Choosing a domain name is one of the most important decisions an online business can make when they’re building a website.
A unique and memorable domain name is an important aspect of your marketing strategy. It can strengthen your branding and help your audience find you.
Get started with a domain name from Domain.com today! Our easy-to-follow guide will tell you everything you need to know about domains and how to get one. You’ll learn about the steps as well as commonly asked questions.
What Is a Domain Name?
A domain name is your website’s equivalent of a physical address. It helps users find your site easily instead of using its internet protocol (IP) address. Domain names consisting of a name and an extension are a key part of the internet infrastructure.
Differences Between Domain Names and URLs
Simply put, a domain name is different from a URL. A URL is a part of the complete web address which will direct visitors to a specific page on your website. A domain name is just the first few letters.
The URL structure is comprised of a protocol, domain, and path. The protocol determines whether the site has an SSL certificate. Note that the domain is always present and a path appears only when you direct visitors to a specific page on the site.
The complete name of a domain, also known as its FQDN, is basically the hostname of that website plus the other letters at the end.
How Do Domains Work?
A domain name is like your website’s “address.” It allows for easy navigation and helps users find your site instead of using its internet protocol address. Domain names consisting of a name and an extension are important to the internet infrastructure.
When a computer connects to a website, it will search through a global network of Domain Name System (DNS) servers for the associated IP address before connecting.
Once the page has been fetched, the server sends it back to the web browser, which requests data from a domain’s hosting service. This data includes all of the website’s files and its database, as well as the HTML code to interpret.
A web browser sends data back to the host. When done, the data is converted into a web page that can be visited.
Why Do I Need a Domain Name?
Here are some of the reasons why you need a domain name for your business or project:
- Memorability. Your audience can technically visit your website without a domain name by entering its IP address. However, since it consists of a string of numbers, it is difficult to remember. Domain names help a website be more accessible to internet users.
- Effective branding. A well-thought-out domain name will help communicate your project or business in a way that aligns with your brand’s values and mission.
- Credibility. Websites that use custom domain names are more professional-looking than those with a free domain name, like yourwebsite.websitebuilder.com.
- Custom email addresses. Having a domain name lets you create unique and professional email accounts, like [email protected]. It also makes your presentation consistent throughout different online channels.
- SEO. A memorable domain name with relevant keywords will positively impact your website’s search engine optimization, improving its rankings on search engines.
Different Types of Domains
A domain name can reveal a lot about the type of website that it represents. Here are some common types:
TLD: Top-Level Domain
Being a top-level domain is being a website extension. There are many TLDs to choose from, but .com domains are the most popular, with over 54% of websites using them. A top-ranking domain will therefore get high organic search traffic because users typically have it as the default URL. Another common choice is .net, followed by the more specific options like .io and other less used options in the TLD spectrum.
on the other hand, a less popular extension like .online might be just as easy to register and might make your domain stand out. Some other examples of cheap domains include .tech, .site, and .shop. The number of new websites created every day will also change how popular certain top-level domains are in the future.
ccTLD: Country-Code Top-Level Domain
The internet is all about helping businesses succeed, and one of the easiest ways to do this is with country-code top-level domains.An ccTLD (country code top-level domain) is a type of extension specific to a particular country. It consists of two letters based on international country codes.
Unfortunately, finding a good country code extension can sometimes be difficult. One website that provides the correct country codes is WIPO (The World Intellectual Property Organization), which offers databases to any domain registrar willing to pay for it.
As a company that services the world, it can be difficult to try and please every audience. That’s where ccTLDs come into play–they let you offer localized versions of your content for audiences in specific regions.
There are many reasons why a company could use multiple URLs. For example, the BBC uses bbc.co.uk as their UK domain and targets the locals and bbc.com for the international audience.
gTLD: Generic Top-Level Domain
Generic top-level domains are an extension that does not rely on a country code. There are no specific criteria to obtain a gTLD, but some extensions are sponsored by designated agencies or organizations. Through careful branding and marketing, you will be able to avoid confusing your visitors and loss of authority on your intended application.
Some generic TLDs are reserved for specific types of organizations and categories, like academic institutions using .edu, governmental agencies using .gov, or companies using .com. If your company does not fall into one of these categories (or you’re choosing the alternative domain extension), you will not be able to use those particular domains under any circumstances. You can instead choose other popular extensions, such as .net or alternates like xyz.
