualistic creativity on your URL in what we call domain hacks.

A great example of a fantastic domain hack is Link Tree’s URL that is, or to bring it back to .io domains. We can look at US Senator Marco Rubio’s website,, which he successfully deployed during his presidential campaign in 2020

So you would want to use io when your brand’s suffix ends in io or if there is a personal link that can be highlighted by your domain name. Your domain does also not need to reside within  British Indian Ocean Territory as it would if you were using a domain despite the domain initially being a country code for that region.

Search engines see the .io domain as a generic domain allowing you to use it from anywhere on the planet. If you are still struggling to envision a way to incorporate a .io domain into your company or personal domain.

Then maybe you can draw inspiration from Italian and Esperanto speakers who use the .io domain to create geographically relevant or keyword-friendly domains, such as Libera Folio’s website, which uses the domain to lead back to the main website in the Esperanto langue.

Why do .io domains cost so much?

If you have looked into io extensions at all, you would have noticed that they are not the most affordable domains on the market. The reasons behind the high costs of .io domains seem to be twofold.

Most domain experts palace the reason for the high prices at the feet of the Internet Computer Bureau, which regulate the fees of domains. Others say it has to do with the increasing rarity of domain names. 

Let’s take a look at what the key points are so that you can understand the complexities of the domain pricing system, especially around .io domains.


High registration fees and high demand

The “Internet Computer Bureau” hold the rights to sell domains. Along with other rights, it also bestows the right to the registry to determine the fees for transactions that are linked to the particular domain in question.

Even though we can not know the exact fees that the “Internet Computer Bureau” take, it is apparent that they charge an above-standard fee for the .io domain extension. As if you shop around at Namecheap, Godaddy, and other domain marketplace sites, the one through thread is that .io domains are expensive on each of them.

It is worth noting that the high prices can be due to higher demand as well, but there is some compelling evidence that it is not the only factor at play and that ICB is indeed charging high fees for transactions. 

One of the most damning pieces of circumstantial evidence is that the ICB also holds the rights to other generic top-level domains such as .sh and .ac.

These domains are nowhere nearly as popular as the .io extension, yet on sites such as GoDaddy, .ac and .sh domains are sold at similarly high prices, which would leave one to believe that the transaction fees are relatively high. 


The second piece of evidence that it is the fess and not demand can be extracted from the fact that .com domains are not more expensive than .io domains. As of the 17th of October 2022, .com domains are 52% of all active domains, and .io domain extensions do not even crack the top 10 used list.

This would suggest that the rights holder of the .com domain extension, which is “Verisign,” charge lower fees for transactions than the “Internet Computer Bureau” do, despite being in far greater demand than the io. domain.

On the other hand, high demand or growing demand isn’t the worst argument in the world. Even though .io domains may be less popular than .com domains, this does not mean that companies are not willing to pay more for the unique .io extension justifying the higher price points. 

There is something to be said about customers being willing to pay more for .io domains, as Godaddy only offers a 1-year subscription on these domains in comparison to the 2-year subscription of a .com domain. This strategy allows them to extract higher revenue or apply a more flexible pricing strategy if the trend continues to grow.

Good domains are becoming increasingly rare

A smaller factor that we briefly touched on in the previous point is that the more popular domains are ruining out of good, and usually domain names. 

Why IO domains are becoming more popular

All 2 letter .com domains have been registered since the year 2000; this means all domains up to 5 letters have become increasingly expensive as their availability has also started to dwindle. This has led companies to start looking for more creative domain extensions such as .io, and as we have pointed out above, this has caused them to become rather expensive domain extensions. 

Short domains from 2-5 letters are highly sought after as they are easy to remember and quick to type out, making them almost invaluable as marketing tools and powerful brand awareness tool.

Pros and Cons of .io domain

Nothing in this world is purely good or purely bad. Everything has some form of a balance between the two. Domains are no different. Each of them has strengths and weaknesses, so let’s go over what those are for the .io domain extension.

Pros of .io domains

  • Allows for truly creative and unique URLs and names, which in turn boosts brand identity.
  • The .io domain extension has loads of available domain names.
  • Gives immediate tech affiliation for new startups and tech companies.
  • .io domains offer amazing search engine recognition.
  • Perfect for domain hacks.
  • It is shorter than other popular domain extensions such as .com or .org.

Cons of .io domains

  • .io domain extensions are less accessible for those not into It or tech.
  • They are comparatively expensive, especially when compared to other popular options.
  • .io domains can be harder to remember.


