The domain name is that ‘dotsomething’ piece of information that you put in your browser or search engine bar when trying to open a website. Its main purpose is to provide your friends, community members or customers with a user-friendly way to reach your website.
How the domain name works
To understand the importance of domain names for making websites easily accessible to the public, let’s see what exactly happens behind the scenes when you open a site on the web. The moment you type the name of the site you want to open in the address bar of your browser (Internet Explorer, Mozilla, Chrome, etc.), the latter sends an immediate request to the web server where the site is located.
That request is handled by the DNS (the Domain Name System) that converts the domain name into the website’s actual physical address on the server (also known as an IP address). These are the so called name servers, or NS records, that store information of which IP address corresponds to the requested domain. As soon as the information is read and the domain converted into its belonging IP address, the server sends a response back to the browser and the website shows up online.
Now it becomes clear that the domain actually plays the role of a substitute for the IP address, which is the real address of the website. If you type the IP address into your browser you will be taken to the site it relates to. However, could you imagine yourself having to type a meaningless string of numbers every time you need to open a website? This would be the same as turning to your friends by their Social Security number! This is why we have domain names - simple, easy-to-spell-and-remember web address names that stick in our minds and help us easily find our way on the web.
Another noteworthy advantage of the domain name over the IP address of a website is that the domain name is unique and unchangeable. While the IP address of your website may change if you change the web hosting provider i.e. the server where the site contents are located, the domain name stays the same all the time. To make it work on the new server as well, you will need to simply change its name servers so they point to the new physical address.
What to use a Domain Name for?
So now you see that the domain name saves us a lot of trouble and time surfing the web and using the Internet as a whole. In fact, we all spend so much time online namely because the domains create a human friendly environment, where it is easy to find our way among the ever-growing labyrinth of sites. The domain name is like the road sign leading us to the website that we want to visit. By knowing the domain name of a site, we can read the road signs leading us to the desired destination.
When you make a domain name registration for your site you can use the domain for a few different purposes:
- to create your own unique web identity that your friends and customers can associate you with. It has been proven that the shorter and the closer to your site’s purpose or company name a domain is, the easier it will be for your site visitors to remember it; examples of some very popular sites: cnn.com, bbc.co.uk, amazon.com, etc.
- to help your site climb the search engine charts; search engines are weighing your site’s relevancy to certain keywords. If your domain name contains the keywords that you want your visitors to search your site by, then you have chances to appear higher in the search results than if it does not have any.
- to send and receive email using your unique email address; Running your e-correspondence through your own email address like email@example.com, instead of your Hotmail, Yahoo or Gmail account, adds to the prestige and credibility of your web presence.
How to choose your domain name?
When choosing a domain for your site you need to try to harmonize its two parts with the purpose of your site. First, think whether you can include the name of your company or brand in the first part of the domain. Mind to also use a word that refers to what your site is about - if you own a photo gallery, you can use ‘photo’, if you sell services - name the services you sell, etc. For instance, if your site will be an e-store selling shoes, then you will have to think of a name that contains the name of your store and the word ‘shoes’.
When ready with the first part, try to select an extension (TLD) that corresponds to the purpose of your site. If you are choosing a name for your e-store, try to go for a commercial extension like .COM, .BIZ, or the domain of the country that your store will be intended for. If your site is non-commercial, then you can get an .ORG or .ME domain, etc.
However, choosing the ideal domain for you may sometimes be more difficult than you expect. With millions of domains already registered, chances are high that your particular domain choice is already taken. Especially, if you insist on any of the most popular domains - .COM or .NET. So what do you do then?
There are still many domains available out there, so simply think of alternatives. If the .com domain is occupied and you do want to keep that extension, make a small change to the first part of the domain by adding or removing a character or putting hyphens between the separate words. If the first part is more important to you than the extension, then do not change it, select a different TLD instead. With so many extensions available, you will surely find another valuable TLD to match your website needs.
Domain Name Registration/Transfer with NTC Hosting
To find the right domain name for your website you should make sure your registrar offers a wide selection of TLDs and a fully featured domain management tool from where you can control your domain settings. For instance, the web hosting packages by NTC Hosting come with a Control Panel integrated Domain Manager, from where you could manage your domains’ security/WHOIS information settings, supplemented by a full pack of DNS controls including MX& A Records, NS Records, CNAME Records, AAAA Records, SRV Records, TXT Records, etc. The advanced domain management tool allows you to register multiple domains and manage them from one and the same place.