What is a domain name and how does it work? In this guide, you will find all the answers you’ve been looking for concerning domains.
In fact, this is the guide for anyone looking to start a website. It shows you all the ropes you need to pull to get the perfect name for your next blog.
What is a domain name?
Domain names are the addresses of websites. It is that address people type into their browsers when accessing a website.
To access our website, you’d type Truehost.com into your web browser, and you’d be redirected here.
Hold onto your seats because it is about to get technical.
Imagine this, if your website was a house, its domain name would be the address to that house.
I know that is an oversimplification, but that is as simple as it can go.
See, the internet is a global network of computers that are connected to each other through a series of cables. Every computer on this network can communicate with other computers through these cables.
When identifying a computer on the internet, it’s important to understand how they are identified.
As such, each computer has an IP address that consists of a series of numbers that identifies a particular computer. One way to identify an IP address is by using the following format: 126.96.36.199
Now, an IP address has become a common way of identifying a website for many internet users.
And as you can guess, this can be difficult for individuals to remember and can cause frustration when visiting these websites, especially if you have to use such numbers on a regular basis.
But then domain names were invented to provide a unique address for each website. They solved the problems of long, complicated URLs, and users were able to more easily navigate the web.
And now if you want to visit a website, then you don’t need to enter a long string of numbers. Instead, you can visit it by typing an easy-to-remember domain name in your browser’s address bar.
For example, www.truehost.com.
How does a domain work?
In order to comprehend how a domain name works, we must first look at what happens when you type the name into your web browser.
Whenever you type a domain name into a web browser, a request is sent to a global network of servers that powers the Domain Name System (DNS).
Before we go further, think of DNS as the internet’s phonebook. This is the place where IP addresses we talked about earlier are mapped to corresponding alphabetic names.
So, once the DNS server receives the request, it matches with associated names.
If you host your website with us, then your name server information would resemble the following;
By the way, your name server information is managed by your hosting company. This means that when a request arrives from a browser, your hosting company forwards it to the computer your website is stored.
This special computer is known as a web server. Inside the web server, there is special software installed (either Apache or Nginx, these two are the most popular).
Finally, the webserver fetches the exact requested web page and sends the data back to the browser. That is when you finally see the results on your screen.
Domain Name vs Website vs Web Hosting
As we’ve already seen, a domain name is an address pointing to a specific website.
A website is made of files like HTML pages, images, articles, and other stuff while web hosting is what provides the website with the infrastructure to function on the internet.
Using our previous analogy;
If your website is a house, the domain name is the address. And the actual building is hosting space. While the content inside is the website pages.
And as you can guess, you need the two to create a website; a domain name and web hosting.
But, it is important for you to know that these are two different services. This means that you can get a domain name from company A and hosting from company B.
How would you bring the two to work?
Well, your hosting company B will provide you with name servers. All you have to do is change the name servers of your domain hosted at company A to the name servers provided by company B.
Again, name servers specify where to send requests whenever someone searches for your domain.
But here is the thing;
We recommend that you get both services from the same hosting company. Why? This is to avoid back and forth in case of an issue. Plus, you will have an easier time managing your services, now that they are under one account.
Different Types of Domain Names
Every business owner or company needs a website. However, not every website is created equal. There are different types of domain names that a business owner or company could use to achieve their desired outcome.
Domain names can be a powerful tool for your business and they can also be very confusing. This section breaks down the different types of domain names and what they are used for.
a). Top-Level Domains (TLDs)
What is a TLD?
A top-level domain (TLD) is a generic term for the last part of a domain name, such as .com, .org, and .net.
Top-level domains are important because they allow businesses to easily identify the website that they are trying to reach. Some TLDs may be more popular than others, but that does not mean that they are better or worse.
TLDs are also known as domain extensions.
b). Country-Code Top-Level Domains (ccTLDs)
ccTLDs are country-code top-level domains (ccTLDs) that are used to identify the specific country because they end with a country code. For example, .UK for the United Kingdom, .KE, for Kenya, and so forth.
Country code top-level domains are managed by ISO 3166, which defines two codes for each country. The first two letters of each code represent an ISO 3166-1 alpha2 or numeric code and must be identical to those assigned to that country in ISO 3166-1. The third letter represents an optional subdomain, while the fourth letter represents an optional domain qualifier.
