What is a Domain Name – A Detailed guide

Domain name illustration

In today’s digital landscape, domain names play a crucial role in establishing an online presence.

Whether you’re a business owner, blogger, or aspiring entrepreneur, understanding what a domain name is and its significance is essential.

So let’s dive deeper into the fundamentals of domain names, their purpose, and how what they mean for you and your blog.

What is a Domain Name?

A domain name is a unique and human-readable address that identifies a website on the internet.

Take www.blogicent.com for example. The name between the dots is what the domain name is and it is the actual address where the website lives.

It serves as a human-readable substitute for the complex numerical IP addresses that computers use to locate and communicate with websites. And instead of having to type in 192.168.100.1 or some similar IP address every time, people have come up with domain names. This way it is much easier for people to find the website they are looking for and also adds to the branding of your website.

A domain name consists of two main components: the top-level domain (TLD) and the second-level domain (SLD).

Top-Level Domain (TLD)

The top-level domain is the last segment of a domain name, appearing after the final dot. Common examples include .com, .org, .net, and country-specific TLDs like .uk or .ca. TLDs categorize websites based on their purpose or geographical location.

In the past, each one of the top-level domains had a strict meaning and was reserved for websites with specific purposes but nowadays the boundaries are washed up.

.com was reserved for commercial websites

.net facilitated network websites or network infrastructure ones

.org was meant for organizations and nonprofits

And with the expansion of the internet and the rise of businesses that require websites other top-level domains were invented such as .biz .blog .space .io etc.

This is due to the increasing number of websites every day.

Second-Level Domain (SLD)

The second-level domain is the part of the domain name that appears before the TLD (.com .org .net). It is the unique name that represents your brand, website, blog, portfolio, or whatever purpose your website serves. For example, in the domain name “blogicent.com,” “blogicent” is the SLD.

This is usually the part of the domain name that is most taken into consideration. It is how your business is named and it needs to be easy-to-read, well-recognizable, and catchy. In my blog post about choosing a domain name, you can find a detailed guide on how to choose a name for your website.

The Importance of Domain Names

As I have mentioned above choosing the right domain name for your website or blog is one of the most important things you need to do in advance before starting a blog.

Branding

A domain name plays a pivotal role in establishing and promoting your brand identity online. It serves as a memorable and recognizable representation of your brand. It’s also something you must insure is not violating any copyrights.

That’s why before choosing a domain name you should do your own research and see how your domain name might clash with other already registered businesses. In this regard, you should try to make your domain name as original and unique as possible.

Having a similarly sounding to another business name will only hurt your reputation and accessibility

Website Accessibility

Domain names make it easier for users to access your website. Instead of remembering a lengthy IP address, they can simply type in your domain name into their web browser.

This is where the shortness of the domain names comes into play. The shorter your domain name, the easier for people it is to remember.

A rule of thumb for accessible domain names is that they shouldn’t consist of more than 2 phrases. So instead of going with differentwaystomakemoneywithablog.com I came up with the idea to create a brandable name which is a metamorphosis between blogging and money (cent) which turned out to be blogicent.

Also, you should try to use easier-to-spell words or hard-to-mistake ones. Domain names that sound distinguishable when spelled out loud usually make for easier-to-access domain names.

Credibility and Professionalism

A well-chosen domain name can enhance your online credibility and professionalism. It conveys trustworthiness to your visitors, potential customers, and business partners.

There is no exact formula to active credibility and professionalism through your domain name but I would strongly suggest never using words like “the best” “VIP” or “five-star”.

Think of it like that. Real professionals sell themselves through their work and it should be the same for your blog. Don’t go boasting about how top of the top you are through your domain name. In the same way, you have a first name and people associate it with you and your character the same way it should be for your blog.

Your parents gave you a name. They didn’t name you Best Money Making Machine, expecting you would turn out into a business course selling guru.

Email Address

One of the ways to build professionalism and branding is through a personalized email name and that comes with owning a domain name.

A domain name enables you to create professional email addresses that use your brand’s name.

For example, with the domain name “cutecats.com,” you can have an email address like info@cutecats.com or sales@cutecats.com.

This raises your credibility highly because it is generally considered that only businesses have that kind of email. Of course, it’s not true only businesses can have that but in the eyes of a potential lead or customer you would look like a much more professional business.

Registering a Domain Name

To register a domain name, you need to follow a few simple steps:

Choose a Registrar

Select a reputable domain registrar that offers domain registration services. Popular registrars include GoDaddy, Namecheap, and Bluehost. After you have chosen a registrar you can compare prices. There isn’t much tweaking and functionalities that go into registering domain names so most of people’s choices are usually done based on price. Also later on you can opt-in to transfer your domain to another service.

Check Domain Availability

Use the registrar’s domain search tool to check if the domain name you’re looking for is available to buy. If it’s already registered, you may need to consider alternative options. A good rule of thumb is that if the domain name you’re searching for is available on a certain domain extension, don’t buy it on another. It’s quite easy to mistake cats.net for cats.com when you type it into the browser tab.

Select a TLD and SLD

Decide on the appropriate TLD and SLD for your domain name. Consider what your brand stands for what is the target audience, and the niche of your website. If you take a look at most websites that rank on the first result page of Google you will see that most of them are .com domains. Google has said they don’t take the top-level domain into consideration when ranking but still, a .com domain sounds better and more universal.

Complete the Registration Process

Follow the registrar’s instructions to complete the domain registration process. You will be prompted to provide your name, phone and address whether it be your personal or your business address. Afterward, you will have to choose a payment method and proceed with the buying process. At the buying details, you will most often be presented with ad-ons to add to your domain such as SSL certificates, protection, and business email registration.

Manage DNS Settings

Once you have registered your domain and the payment is successful, you can manage your domain’s DNS (Domain Name System) settings to connect it to your website or other online services. This is usually a very simple process that requires you to copy certain DNS addresses from your hosting provider and paste them into your domain DNS settings. Every hosting provider has an option to do that and the steps are very easy to follow.

FAQs

What is the difference between a domain name and a website

A domain name is an address that users type into their web browsers to access a website. On the other hand, a website is a collection of web pages, images, videos, and other content that is hosted on servers and accessed through a domain name.

Think of your domain as a street address where your house is located and by the house I mean the website.

Can I change my domain name after registration?

In most cases, it is possible. But it can be a complex process and may require transferring your website’s content and redirecting traffic from the old domain to the new one.

I always recommend carefully choosing your domain name from the start to avoid the need for changes later on. Changing your domain is a hustle and needs you to set up 301 redirects and such and on some occasions it can greatly hurt your SEO.

Can I buy a domain name without creating a website?

Yes, you can totally do that. In fact, I had my domain name for 2 months before I even created this blog. Many bloggers and businesses buy their domain names in advance for future use or to prevent others from buying them. You can register a domain name and keep it parked until you are ready to create a website. Also, there is something in the SEO field called domain aging and the more aged your domain is the better for your SEO it is. You can read more on the topic of SEO here

What are subdomains?

Subdomains are extensions that sit before your second-level domain like: flights.google.com. In this example “flights” is the subdomain. This is a very good way to separate different categories of content on your website especially if it has grown very big. Also each subdomain in this case becomes its own web address.

Conclusion

A domain name is you. It is your business and your website’s identity. Choose it carefully because once stuck with a domain name it is what it is forever.

Make sure you don’t niche down too much In naming your website. Give yourself room for growth straight through your domain name.

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