Welcome to this 2023 beginner’s guide to domain names! If you’re new to website creation, you may be wondering, “What is a domain?”. In this guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about domain names in simple terms. You’ll learn about their function, structure, how to choose the right one for your website, and where to buy them. By the end of this article, you’ll be a domain name pro!

What is a domain name?

Put simply, a domain name is the web address that people use to find your website. But what does that actually mean? To better understand this concept, let’s consider a real-world analogy. When you want to visit a friend’s house, you need to know their street address, which includes the house number and street name. Similarly, when you want to find a website, you need its domain name.

In the digital world, every website has a unique IP address, which is a series of numbers that identify its location on the internet. However, just like it’s easier to remember a street address than a set of longitude and latitude coordinates, it’s much more user-friendly to remember a domain name than an IP address.

In essence, a domain name is a human-friendly name that represents the IP address of your website on the internet. This makes it easy for people to find and access your website without having to remember its numerical IP address.

What makes up a domain name?

A domain name is made up of two main parts: the second-level domain (SLD) and the top-level domain (TLD). The SLD is the name you choose for your website (for example, ‘blogchap‘). The TLD is the extension that follows the SLD (such as ‘.com’, ‘.net’, or ‘.org’).

To use our earlier analogy, think of the SLD as the name on the front of your friend’s house, while the TLD is like the street name. Together, they tell you exactly where to go to find what you’re looking for.

What is a subdomain?

A subdomain is a way to divide your website into separate sections or categories. For example, if you run an online store, you might have a subdomain for your blog, another for your product pages, and another for your customer support portal. Subdomains are written before the SLD in a URL, separated by a period. For example, the subdomain for a customer support portal might be ‘portal.blogchap.com’.

Is a domain name the same as a URL?

While a domain name is an important part of a website’s URL (Uniform Resource Locator), they are not quite the same thing. A URL is the complete address of a webpage, including the protocol (such as ‘http://’ or ‘https://’), the domain name, and any additional path or query parameters. Domain names are just one part of the URL, but an important one, as they give your website its unique identity on the web.

For a more detailed explanation of the differences between domain names and URLs, check out our article ‘Domain Names vs URLs’.

How to choose the right domain name for your website?

Choosing the right domain name for your website is crucial, as it will be the first thing your visitors will see and remember. Here are some tips to consider when choosing your domain name:

  • Make it short and memorable: Your domain name should be short, easy to remember, and easy to spell. Avoid using hyphens and numbers where possible.
  • Choose a domain extension that fits your business: Domain extensions (such as .com, .org, .net, and country-specific extensions like .co.uk or .com.au) can affect your website’s credibility and authority. Choose an extension that fits your business and is appropriate for your audience.
  • Consider keywords: Including relevant keywords in your domain name can help improve your website’s visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs). However, make sure not to overdo it, as this can look spammy.
  • Check availability: Before settling on a domain name, check its availability. Your preferred domain name may already be taken, so have a few backup options in mind. You can use domain name generators or explore different extensions to find the perfect match.
  • Avoid alternative spellings: Avoid using alternative spellings as this can cause confusion. For example, using “Fyre” instead of “Fire” may seem creative, but it can also lead to misspellings and make it harder for users to find your website.

If you want to learn more about choosing the perfect domain name for your website, check out our in-depth article on “How to choose the perfect domain for your website.” It goes into greater detail on domain extensions, name generators, and more.

How do I buy a domain name?

You can buy a domain name from a domain registrar, which is a company that manages the reservation of domain names. Popular domain registrars include GoDaddy, Namecheap, and Google Domains. You can also purchase domains from domain marketplaces or auctions where existing domains can be sold.

What if your preferred domain name is taken?

If your preferred domain name is already taken, you have a few options:

  • Consider trying a different TLD, like .net or .org, or even a country-specific TLD such as .co.uk or .com.au.
  • Add a prefix or suffix to your preferred domain name, such as “my” or “hq”.
  • Try to contact the current owner to see if they are willing to sell the domain name.
  • Try using a domain name marketplace or auction platform to find and buy a fitting existing domain.

What is domain privacy, and should you use it?

When you buy a domain name, your personal information, such as your name and address, is made public in the WHOIS database. Domain privacy is a service offered by domain registrars to keep your personal information private. It is recommended to use domain privacy to protect your personal information from potential scams or unwanted solicitations.

Can I create a website with just a domain name?

No, a domain name simply serves as your website’s internet address. To actually create a website, you’ll need web hosting. This service enables you to store your website files and pages, making them accessible to users on the internet.

What is the difference between a domain name and web hosting?

A domain name serves as your website’s address, whereas web hosting offers the necessary service for storing your site’s files and pages, making them available online. Think of the domain name as the address of your house, and web hosting as the land and the building where your house is located.

Let’s wrap things up

A domain name is a crucial element of your website’s online presence. By following the tips and guidelines mentioned above, you can choose the perfect domain name for your website and get started with your online journey.

Make sure to purchase your domain name from a reputable registrar and consider using domain privacy to protect your personal information. Remember that a domain name alone is not enough to create a website, and you will also need web hosting to make your site accessible on the internet.

As you embark on this exciting journey of establishing your online presence, remember that choosing the right domain name and web hosting are just the beginning. Keep learning, stay up-to-date with industry trends, and continuously refine your website to provide the best user experience. With dedication and persistence, you’ll be on your way to creating a successful website that truly stands out.