Have you ever wondered what a website domain is and how important it is to your business?
What differentiates a website domain from a website URL? What does the IP address of the server have to do with all that?
And in the end, how will a website domain help to bring more visitors to your site?
A domain name is a string that identifies a space within the Internet allocated to your website.
Since every website “lives” on some type of a server somewhere in the world, we need to have a specific way of accessing it, one way or another. Servers are another type of machine, and like any other machine, they don’t like working with words. They prefer numbers. At least one IP (Internet Protocol) address gets assigned to every server; this of this as the server’s address. If your website is the only website hosted on a web server, you could use the IP address to access it.
Take liquidweb.com for example. It’s definitely easier to say or remember than the IP address of the server it’s hosted on, which is 126.96.36.199.
Now try to imagine having to remember strings of numbers for every web page that comes to your mind. Difficult for a human, easy for a server.
Additionally, a single IP address can host multiple different websites. To access them, you’d need to remember extra identifiable information about each of those websites. It would be almost as if having to remember GPS coordinates for every location you’re trying to reach instead of knowing the street address it’s located on. It’s inconvenient, at the least. That’s where the website domain comes in.
But how are an IP address and a domain name connected?
A Domain Name System is a virtual directory for the Internet that connects domain names to IP addresses, thereby allowing browsers to load the domain successfully. The DNS also defines what a website domain should look like and what it consists of.
Web browsers show the website’s URL in the address bar on top of the displayed website. The image above shows an example of a valid URL, split into 4 different sections:
Let’s take a look at sections 3 and 4 more closely, since the Second Level Domain and Top Level Domain are what truly make up a domain name.
Second level domains are the most important part of the URL, as that is the part visitors and customers will need to remember, so make sure it is memorable. This part represents your business online. The Second Level Domain is directly to the left of the domain suffix, also known as the top level domain.
If you’ve ever thought about owning a website, you’ve most definitely thought about the second level domain. Choosing the best domain for your new business is a tricky process that requires brainstorming and some creative thinking.
Just like choosing the name for your new business in general, you will want your domain name (a combination of the SLD and TLD) to stand out among other competitors. You will want something professional, but also easy to remember, easy to say, and at least slightly original. Maybe catchy, too.
Additionally, for the most professional look, your website and email should use the same domain, and it should resemble the business name as closely as possible. If the actual business name is too long, abbreviations can be used as well.
The thing about domains is that you’d also need to check for the specific domain’s availability. The Internet has become a crowded place. Most of the simplest, self-explanatory domains are already taken, or up for sale, for exuberant prices. You can use tools such as Instant Domain Search to find which names are taken and which are available instantly.
A Top Level Domain is the last portion of your domain after the period. There are many different types of top level domains to choose from, each having their own purpose.
There are quite a few different TLDs nowadays, including, but not limited to:
Newer TLDs can be more expensive than the traditional TLDs, such as “.net,” but the potential benefits for brand strengthening and market capture can outweigh the cost.
Use the following criteria to evaluate which Top Level Domain is right for you:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a list of various tools and procedures that help make your website one of the first results when searching the web for a specific keyword on a search engine such as Google or Bing. One of the things that can help with SEO is the choice of a domain name as well.
Keep the following in mind for an SEO-friendly domain name:
Once you’ve reached a decision about the business name and potential domain names you’d like to use, it’s time to purchase a domain from one of the many domain name registrars, including Liquid Web.
Usually, to keep everything simpler, you will want to choose your web hosting provider as your domain registrar as well. They’ll be able to assist you with any potential issues or questions regarding both.
You can purchase domain name registrations for different periods (usually annually). Depending on the domain name, or the TLD, their prices can vary from free domains to those costing a couple of hundreds of dollars per year.
Choosing a correct domain for your business is obviously important, just like a good location for your physical storefront would be. You’d want to make sure that your neighbors are people you can work with, or that the banners you’d be using aren’t misleading. It’s the first impression your visitors and potential customers will get on the web.
Just like your website should be made in a professional way, either by professionals or using a professional website builder, the domain should reflect what’s happening behind the scenes effectively. In the end, your unique and clever domain name may make the visitor choose you over your competitors.