What Is A Domain? And How Does A Domain Name Work?
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What is a domain? Well, if you are here, you are probably wanting to build a website for your business. And a domain name is an integral part of doing this – without a domain, you won’t be able to build your website!
Simply put, your domain name is your unique address on the internet.
Think of the internet as a massive city with lots of streets, buildings, and traffic. On the Internet, your website is just like your house in the real world – if you would like people to find your house, they need your address.
Likewise, if people want to find your website, they also need an address – your domain name is that address. And just like your normal house, your domain name is completely unique to you and it can also be bought and sold.
Fun Fact: cars.com is one the most expensive domains that has been sold to date. It was sold for a whopping $872 million dollars! That’s right 8…7…2… MILLION! That is A LOT of dollars!
How Do Domain Names Work?
Your domain name, in its basic form, is simply a unique string of numbers known as an IP address and each computer on the internet has its own unique IP address.
For example, at the time of writing, google.com has an IP address of 184.108.40.206.
Give it a try!
Type 220.127.116.11 into your browser and et voilà! You should be taken directly to the Google homepage.
Now can you imagine needing to type in 18.104.22.168 every time you wanted to visit google?!
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And can you imagine if you had to do that for every single website that you want to visit? It would become a bit of a nightmare!
Instead, IP addresses are given corresponding names that are easy to remember. So instead of needing to remember 22.214.171.124 every time you wanted to visit Google, you simply need to remember www.google.com. Sooooo much easier!
Now, when you type a domain name into your browser and hit enter, your request is sent out to a group of servers called DNS servers, or Domain Name System servers. These domain name system servers know which domain names correspond with which IP address.
When someone enters your domain name into their browser and hits enter, these DNS servers immediately check which IP address corresponds with that domain name. The user is then directed to your website quickly and easily!
Domain Name Extensions
When you choose a domain, you also need to decide what domain extension you would like, for example, .com, .net, org.
These domain name extensions are known as gTLDs or Generic Top Level Domains. Although these domain extensions all pretty much work the same, there are a couple of differences.
For example, traditionally .org extensions are used by nonprofit organizations; .com addresses are used for commercial businesses; .gov for government websites, and .edu for educational organizations.
The domain extension you choose can affect the cost of the domain name you buy. For example, .com addresses generally cost around $10 per year while newer extensions such as .inc can cost over $1,000!
Of course, you also can buy country-specific domain names. So if you have a small business in your local area it may be a good idea to purchase a domain specific to your country rather than a generic domain extension such as .com.
In technical terms, these country-level domain names are called ccTLD (country code top-level domains). In fact, it might be a lot easier to get the exact domain you want with a country-level domain name rather than a generic top-level domain such as .com or .net.
In addition to the normal, everyday domains you usually see online, you are also now able to buy what are known as new top-level domain names (nTLD).
These are domain name extensions that can include more customizable and relevant domain name extensions such as .store, .app, .travel, or even .cool so your choices when it comes to choosing a domain name are almost limitless so check out some really awesome domain name alternatives to the traditional .com domain names!
What Is A Subdomain?
A subdomain is a subdivision or an additional section you can use with your domain name. It is a way to split your domain name so that you can use it for different things. Or put another way, it allows you to completely separate certain sections of your business from each other, without needing to buy an entirely new domain name.
Let’s say for example, that your domain name is “myawesomebusiness.com“, and you have a training course that teaches your staff a particular skill. This training is only for specific people within your business and you don’t want anyone besides those people to have access to it. You also don’t want to buy a completely new domain for this purpose either.
In this case, you would use a subdomain.
You could set up a subdomain called “training.myawesomebusiness.com“. This website is completely separate from your normal website but it shares the main domain name.
Note that a subdomain is also treated as a completely different website by search engines. In essence, you would need to build a second website from scratch for your “training.myawesomebusiness.com” domain.
Many businesses like to split their domains according to what they are doing. For example, you might want sections for your website such as “shop.myawesomebusiness.com“, “blog.myawesomebusiness.com” or even “forum.myawesomebusiness.com“.
Sometimes businesses also use subdomains to split their websites by language if they have a multilingual audience. For example, your website could have a section or domain name specifically for your french speaking clients named “french.myawesomewebsite.com“.
Likewise, you could also have subdomains for each region your business operates in. For example, “asia.myawesomewebsite.com” or “europe.myawesomewebsite.com“.
Domain Name Registration
When you buy a domain it is important to remember that your domain is registered in the public record and a non-profit organization by the name of ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Name and Numbers) maintains all these records. It is ICANN’s job to keep track of who owns which domain name on the internet.
When you buy your domain name, ICANN’s records will include your contact information which are freely available to anyone who searches for them. If however, you would like to hide your personal details you can buy privacy protection when you buy your domain.
Why Do You Need A Domain Name For Your Business?
A domain is an incredibly powerful way to brand your business. By including your business name in your domain name, your websites, your email addresses, and subdomains you give your business a professional look that is seamless so it is easier to create brand awareness and build credibility for your business.
Your domain name is an incredibly important part of building your business. It helps people to easily find you and connect with you. If you need help choosing a domain name for your business, check out our article, How To Choose A Domain Name For Your Business: 11+ Tips To Help You!