What is a domain?28-06-2023 - Blogs
An integral part of our online experience
Domains are essential to our online experience and have evolved to become an integral part of our modern digital world. In 1980, the concept of “domain” was unknown, but in the year 2023, it is almost impossible to avoid encountering the need to use a domain name, regardless of whether you are sitting in front of a computer, with your mobile phone in your hands or a tablet on you lap.
What is a domain?
In its basic form, it is a unique text-based identification of a website or a so-called URL. This is what we usually type in a web browser to visit a specific page, e.g. “https://thedomainrobot.com/” or “https://google.com“. They thus function as human-readable substitutes for the complex numerical IP addresses that the Internet uses to identify servers and their location. If you enter, for example, “https://google.com” in your browser, there are actually several things behind the scenes to deliver the desired web page.
So when you try to access your favorite web shop via your browser, your computer sends a query to a so-called DNS server (Domain Name System), this DNS server is then responsible for translating the entered domain names into IP addresses for the corresponding IP address, e.g. might “https://google.com” become “192.143.281.861”. So there is not a computer somewhere in the world with a sticker that says “https://google.com“, the computer has instead been assigned an IP address.
In many ways, a domain name is the same to an IP address – as a private address is to a set of coordinates (lat/lng) on a globe. Roughly speaking, a domain name acts as a convenient tool that allows us humans to find and access websites without having to remember complex numeric IP addresses for each website.
And now you may be wondering about how a URL is translated into an IP address – that is a slightly longer explanation, which we certainly don’t want to cheat you on – that’s why this topic will gets its very own blog post!.
What is a website address?
A website address, also known as a URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is a combination of different elements that give your browser specific information about how it should communicate with the server where the page is located – and the domain is one of these elements.
1) The protocol
HTTP/HTTPS indicates the protocol used for communication between your browser and the server where the website is located. For many years HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) was the most common protocol used on the Internet. However, due to vulnerabilities to hacker attacks and protection of user privacy, HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) has now become the standard protocol.
2) The subdomain
www is an example of a subdomain and is traditionally used as an abbreviation for “World Wide Web”. It became common to use www as a default prefix when the internet was a whole new thing, but it’s not really used anymore – but it will usually be a good idea to still set it up on your DNS configuration, because there are a small number of people who still writes www in front of everything.
A subdomain is a way of organizing and structuring websites on the Internet. It can be compared to the organization of folders on a computer, where files and resources are grouped by categories.
Good examples in addition to www could be “app.domain.com”, “test.domain.com” or “mail.domain.com”. These can be customized as needed and can contain letters and numbers to create unique identifiers. They therefore provide the opportunity to divide a page into different sections and/or offer specific functionality under different addresses.
3) Second-level domain (SLD)
A second-level domain is the name that you have registered or bought/own/rent. This is the part that comes before the TLD
4) Top-level domain (TLD)
A top-level domain (TLD) is the last part of the URL that indicates the overall category or country affiliation. The TLD is usually a two- or three-letter abbreviation found after the last period of the full URL/website address.
The TLD can have different purposes and meanings. It can, for example, used to indicate the language of the page, the country of affiliation, the type of organization, or perhaps the industry that the page represents. Here are some examples of common TLDs and their purpose:
- .com (Commercial): Generally used by commercial companies and has a global reach.
- .dk, .se, .com (country-coded TLDs): These indicate countries, e.g. .dk for Denmark and .se for Sweden.
- .org (organization): Often used by non-profit organizations and interest groups.
- .net (network): Historically used by network-related businesses and organizations.
- .edu (education): Reserved for academic institutions and education-related organizations.
- .gov (government): Exclusively for government agencies and government organizations.
The TLD can e.g. give an indication of language, geographical location or the purpose of the page, but it is important to note that it is not always an absolute indicator. Many sites use generic TLDs like .com despite language and geographic “location”.
5) Page or file name
The name of the file/page in question has on the server
The file type of the page – such as .html, .aspx, php, .zip, .txt..
How Do Domain Names Work?
For a clear comprehension of how domain names work, we will explore the process that occurs when you type it into your web browser.
When you enter a domain name into your web browser, the first action taken is a request sent to a worldwide network of servers forming the Domain Name System (DNS). Next, these servers search for the name servers or DNS servers associated with the domain, and they send the request to them. For instance, if your website is hosted on Bluehost, the DNS records of your name server info might resemble this:
These name servers are computers operated by your hosting firm. The computer where your website is located will be connected to by your hosting provider. This server, known as a web server, has special software installed on it (Apache and Nginx are two popular types of web server software). The web server will then retrieve the webpage and any related data and ultimately, this information is returned to the user’s browser.
How is Domain Name Different from a Website and Web Hosting?
