A Domain name is the address of your website that people type in the browser URL bar to visit your website.
In simple terms, if your website was a house, then your domain name will be its address.
The Internet is a giant network of computers connected to each other through a global network of cables. Each computer on this network can communicate with other computers.
Millions and millions of people all over the world browse the web every day. They browse it by typing in something called a domain name into the address bar of the web browser. The browser and technology behind it then do their magic and you get the website you requested.
To identify them, each computer is assigned an IP address. It is a series of numbers that identify a particular computer on the internet. A typical IP address looks like this:
Now an IP address like this is quite difficult to remember. Imagine if you had to use such numbers to visit your favorite websites.
The following are tips on how to find your computer's IP address. Note that the address will change periodically unless you've chosen to use a static IP (rare for end-users):
- Windows — Though you can click through the user interface to find your network interface settings, one quick way to find your IP address is to open the Command Prompt application from Accessories and enter this command: ipconfig
- Mac — Open your System Preferences, click Network, be sure your current network connection (with the green dot beside it) is selected, click Advanced, and click the TCP/IP tab.
- Linux or UNIX — If don't already have a command prompt, open a terminal application, such as XTERM or iTerm. At the command prompt, enter this command: ifconfig
- Smartphones using WiFi — Look at your phone's network settings. This will vary depending on the phone the version of its operating system.
Note that if you're on a home or small local network, your address will probably be in the form 192.168.x.x, 172.16.x.x or 10.x.x.x (where x is a number between 0 and 255). These are reserved addresses used on each local network, and a router on that network then connects you to the internet [sources: Modi, Price, Rusen].
Domain names were invented to solve this problem.
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.
Every domain consists of at least two parts: the actual domain name and the TLD or Top Level Domain. In our domain.me example, “.ME” is the TLD of Montenegro and the “domain” part is a domain name or domain label we chose for our site. You’ve surely heard of some other top-level domains like .COM, .NET, .ORG, .INFO, .US etc.
You'll recognize domain names as having strings of characters separated by dots (periods). The last word in a domain name represents a top-level domain. These top-level domains are controlled by the IANA in what's called the Root Zone Database, which we'll examine more closely later. There are more than 1,000 top-level domains, and here are some of the most common:
In a domain name, each word and dot combination you add before a top-level domain indicates a level in the domain structure.
Every website that you visit effectively consists of two main elements: a domain name and a web server.
- A web server is a physical machine that hosts the files and the databases that your website is made from and sends them out to people across the internet when they visit your site from their machine.
- The domain name is what people type in to access your site, and it points the web browser to the server that stores those resources. Without a domain name, people would need to remember the specific IP address of your server — and that’s just not going to happen.
Domains are under the jurisdiction of ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers which is responsible for creating new and maintaining current top-level domains.
A website is made up of files like HTML pages, website builder software, images, and more.
If the domain name is the web address of your website, then web hosting is the home where your website lives.
This is the actual computer where your website’s files are stored. Such computers are called servers and they are offered as a service by hosting companies.
Domains can also use redirects, which essentially allow you to specify that if people visit your domain, they’re automatically forwarded to another. This can be useful for campaigns and microsites or for forwarding people to dedicated landing pages on your main site. They can also come in useful for avoiding confusion around spellings. For example, if you visit www.fb.com, you’ll be forwarded to www.facebook.com.
To create your website, you need both domain name and web hosting.
However, it’s important to remember that they are two separate services, and you can buy them from two different companies.
Now you may be wondering, how would it work if you bought them from two separate companies?
You just need to edit your domain name settings and enter the Name Server information provided by your hosting company. Name Server information defines where to send user requests for your domain name.
Here are some quick tips to help you choose a domain name for your next website.
- Stick with a .com domain name as it is the most popular, easy to remember, and easy promote.
- Make sure it is shorter and easy to remember
- Make it easy to pronounce and spell
- Do not use numbers or hyphens
- Use domain name generators to come up with clever domain name ideas
How to Buy a Domain Name?
You can buy domain names from one of the many domain name registrars. A domain name typically costs 14.99 per year. Some popular domain name companies are:
Can I move my website to a different domain name?
Yes, you can. You can point your domain name to your hosting server. You can also keep both domain names pointing to the same website.
However, search engines consider it duplicate content and that will affect your search rankings.
Here is a step by step guide on how to properly move a website to new domain name and setup redirects, so you don’t hurt your SEO
What is a subdomain?
A subdomain is basically a child domain under the main domain name. For example, videos.wpbeginner.com is a subdomain of wpbeginner.com.
Once you register a domain, you have the permission to create subdomains for it by yourself.
Subdomains are commonly used by websites to create child-sites under the same domain name. For example, a business website can create a subdomain for their blog or their online store as store.example.com or blog.example.com
Can I buy more than one domain name?
Yes, you can buy as many domain names as you like.
These servers reside in your ISP's data centers, and they handle requests as follows:
- If it has the domain name and IP address in its database, it resolves the name itself.
- If it doesn't have the domain name and IP address in its database, it contacts another DNS server on the internet. It may have to do this multiple times.
- If it has to contact another DNS server, it caches the lookup results for a limited time so it can quickly resolve subsequent requests to the same domain name.
- If it has no luck finding the domain name after a reasonable search, it returns an error indicating that the name is invalid or doesn't exist.
Now you know more about domain name servers, how DNS maps domain names to IP addresses, and how to choose your domain name and configure it to work within the distributed system of DNS servers around the world. Furthermore, you're in the zone with zone files and registered for success with domain name servers.
You should understand that DNS is not a static concept. In late 2018, ICANN finally rolled out new security features for DNS. In short, those changes affected the cryptographic keys used in the Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) protocol, known by techies as the root zone key signing key (KSK). The security improvements were necessary, says ICANN, because of the way networks are rapidly changing and expanding, in part due to the Internet of Things, which brings millions of new interconnected devices into the internet's fold [source: Cooney].
Domain name is essentially your website’s equivalent of a physical address. In the same way that a satellite navigation needs a street address or a zip code to provide directions, a web browser needs a domain name to direct you to a website.
I hope you found this information useful.
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