Use of ccTLDs is only recommended if your website is targeting an audience from a specific country.
c). Generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs)
Generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) are the top-level domains that make up the Internet’s domain name system. They are the last of the original top-level domains, which were created in 1985.
As mentioned, the Domain Name System (DNS) is a hierarchical naming system for computers, services, or any resource connected to the Internet or a private network. Its primary function is to translate human-memorable names into numbers that can be communicated via computer networks and recognized by other computers on those networks.
As of March 2018, there were over 1,200 generic top-level domains (gTLDs).
Mostly, gTLDs can be used to identify the domain class associated with it, for example, .com, .org, etc.
At the same time, there is a special restriction on how to register these kinds of domains. But there are some gTLDs that are restricted to special registrants.
For example, .edu is reserved for academic institutions, .gov for governmental agencies, etc.
How to Choose a Domain Name for Your Website?
At the moment, there are over 367.3 million domains registered across the globe, and the number keeps rising every day.
This means that all the good domain names are already taken or will soon be gone. These heaps pressure on new users because to stand out, you need a unique and catchy domain.
To help you out, here are some tips to consider when choosing a domain name;
- Stick with a .com – .com is the most popular domain extension and can easily be found with a search engine. You should make sure that you register your domain name before any others do to avoid any confusion about who owns it.
- Make sure the domain is shorter and easy to remember
- Only pick a domain that is easy to pronounce and spell
- Avoid the use of numbers or hyphens, it beats points 2 and 3
- Domain name generator websites are a great way to come up with creative domain names, use them.
How to Buy a Domain Name?
Type the domain or keyword into the box and hit search. Here, the Truehost name checker tool will scour the DNS system looking for a match.
If it finds it, you will get a message that your domain is unavailable, which means it is already registered by someone else.
And when that happens, you can search for a different name.
But if it doesn’t, you will get a message that your domain is available.
If it is available, it means you can proceed with the registration process.
Just click add to cart and then checkout.
Here is a complete guide on how to buy a domain name.
Frequently Asked Questions About Domain Names
What is a subdomain?
A subdomain is a part of a domain that is not the main website. For example, if you go to www.example.com, you can visit the website for example.com and any other subdomain such as blog.example.com or support.example.com.
It is the child domain under the main domain.
Do I Need a Domain for a Website?
Although visitors are able to visit your website from an IP address, it is difficult for them to remember the string of numbers and figure out how to access its pages. A domain makes your website easier for users to remember and more accessible, which can lead to increased traffic on your website. A domain name is a unique identifier that helps you find your website on the internet. It’s like an address on the web. For example, if your website is www.example.com, then you would need to register a domain name like example.com or www.example.com to use it for your website.
How do I use my domain name?
The best way to use your domain name is to make it your brand. Brand your domain name by using a combination of keywords that are relevant to your industry, with words that are easy to search for and remember. For example, if you are a fitness coach, you might choose the keywords “fitness” and “coach” as well as “gym.” Branding your domain name is simple and cheap.
However, the downside is that your potential customers have to remember your brand or at least know what it means. For example, if you are a florist, you might use “flower” and “flowers.” The upside of branding your domain name is that it will give you more organic traffic since people who are searching for flowers will then find your website.
Do I need a website for a domain?
If you are planning to purchase a domain, it is important to know whether you need a website for it. If the answer is yes, then you should proceed with getting a website. A website helps your business in many ways. It provides an online presence and helps your company to reach out to more customers. It also helps with SEO and marketing efforts. If you don’t have a website for your domain, it’s better to get one now before someone else does!
Why do Domains cost money?
Domain names cost money because the supply is scarce, which ensures people will be willing to pay for them. Domain name scarcity is created by making domain names available through a market and through a process called delegation to an entity called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). The entire infrastructure of DNS and ICANN (services, arbitration) is expensive.
Domain prices vary depending on the type of domain, the number of words in its name, what it is for, and how easily someone can buy it.
Domain names are usually purchased through a registrar. A registrar is a company that sells domain names and handles all the administrative tasks related to them. The cost of a domain depends on many factors such as:
- The type of domain you are purchasing (gTLD vs ccTLD)
- The number of words in the name
- What it is for (e.g. website vs blog)
- How easily someone can buy it