Do you want to know about domain names and how they work? In this beginner’s guide, we will explain what a domain name is and how domains work.
What are domain names?
Domain names are addresses for websites that people can type into their browsers in the URL bar section. Basically, domain names allow individuals using an internet browser to access and visit your website. One of the easiest or simplest ways to think about it is this: If you think of websites as houses, then domain names can be thought of as addresses.
To take it a step further, and think of it more in detail, the internet can be considered a huge computer network that is all connected via a global cable network. Each individual computer is able to communicate on this network with all of the other computers that are also participating in the network. In order to identify each computer, they are assigned IP addresses, which are a series of numbers used to identify particular computers on the internet.
Before, IP addresses needed to be used in order to visit websites. This was incredibly difficult and a hassle for just about every single person using the internet. Now, this whole process has been made simpler by allowing people to use domain names to access any and all websites.
Rather than needing to memorize and type in a long string of random numbers, or an IP address, to access a website, you can type easily remembered domain names in the address bar. And voila! You have access to your favorite websites!
How do domain names really work?
If you are looking to truly understand how domain names really work, then you will need to understand what happens whenever you type a domain name into your browser’s address bar. The process is as follows:
- You type in the website’s domain name in the address bar.
- The domain name is sent as a request to the global servers network that forms the Domain Name System (DNS). Multiple DNS servers are utilized until the appropriate domain name is found in the DNS in the cache. Other DNS servers that did not have the domain name in its cache, once they communicate with these other DNS servers, can cache and store more domain names as well now that they have had the requests or access.
- The hosting company that manages the computers that has the name servers that you are requesting to visit the domain name from will forward the request you sent to the computer where the website itself is stored.
- Special software on the computer that is serving as a web server allows the web server to now fetch the web page as well as the information pieces that are associated with it.
- Now, you can finally have the data that was found sent back to your web browser, allowing you to fully access and utilize this domain.
Are domain names and websites the same thing?
The quick answer is no. However, they go hand in hand. Websites are made up of files such as HTML pages, images, website builder software, and so much more. Domain names are again like the addresses or in this case web addresses of your websites. More so, web hosting can be seen as the house or home in which your website lives. Servers are computers that actually store your website’s files and these servers are offered as services by various hosting companies.
In order to create a website, you will need both a domain name as well as web hosting. Although, it is very important to remember and note that these two are separate services. Thus, you can buy or purchase them from two different companies as well. All you need to do, if you are using two different companies, is edit your domain name settings and then enter the name server information that is provided by the hosting company that you are using. It will likely be much easier to have both the web hosting and the domain name from one company because it will allow you to manage it all easier and under one account. However, it is not necessary to do so.
How do you choose your website’s domain name?
It is so incredible to know that there are over 350 million registered domain names out there, and there are more domain names being registered each and every day. This puts it all in perspective, reminding us that the good domain names are probably already registered, making you feel more stress and pressure to develop a catchy, good domain name for your company’s website for example.
In order to help you create a creative, catchy domain name for your website, you can utilize various tools and resources. For instance, there are free AI-powered business name generators or generator tools that can help you come up with cool new names. Simultaneously, these AI-powered generators can also check the domain name availability status in order to save you time.
When making your own or choosing website domain names, it is important to know a few things. First, it is important to know that “.com” is the most common, popular, easy to promote, and easy to remember ending for domain names. Second, you should make sure that the domain name is relatively short and very easy to remember so users can easily search and access it. Third, you need to ensure that it is easy to both spell and pronounce, again for user convenience. Lastly, you should not use any hyphens or numbers in your domain names. Ultimately, if you are struggling to find domain names, again, there are many apps and services that you can use to help you make one.
Keep it simple to spell
One of the biggest mistakes that a business can make when choosing their domain name is to pick one that does not make phonetic sense. You want your business to expand and one of the best ways for it to do that is by word of mouth. If potential customers cannot understand how to say or spell your domain, you will lose business.
Make sure that your domain is special enough to be memorable. Keep it catchy and unique enough that customers will remember it easily. This will also keep you away from legal troubles that can occur if your website is too close to another brand’s domain.
Stick with .com
While there may be a whole list of potential domain name extensions, .com is the tried and true staple of business. Other domain extensions can even be untrustworthy or seem unprofessional.
Short domains are good domains
Short domain names are much better than longer ones. They are simpler to remember and enter. Your domain name should reflect your business in the fewest characters possible.
Stay away from double letters
Typos will always happen, but you can cut down on their frequency by keeping double letters out of your domain. Double letters can be difficult to read, especially for older people. If you can increase business simply by not having double letters in your domain, there is no reason to use them.
Just like double letters, hyphens are very prone to create typos. Hyphens are also commonly found in domains of spam websites, which you do not want to be associated with your business in any way.
Web hosting offers free domain registration
Depending on what web host you use, you may be able to register your domain for free! Websites such as Bluehost and HostGator offer affordable website hosting combined with domain registrations (also notice how both HostGator and Bluehost follow these tips with their domain names!).
Use key words in your domain name
Search engines will be more likely to direct users towards your website if you are able to put a keyword or two in the domain name itself. This may be difficult, as domain names that utilize common keywords are often snapped up quickly. But if you can land one, go for it!
Give yourself the chance to expand
Your website may have many pages on it, but your domain name should be universal enough that you can build off of it. For example, if you run a sports equipment website, registering a domain like tennisrackets.com is not the best idea if you intend to expand your inventory to include baseball bats, hockey gear, or any other sports equipment.
Try a domain name generator
If you are having difficulty creating your own domain name, there are plenty of services online that can help you generate one. You can find these services with a simple search. Domain generators like Nameboy have been around for a very long time, with established reputations.
Do some research
When you are picking your domain name, you should always check to see if someone else has already snatched it up. You can look on Google to see if the domain is already claimed, or you can do a trademark search. You may also want to look to see if the domain you are considering may have previously belonged to another company. If it has, you should check their reputation to see if you may potentially be associated with something negative.
If your domain is too close to another company, you may have to deal with legal issues or brand confusion. Always trademark and copyright your website’s name and logo as soon as possible.
Popular domain registrars
You may have a great idea for a domain, but do not want to purchase the hosting service for your website just yet. In this case, you can register your domain to keep it from being stolen by someone else. Domain registrars are fairly common online and they often have coupon codes that you can enter for a sizable discount.
DomainRooster is the largest domain registrar. They clock over 63 million domain names currently. They also offer hosting services for when you choose to host your website on your chosen domain.
You can also check out Domain.com for a similar service. They offer search tools, domain registration, and other website support at a bargain price.
Best place to register domain names
With the variety of domain registrars available, it can be difficult to pick which one works best for you. It’s always a good idea to shop around and see what different registrars have to offer before you commit. Domain registration is not too expensive in most cases (usually between $9 and $24), but it is always good to save money. Also take a look at the other services that these domain registrars offer.
Domain names are constantly being registered. Thousands of domains are created every day, and this number most likely will not go down anytime soon. Domain names are comparable to real estate and people are always looking for good domain names that are brandable and useful.
If you take your time deciding on a domain name, you run the risk of someone else snapping it up. Domain registration is not too expensive, so it is recommended to just buy the domains you are considering, and just wait for the ones you don’t want to expire.
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