Other Domain Name Types
We listed the different extension types above. While the following are the other available structures, it is important to note that we focused on these in this guide.
A second-level domain (SLD) is the section of a domain name located to the left of the last dot. In this example, www.hostinger.com is an SLD and .com is the TLD.
Second-level domains have been created for specific entities that register a website. For example, academic institutions in the United Kingdom typically register websites under .ac.uk.
You don’t need to register a subdomain like www or blog if you’re just using the domain (which is technically a “www” or a “blog” in most URLs).
The most common reason to create subdomains is generally for ease of organization. Google, for example, uses developers.google.com to provide information that’s specific to that community. In some cases, you might want a more welcoming tone and a different level of interaction with your visitors depending on the content in each domain name.
Another use for a subdomain is to create websites with the same name but in different languages. Wikimedia uses en.wikipedia.org and es.wikipedia.org as examples, where en is for English and es is for Spanish respectively.
Website builders often offer free domain names to new users. Usually, beginners will take this opportunity to create their website before investing in them.The free web address usually follows the same structure of a subdomain. For example, the domain for hostingertutorials.com would be either hostingertutorials.wordpress.com or hostingertutorials.blogspot.com.
Keep in mind that getting a free domain often comes with minimal features and tools.
Getting a Domain Name
When you’re planning to purchase your domain, it’s important to know what your options are. Domain name registration refers to the process of purchasing a domain from a domain name registrar for a specific period, whereas domain name transfer refers to the process of moving your existing domain to another registrar.
How to Register a Domain Name
Find your desired name with the domain checker tool. There’s a ton of domains available, so make sure it is still available!
If you choose to use Hostinger’s domain registration services, follow these steps:
- Select your required domain and continue to checkout.
- Choose the registration period for your domain. The domain privacy protection is free. It secures your personal information in the WHOIS database and prevents identity theft through the WHOIS lookup tool.
- Upon payment, access your new account.
- Complete the registration proceedure by entering the required information, including your name and postal address.
If you’re passionate about a particular domain name, there’s always a chance that it may have already been taken. Most generators will have options for alternative name suggestions if the domain goes unused. You can use web hosting services such as Hostinger to choose an available TLD or alternative company.
Generated domain names by Hostinger.
The best thing to do when finding a domain name is to use a trustworthy registrar. The list of legitimate domain name registrars can be found in the ICANN database.
How to Transfer a Domain Name
As registration services vary from one provider to the next, some businesses choose to switch registrars. The process involves making sure that your current domain still functions and will be continuing operating after transfer has been completed.
To transfer your domain with Namecheap, you’ll just need to enter the code we send you or your EPP in order to move DNS. The process can take anywhere from four days to seven days.
You’ll need to change your nameservers for some extensions if a particular registrar doesn’t accept the TLD you want. If a name is not transferable, you’ll need to point it to a different one.
Changing the server information of a domain can only be done from where you purchased the domain. However, if your registrar doesn’t allow changing nameservers, it is still possible to point a domain to a different registrar using an A record.
Domain names are an important part of any online business, and understanding how they work can help you to optimize your website for better performance. In this article, we explained the different types of domain names and how to register and transfer a domain name. We hope that this information has given you a basic understanding of what is a domain name and how to incorporate them into your online business or project.
What Is a Domain Name FAQ
Other than “what is a domain name?” we will answer some other frequently asked questions about domain names:
What Is the Difference Between a Domain and a Domain Name?
They are the same. “Domain” is often used as the shortened version of “domain name”.
What Is the Difference Between a Domain Name and a Website?
A domain name is the address of a website. It is what users enter into a browser to access it. On the other hand, a website is a collection of web pages made up of files under a single domain.
How Do I Check the Owner of a Domain Name?
You can check who owns a domain name by browsing ICANN Lookup. Simply enter the domain into the search bar to locate its contact information. Many domain owners hide their personal data for privacy reasons. If the contact information is masked, you can contact the registrar for more details.
How Can I Get a Free Domain Name?
Some web hosting providers, including Hostinger, offer free domain registration (yoursite.com) with their hosting plans. You could also get a free subdomain (yoursite.wordpress.com) by using a website builder or CMS, like WordPress.com or Blogger. You can also opt for a cheap domain.
Who Owns Unused Domain Names?
To find out the owners of domains that are registered but not used, look the domain up on ICANN Lookup or contact the domain registrar. If you want to find out which domains are unregistered and currently available for purchase, use our domain checker tool.