What is a Domain Name ?

By

Cosmo

|

Aug 24 - 2014

StarterGuide:

What is a domain name ?

A domain name is simply the brand name of a website. For example, hostbot is the domain name of this website.


It is a unique address on the Internet and no two websites can have the same domain name at the same time. There are exceptions that are discussed below.


One of the important things to keep in mind when thinking about web hosting is that the registration of a domain name and the actual hosting of the website with that registered domain name are two separate services.


For example, the registration of the domain name hostbot.co is simply just staking a claim on a unique address on the Internet so that no one else can use it for another website.


After you have created your website, you will still need a web host to host it before the public is able to view it.


These days, most web hosts provide free domain name registration with the purchase of a web hosting plan. The registration of domain names are usually still done bydomain name registrars.


In anotherarticle, we mentioned that the domain name forms part of the uniform resource locator or URL which is what you type into your browser to get to a website, that is, its complete address on the Internet.


A URL consists primarily of 3 parts : the host name, domain name and top-level domain.

http

This stands for the Hypertext Transfer Protocol which is the standard protocol used for all data communcation across the Internet. Every website must begin with this.

www

The term in front of the domain name is called the host name and is created by the web host hosting the domain.


"www" is a commonly used host name signifying the world wide web but is not the only host name available that you can consider using.


Omission of the "www" is also becoming a widespread practice these days. You can designate a specific area of your website as the host name; for example, blog.hostbot.co can be used as the blog of this website.


The host name of a website is not an overly important consideration and does affect the its performance.

hostbot

This is the actual name or brand of your website, that is, the domain name that you registered for with a domain name registrar or through a web hosting company when you purchase a hosting package with them.

.com

This last bit after the domain name is called a top-level domain. It is an identifier indicating the type of site that you are operating. The various types of top-level domains available include:



TLD Usage

.com

for commercial sites and generally the first choice for websites.

.net

for networks and another popular TLD choice.

.org

for organization like non-profit institutions, think tanks & research groups.

.info, .biz

less common TLDs but can be used for almost any type of websites.

.uk, .au, .hk

for country-specific sites; can also be used to form part of a domain e.g. nautil.us.



The choosing of a top-level domain also generally does not affect the performance of a website. However if you intend your site to predominantly only target a particular location, you may want to consider using a country specific top-level domain.


For example, if you are operating an e-commerce site targeting only customers in the U.K., it would be important to use the ".co.uk" top-level domain so that U.K. visitors will see your site in search engines before other related international sites.


There is also one important caveat to keep in mind when registering for a domain name.


We mentioned above that there can only be one website with a particular domain name at any one time. There can however be websites with that domain name but with different top-level domains. Therefore hostbot.co will be a totally different site from hostbot.net and hostbot.org.


If your intended domain name has been taken, you may want to register it under a different top-level domain. However, you should also be aware that this may confuse your audience as they might not be able to tell which of the two sites is yours.


Similarly, if you do not want your targeted audience to mistake another website with the same domain name as yours but with a different top-level domain, you may also consider registering most of the popular top-level domains to keep others from registering them.



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