Domain names are a special name that you can apply to your website. Once you
apply it to your website, users can reach your website by typing this domain
name into the browser's address bar. Examples of domain names are
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
great-workout.com and google.com. You can reach the "great
workout" website by typing its domain name (great-workout.com) into the address
Most websites have a www subdomain applied to their domain name so
that you can reach the website by typing "www" followed by the domain name (eg,
www.great-workout.com). This is done on the DNS server after you've
registered the domain name, and has nothing to do with the domain name itself
(i.e. you can add www to any domain name). You can also add other
subdomains as you wish.
Furthermore, you can reach any page on a website by typing the domain name
followed by the path to the page. For example, www.great-workout.com/nutrition/index.cfm
Only one person/company can own a domain name at any time. Therefore, if you
want mycompany.com but someone else has it, you will need to either find
another name, or make them an offer to buy it. You could also wait for it to
expire and hope they don't re-register it, but you could be waiting a long time.
Types of Domain Names
There are more domain names than just those with a .com suffix. There are
many other suffixes that can be used, such as .net, .org, .biz, .info to name a
few. Most of these have a general purpose, for example, .org was created for
organizations, .info was created for information sites etc.
There are also country specific domains. For example, Australia uses .com.au,
New Zealand uses .co.nz.
If the .com version of your chosen name is unavailable, another suffix could
be available. These are seen as different domain names. For example,mycompany.com
and mycompany.org are two different domain names - one company could
register the .com and another could register the .org version. The same applies
for company specific domain names. Some countries have further criteria that you
need to satisfy before they will allow you to register a domain name with that
Choosing a Domain Name
You should choose a domain name that truly reflects what your website is all
about. You should try and keep your domain name concise. If it consists of
multiple words consider separating each word with a hypen. This will largely
depend on how the domain name looks with and without a hypen. It will also
depend on the availability of your preferred domain name.
If you find that your preferred domain name has already been registered under
all applicable suffixes, you might need to get creative and think of another
domain name. At this point, you may also need to consider the name of your
website. If this isn't an option, you could try buying a domain name off the
Registering a Domain Name
You don't actually buy a domain name, you register it. To do
this, you need to register it with a domain name registrar. You can
choose how long you'd like to register it for. Options typically include
anywhere from 1 year to 10 years.
In a sense, you can buy a domain name. You can do this if someone else
already has already registered the domain name. What you're really doing though
is buying the right to register it. You still need to keep the domain name
registered with a registrar, otherwise someone else will be able to register it
once it expires.
Many web hosting providers include domain registration in their hosting
packages. In this case, you don't need to register it through a separate domain
Hosting a Domain Name
Once you've registered a domain name, your domain name registrar will
probably point it to a webpage that they've configured. This page may have ads
on it - that way they can make money from your domain name!
If you need it to point to your website (well, what else would you want to do
with it?), you will need to update the authoritative DNS servers to be those of
your website hosting provider. Your web hosting provider can provide you with
these details. Once you've received them, you should be able to log in to a
control panel via your domain name registrar's website. This control panel
should have an option for you to update the authoritative DNS servers of your
Behind the Scenes
You may be wondering how on earth the domain name ends up pointing to your
When your hosting provider configures your website, they assign it an IP
address. An IP address looks something like this: 126.96.36.199. Your IP address
is unique - no other IP address on the Internet is the same as the one given to
your website. Now, what this means is that anyone could access your website by
typing in the IP address. Technically, you don't even need a domain name. Only
problem with this is that IP addresses are hard to remember. It's much easier to
remember a nice catchy domain name.
Anyway, after your hosting provider assigns an IP address to your website,
you have the option of having a domain name resolve to that IP address.
When you enter in the details of an authoritative DNS server, you are specifying
which server should be used to resolve that domain name. The authoritative DNS
server links your domain name with an IP address. You could have as many domain
names as you like pointing to the same IP address. Therefore, you could have
mycompany.com, mycompany.org and mycompanys-product.com all
pointing to the same website.