A website forms the online identity of your business and consists of numerous files like HTML pages, pictures, and web builder software. Think of your domain name as your website’s address, while web hosting is akin to the home in which your website resides. The physical computer where your website’s files get stored is known as the server, provided as a service by hosting agencies.
To establish your website, you require both web hosting and a domain name. These are essential components whether you’re constructing a personal blog, a small business site, or an eCommerce platform. However, it’s crucial to note that they are distinct things, and you have the option of purchasing them from two different providers. But we suggest obtaining your web hosting and domain name from the same provider for ease of management, is the best way, for most people.
Who is Responsible for the Domain Name System?
The Domain Name System, often summarized as DNS, is akin to the “phonebook” of the online world. Whereas searching for sites using numerical IP addresses is laborious, DNS delivers the benefit of utilizing easy-to-retain domain names.
Different organizations worldwide bear the responsibility for administering the DNS. These authoritative entities ensure that this crucial virtual directory is appropriately regulated, coordinated, and maintained. They handle coding and regulations to map domain names to corresponding IP addresses and keep the virtual world running seamlessly.
At the helm of these important tasks is the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers or ICANN. ICANN, a non-profit entity, coordinates and keeps the DNS running efficiently. It also ensures that every internet address is distinct, averting potential mix-ups.
Below ICANN, there’s a hierarchy of companies and organizations that deal with different domain levels. Take for example registries; they take care of top-level domains (TLDs) like .com, .net or .org. Then, there are registrars, beneath registries. They interact directly with the public, offering domain name registration services.
Lastly, we have web hosting companies and internet service providers (ISPs). They play a role in DNS workings by storing DNS data in their servers and providing internet connection services respectively.
In conclusion, the responsibility for the Domain Name System is decentralized. It’s a task shared by ICANN, registries, registrars, web hosting companies and ISPs in pursuit of providing a convenient internet experience.
How to find a good domain?
1) It should be short and easy to remember
A good name should be short, precise and easy to remember for your visitors. Long and complex names can be difficult to remember and write correctly.
2) Choose a suitable Top-level domain (TLD)
Choose the right top-level domain (TLD). If you run an international commercial company, a .com TLD might be ideal, whereas a German-based company might be better suited with a .de TLD – or it could be something completely third, there is a sea of options to choose from.
3) Be unique and differentiated
Try to find a name that stands out and differentiates itself from the competition. Avoid using generic or confusing names similar to existing websites.
4) Use relevant keywords
If possible, include some relevant keywords in your name. It can help optimize your visibility in search engines and make it easier for potential visitors to find you.
5) Domain Generator
Although the quality of the generated names can be a bit fluctuating, it can still be a good source of inspiration once in a while. We have our own domain generator, that we are constantly working to improve – if you wish to give it a try you can find it here
Often work by taking keywords or other user input and coming up with new potential names using AI. By giving the generator the input “travel” and “adventure”, a domain generator might generate proposals such as; “adventuretravel.com”, “traveljunkie.com” etc.
6) Expired/Deleted Domains
Another possibility is to look for expired/deleted domains, here you can, without having to make demands on your own creative abilities, be lucky to find names that have been in use before, but are now available. In addition to easing the need for creative expression, there are also a lot of other advantages of expired/deleted domains.
Firstly, you can take advantage of the existing traffic flow and gain a huge advantage in relation to having to build your new online identity. In addition, it may have an established authority in the search engines, which can help improve visibility and ranking in search results.
Another benefit is the potential backlinks. An expired domain may have existing backlinks from other websites, which can be beneficial for your SEO (search engine optimization). These backlinks can also help increase your website’s credibility and search engine visibility (#MakeGoogleHappy).
What can you use a domain for?
1) Company websites
Companies can establish their online presence and present their products, services and information to customers and stakeholders.
2) Blogs and personal websites
Many use them to create personal blogs, portfolio pages or other types of websites where they share their interests, experiences and thoughts with others online.
Whether a company sells yarn, toys for animals or something else entirely – being able to sell your product online through a web shop would be an excellent option to boost your sales
4) News media and publications
Associations, organizations and interest groups can use a website to build online communities, inform members and promote their goals and activities.
5) Educational institutions
Schools, universities and other educational institutions often have websites they use to provide access to course materials and facilitate communication between students and teachers.
6) Web Applications and Services
Web-based applications, online platforms and services that provide various functions and capabilities to users.
How to buy a Domain Name / Website
Acquiring a domain name may seem like a daunting task, but it’s actually a straightforward process.
1) Find a domain name that suits your new Website
Before you do anything else, you should brainstorm your desired domain name. This is an important task as your domain name effectively acts as your brand, and for many also the hardest task, when creating a new website.
2) Check if your domain name is available
After you have a list of potential names, you need to check if the name is available. All domain registrar provides an easy to use search bar to see if a domain name is available – as an alternative, you can also use our Domain Name Analyzing-tool to see if a domain name is available.
