What is a Domain Name?

Together with web hosting and a content management system, domain names are fundamental to starting your own website.  This article discusses domain names, and the differences between domain types.  Read on to discover which domain name is right for your site.

What are Domain Names?

Put simply a domain name is the name of your website.  For example if you called your site applejuice.com, that is your domain name.  There are two factors that you may want to consider when choosing a name for your site:

  • The site name should be easy to remember, and if possible catchy.  Applejuice.com for a site selling or talking about apple juice is perfect.  It’s easy to remember, catchy, and fairly short.  It also describes what the site is about.

If the same business or organisation had called itself freshsharp.com, this would not be as effective.  However if your company provides a range of different products or services, opting for a domain name with the company name would be suitable.

  • Search engine optimisation is influenced by your domain name.  So should your domain name be descriptive, then your site is more likely to do well on search engines.  In our above example, applejuice.com is a far better name for a company selling apple juice than freshsharp.com. At least from a search engine optimisation (SEO) perspective.

Top Level Domains

Another aspect to take into account is the top level domain (TLD).  The TLD is refers to the last three letters of the domain name.  i.e. .com, .org .edu.

Here is a brief list of the more common TLDs.  Not all of them will be available to you.  Domains that can be owned by anyone are called open domains.

  • .com (Commercial) – This is primarily used for most businesses. This domain is an open domain.
  • .org (Organisation) – This TLD was designed for not for profit entities such as charities. Most charities and not for profit organisations use .org.  It is an open domain.
  • .net (Network) – This is often used by people who make sites for their own, non commercial purpose. It is cheaper to buy than other TLDs and is also an open domain.
  • .edu (Educational) – This TLD is limited to educational establishment such as colleges, schools, and universities.
  • .gov (Government) – This TLD is limited to government entities only

Country Specific Top Level Domains

As well as TLDs describing the structure of an organisation, there are also country specific TLDs.

For example .co.uk, represents British commercial sites, while .mt represents Malta. It’s important to note that some countries require the domain name owner to have a presence in the country.  This varies from country to country.

Choosing a TLD

In many respects this is dictated by the purpose of your website and target audience.  If you are planning to sell commercial goods to people in the Netherlands, it could well be prudent to use the .nl domain name.  While a discussion group about climate change could be better served by a .org or .net TLD.

Buying a Domain Name

There are specific sites which sell domain names.  Once a domain name is bought it is registered to you.  The price of the domain name is determined by the TLD, and if someone else has bought it first.  If they have you might be able to buy it from them, but this will probably be at considerable cost.

If you have questions about domain names, or you are interested to purchase one, please get in touch.