What is a Domain Name – Do I Need One – How Do I Choose One?

November 24, 2011 by  Filed under: Domain 

You ask…what is a domain name? Your domain name is your official address for your website. Domain names are unique – no two are exactly the same. A domain name allows your website to be found on the World Wide Web (WWW) when someone types in your official address or, in other words your “URL”. Your domain name will have a suffix behind indicating a top-level domain (TLD) registry database…it will generally be three characters (.com; .org; .net, etc). Domain names are commonly used in URLs to identify each of your web pages. In order to get a domain name for your website, you will first have to choose a domain name and then check your domain name availability. You can check availability through any domain name registrar. ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) has a list of accredited domain name registrars. Choosing a registrar off the ICANN list ensures that the domain name you have chosen is officially a part of the internet. You cannot directly register a domain name with ICANN…you must designate a domain name registrar to have your domain name registered with the appropriate registry.

You will have to pay a fee through a domain name registrar to have your name registered with Internic (Internet Network Information Center). You can register your domain name from 1 to 10 years. Once you go through the easy registration process (entering details like your real name, e-mail address, company name if applicable, and pay your fee with a credit card or through PayPal, your domain name should be available within 48 hours or less. Some web hosting services will register your domain name for you as part of their service…but again, you will want to be sure they list you as the owner of the site, so you have full control over the site.

How do you know the best name to choose for your website? Your website name and domain name should be the same if possible; though it is not always possible to get the domain name you want if someone else has already chosen it for their domain name. When you check to see if a domain name is available, and the name you have chosen is not available, you will usually be offered names that are close to what you have chosen. Domain names can be long or short names. Technically, domain names contain letters, numbers, hyphens, and should be less than 63 characters long (this does not include the extension .com). Obviously, it is easier for people to remember short names. Short names are faster and easier to type into browser windows; and people do not make as many mistakes when typing in a shorter name. Your domain name will serve you better if you choose a name that is closely related to what your website is about (be creative).

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