What is a domain name? Basically, it’s the address of your website on the internet. But that’s not all. The power of domain names goes well beyond this simple definition. Selecting the right domain can have a significant impact on the success of your website.
A domain name, website and web hosting
What is the difference? This is a very common question for anyone starting their own website. Let’s take a look.
- A domain name (or domain) is a form of internet address used to identify websites and e-mail accounts. For example, the domain name of this website is Webnode.com. It identifies the website and people can find it through their web browsers. If you have a Gmail account, email@example.com, then gmail.com is the domain name.
- A website is a final product that people see on their screen when they enter a domain name into the web browser. It’s a collection of pages, images, files, and other data.
- Web hosting (or web host/web server/hosting) is the place where everything that makes up your website is stored. It is the physical location of your website on the Internet. Usually, a specialized type of computer.
To sum it up, when visitors want to view your website, they type your domain into their browser. Their computer will then connect to your web hosting and your website will appear to them through the browser. Therefore, if you are thinking of getting a domain name, you will need web hosting too. If you are looking for a complete solution for your website – possibility to register domains with hosting included, easy editor and stunning design – you will find it all in Webnode.
Parts of the domain name
A domain name consists of a group of characters followed by a dot and an extension.
We can distinguish two important parts of a domain:
- SLD (Second Level Domain) – this part can consist of any number of alphanumeric characters (a-z, 0-9) and hyphens. No spaces are allowed. For example, if your business is called Luigi’s café you may want to make your SLD luigiscafe.
- TLD (Top Level Domain) – you can choose from certain available TLDs. These are the most popular ones, together with their originally intended and nowadays mostly ignored purposes: .com (intended for all commercial purposes), .org (organizations, often non-profit), .net (network projects), .info (universal).
As an alternative to these generic domains, there are many country-specific/regional TLDs, such as .uk for the UK, .it for Italy, .de for Germany or .pt for Portugal. They could be an ideal choice if you plan to keep your website local.
If you’re looking for something more unusual, you can also choose one of the trendy TLDs, such as .wedding, .bar, .yoga, .photography or .blog. Here you can find the whole list of these modern TLDs provided by Webnode.
There are no rules for choosing a TLD. Pick any that seems like the best fit for your future website.
Second Level domain and Top Level Domain
Your domain name is important
A domain name is not just some address on the internet. It will have a direct impact on the success of your website, so you definitely want to get the best possible domain. A domain that sounds good, is professional, trustworthy, memorable and clearly communicates what your business is about. If chosen correctly, it will bring you recognition, better discoverability and visibility in Google as well as other indirect benefits.
Most of the domains that pop into your mind are probably already registered, which makes the task of choosing one more difficult. Instead, focus on choosing a brandable domain name. Branding is essential for any successful website, whether you want a domain for your blog, personal website or an online store. A domain name should allow you to establish a brand that will remain imprinted in visitors’ minds even after they leave your website.
How to register a domain name
You can register your domain name with a registrar – a company authorized to sell and register domains. There are hundreds of registrars and each might offer different domain extensions for a different price. You can expect to pay a lower price for a new generic domain compared to a trendy domain like .wedding or .blog. Each domain can be registered just once. It means that when a domain is registered, it’s unavailable to be registered by anyone else until the owner decides to stop the renewal of its registration.
Tips for choosing a domain name
We have collected a list of rules for choosing a domain name based on the most common mistakes. Make sure that:
- Your domain is not registered by somebody else
You can check its availability while registering your domain with Webnode or in WHOIS. Check on social media as well. Using the same name for your website and social networks will build your brand and identity. Your visitors, fans and customers will easily find you wherever they’ll be.
- Your domain is unique
Is anyone else using the domain you would like to register? Even though it might appear available, make sure that nobody registered the same name with a different TLD. Ideally, choose a truly original domain which can’t be confused with another one. If the other domain is a registered trademark, using even a part of it in your domain name can lead to unnecessary legal troubles.
- Your domain is short
The most popular website names have on average only 6 characters and the most popular domain length is 11 characters. In this case, less is definitely more as shorter domains tend to be more memorable.
- Your domain is easy to write and spell
You wouldn’t guess how many people typed Tumbler/Flicker/Ernestandyoung instead of Tumblr/Flickr/Ernstandyoung. All of these companies decided to purchase common misspellings of their domains to make sure people reach them. You wouldn’t want to lose potential customers just because they don’t know how to spell out the name of your website.
- Your domain is distinctly pronounceable
If not, visitors are less likely to remember it, share it with friends and you’ll lose the advantage of a naturally occurring word of mouth advertisement.
- Your domain is not made up of keywords only
People will type in certain keywords when looking for your website on Google. If you include one or two of them in your domain, it might help your website rank just a little higher in the search engines. Your visitors could also instinctively predict what the website is about. However, a domain consisting of only keywords could hold back your brand and business expansion in the future.
Plan for the future
Will your domain still look and sound good after a few years? Will it stand the test of time or are you just following some momentary trends?
- Consider using your own name as a domain
This option is just fine if you own a blog or a personal website. You can be your own brand.
- Choose the right extension
You can always go for generic .com, but if you operate internationally, it would be strategic to register local domains as well. Luckily, you can register as many domain extensions as you want. They might come in handy if you plan to expand in the future or if your website is multilingual.
Domains might have a history
And it’s not always good. Your domain could have been owned by someone else in the past and even be used for shady purposes. Check with Google to make sure it was not marked as spam. You can also:
- Use a “site:” operator search in Google. If nothing is found, it’s a good sign. If the domain existed before, it has been already removed from Google index;
- Use the Wayback Machine;
- Check for the domain’s Whois History.
On the other hand, it may be advantageous to use an existing history domain. So-called expired domains are domain names for which the former owners have stopped paying regular fees. These domains are traded in special markets. An expired domain can already contain quality backlinks and make it easier for you to get organic traffic and positions for your search keywords.
Get inspired by domain name generators
You can create new words, that’s what Google or Bing did, or you can combine existing words. Using a thesaurus to find interesting words for your brand could be useful as well.
To sum up…
To start a website (personal or business website, online store, blog), you need to choose a domain name, hosting and a website platform that will run the whole thing. You can find all of this and much more with Webnode.com. Easily create your website, use our suggestions to pick the best possible domain name and you can even get the first year of the domain registration for free.
Suggestion: Create a memorable Web address for unique content areas of your website using subdomains. For example, you could create a subdomain for your blog or online store accessible through blog.domain.com or eshop.domain.com.