What Is a Domain Name?
Learn about domain names and how you can connect one (or several) to your website.
1. Domain Name 101: All the fundamentals you should know One common question every potential web owner asks is: What is a domain name? Briefly, a domain name system or DNS is a worldwide-recognized system of assigning addresses to internet hosts (also known as internet web servers). Somehow, like international phone numbers, DNS aids to provide internet servers with memorable, easy to spell addresses. At the same time, domain names help hide the technical Internet Protocol (IP) addresses.
While IP addresses provide exact addresses of the location of a website, domain names act like a cabbie you ask to take you to a specific address, and you get there. Domain names, therefore, provide you with an easy way to reach a particular website without having to remember the exact numeric addresses.
Domain names consist of at least top-level and second-level domains. The top-level domain (or TLD) is that part of the name that is located to the right of the dot. The most common TLDs are .org, .net, and .com. Most domains, sometimes called extensions, can be registered by anyone.
A second-level domain (SLD) is that portion of a domain name located immediately to the dot’s left side and domain extension. For example, for a website addressed, myreallycoolsite.com, the SLD is myreallycoolsite.
A domain name is representative of a physical point available on the internet – the IP address. The Internet Corporation Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) governs the coordination of domain names and IP addresses over the internet. This coordination allows you to locate websites quickly without having to enter IP addresses in your web browser.
2. Understanding the IP address The internet protocol address is a unique string of number, such as 126.96.36.199, provided to every individual network, server, and network on the internet.
Like an address is used to identify a home or business, the IP address is critical for the identification and location of the information on the internet. The address is also used for supporting communication between networks and devices on the internet.
3. What is the “WWW” before domain names? The “WWW” is the subdomain and not part of domain names themselves. For example, when you set up your www and CNAME to point at a particular primary record, your site should be available both at myreallycoolsite.com and www.myreallycoolsite.com. Should your new site be unreachable without the www, then the CNAME could have been setup incorrectly.
4. How domains work Once visitors want to enter your site, they will need to enter the domain name into a web browser, and the browser locates the IP associated with your domain name. It is easier for people to remember your domain name compared to a series of numbers.
5. What is domain name registration? Domain registration does not activate your website automatically for visitors when they enter the domain name you chose. Your domain name needs to be associated with a numeric address (IP address) for visitors to get a chance to use your domain name.
After registration of your domain name, you can use it for several things including:
-Holding on to it when you are not sure what you want to do with it
-Protecting your brand online by registering several brand names to prevent others from registering similar names
-Selling it since unused domain names can be an excellent investment
-Completion of registration and setting up your website