The five best alternatives to .io domains to use for tech-based companies

So maybe you are excited by all of the alternative opportunities a .io domain can offer you, but the expensive pricing puts you off. Well then, we have got a section just for you!

Here we will go over some exciting up-and-coming domain extensions or tried and true golden oldies that will have your back in the search engine crawls and battles for space in the general populace’s brain space.

To keep things as easy as possible and also cater to businesses outside of the tech world, we have to split them into tech-based domain extensions and other domains so you can choose which speaks to you the most or fits your business the best.


This one is a little self-explanatory, but if you are looking for a no-nonsense and to-the-point domain that will tell your customers exactly what your company is about, then this is the domain extension for your business.

A .tech domain extension also offers a wide variety of available short domain names that have yet to be claimed, which can be a godsend if you have been shopping domain names for a while and just can’t get your business, blog, or projects name available in the extension you wanted.

Furthermore, you are in esteemed company in the .tech extension, as other URls that use it are organisations such as CES and Intel’s insight project, which gives your brand a sense of trustability without any investment in marketing from you.


This is a great domain extension, especially if the word software is in your company’s name. It can greatly shorten your URL length, which can drastically improve your URL’s memorability score.

The .software extension is limited in how you can use it, but it does also mean that domain name availability is above average on this domain extension.

As we discussed in the previous domain extension, domain name availability is super scarce in the more popular options, so using a non-traditional extension such as .software could b the perfect domain for you and just what you are actually looking for. 


Cloud services have become extremely popular in recent times, from the general purpose cloud storage options such as Google Drive, One Drive, and DropBox to the bleeding edge of cloud technology such as Micorosft’s X Cloud that offers gamers the opportunity to play nearly any game from almost any device practically anywhere on the planet as long as they have a stable internet connection.

How do you compete with these tech giants? Well, you can stand out by adopting .cloud straight into your URL! Not only does it help you stand out from the fast-growing population of cloud services it is also currently super affordable!



This domain extension, if applied creatively, can extend outside of the tech industry. However, it would shine best as either a physical networking company that installs or sells IT networks or a social media domain that specializes in social or professional networking. 

Back to a more creative application of implementing a .network domain could be if you host conferences or other meeting scenarios and you would like to advertise your location as a networking hotspot, you could use the .network domain extension.


. digital domains have a wider application base. These are perfect for if you offer digital solutions in business, such as SaaS, or perhaps you specialize in digital tech, such as cameras and audio equipment. 

Alternatively, digital artists or graphic designers may find a .digital domain perfect for their digital portfolios as it is also one of the more affordable extensions on the market, not to even mention the domain names that should still be easily available.  

The five best alternatives to .io domains to use for general use

So, maybe you aren’t in the tech business, but you still want a killer URL or domain for potential clients to reach out to or read what you or your business is about. Perhaps you want a simple storefront for customers to visit or create a hub that supports all your different projects. 

Whatever your reason is, these five domains have proven to be reliable and create a trustworthy and, more importantly, searchable domain name and brand recognition.


.org is the third most used domain extension according to Ionos and creates an immediate impression that clients are dealing with a professional and larger organization. Using .org can coat your business in some instant professional gloss.

A .org domain is also great for nonprofit outfits as this is usually what .org is associated with charities and nonprofits such as the salvation army website. You may have a hard time getting the exact domain name you want with .org being as popular as it is.

However, it does only account for 4.5% of all domains, as per the previously cited Ionos article, so you probably will get the domain you want.


If you are not a non-profit or the .org domain you wanted was taken, then the fourth most used domain extension may be a little more suited for you.

The .net domains are a little more expensive than the others on this list, but they do offer instant recognition and a level of trustworthiness only .org and .com have to offer like other domains. The .net domains also offer massive flexibility as it is not directly connected to any particular industry.



.co domains are the perfect domain for localized businesses. If you know, you can only operate within a given area or country. Then a .co domain name is perfect for your company. They are usually rather inexpensive as well. However, in recent times they have picked up in price.


A .info domain is perfect for an info page, email alert system or portfolio. If you want a URL that tells your potential clients or followers exactly what the page is for, then a .info domain extension is perfect for an about me, about our company, or about us webpage.


As we started with a rather self-explanatory suggestion, we should also end on one. A .biz short domain extension is perfect for large and small businesses. The only real downside is that they can be a little pricey.

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