3) Pick a domain registrar
There are countless providers out there – from GoDaddy.com, Doman.com, and Namecheap.com, to more boutique options. Each will provide prices, so shop around to see which one suits your needs the most. In reality it doesn’t really matter much with domain registrar you pick – if you are choosing to use one of the more established domain registrars – in the end most of them have VERY similar prices and support.
4) Pick your hosting package and add-ons (Optional)
If you are choosing to have your website hosted the same place that you register your domain name – you now need to figure out what kind of web hosting you want. Most providers, offer a range of different packages – packages suited for websites with a couple of daily users to packages suited for websites with thousand of daily users. A good rule of thumb is that, unless you have an already established website or a well known brand – you most likely will be fine with a starter web hosting package.
During the checkout process, you’ll also be offered additional services like email accounts, privacy protection, and similar. Choose the ones which resonate with your needs.
5) Provide Contact information
Next you’ll be most likely be required to provide detailed contact information for the WHOIS database. For domain privacy, consider using the privacy or proxy services often provided by registrars. If you choose NOT to pay for domain privacy, your contact information will be available to the public – and you will most likely end up getting spammed – so we would strongly suggest that you consider choosing to opt in, for the domain privacy add-on!.
Lastly, make your payment to secure your domain name. If you don’t accidentally want to loose your domain name, you might wanna consider to opt-in for auto-renew
Frequently Asked Questions About Domain Names & Websites
What is a subdomain?
A subdomain is essentially a child domain that resides under the main domain. For instance, a subdomain for website.com could be shop.website.com. Also regarded as third-level domain names, subdomains are quite common. After registering a domain, it is within your purview to create as many subdomains as you wish.
Many websites employ subdomains to set up separate sites under the main domain name. As an example, a commercial website may establish a subdomain for their blog or their ecommerce store, as seen in blog.domain.com or shop.domain.com.
Is it possible to cancel my domain name registration?
Some domain registrars provide the option for domain owners to terminate their domain registration anytime they choose. Upon cancellation, the domain becomes available for others to snap up. Alternatively, some domain name registrars give you the option to just let your domain registration lapse.
Typically, there’s no refund for the domain registration after cancellation, however, some registrars do offer refund policies. It would be advantageous to consult them regarding their policy before proceeding with cancellation. Should you opt not to activate the auto-renew function, your domain name will automatically expire once your paid registration period concludes.
Is it Possible to Transfer My Website to a New Domain Name?
Absolutely! It is possible for you to redirect your domain name to a new domain name – meaning you can have multiple domain names linking to the same webpage.
Can I sell a domain name?
Absolutely, you can monetize your domain name. Domain names are often likened to internet real estate, holding vast potential for profit. The vast demand for robust, impactful, and custom domain names nurtures a multi-million dollar industry. Entrepreneurial minds often engage in domain trading, taking advantage of their inexpensive nature to stockpile names with potential for future profitability. If you are interrested in selling domain names, marketplaces such as Sedo and GoDaddy provide platforms to list your doman, facilitating sales.
It do need to be noted that in some cases, such as with the danish TLD .dk – you are NOT allowed to sell domain names for a profit, and can end in the domain names will be taken away.
What is domain privacy? Do I need it?
As stipulated by ICANN, individuals registering domain names are mandated to provide personal information like phone number, email, and physical address, which is publicly accessible. Domain Privacy, a supplementary service offered by domain registrars, lets you display alternate proxy data instead of your actual confidential details. Buying Domain Privacy isn’t imperative, it remains entirely at your discretion. Nonetheless, if maintaining privacy over your information raises concern, you can avail of this service at a nominal fee.
Is there a Way to Discover the Owner of a Domain Name?
You may utilize the Whois lookup tool such as our Domain Name Analyzing-tool to extract data on domain ownership. But, in cases where domain privacy is engaged, the information displayed will be the proxy data supplied by the registrar.
Can you buy multiple domain name?
Yes, you may buy as many domain names as you like.
Is www a part of domain names?
The World Wide Web, commonly abbreviated as www, was often used to signify a web address in the internet’s infancy. However, today, the majority of websites have dropped the usage of www in their URLs. Essentially, www is perceived as a subdomain of your prime domain name. Any string that comes prior your main domain and is ensued by a dot, like tutorial.wpbeginner.com, is deemed a subdomain. This does not detract from the accessibility of your website, with or without the ‘www’, as long as your domain is configured correctly. Therefore, the necessity of www in a website’s domain name has become a matter of personal preference rather than a compulsory requirement.
What is HTTP and HTTPS?
HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol, which is the technology used to facilitate data access on the Internet. This technology has been overtaken by HTTPS, an acronym for Secure Hypertext Transfer Protocol. HTTPS signifies that a website is utilizing SSL – a secure protocol for transmitting data over the Internet.