What Is a Web Domain? A Beginners Overview…
Getting your first website up and running can be tough. There’s a whole host of technical jargon to sift through. If you’re taking the first tentative steps to creating an online presence, things can quickly get overwhelming.
Take a deep breath and start at the beginning…
Whatever your plans, you’re going to need a domain name before anything else.
But what exactly is a domain name? And how do you go about getting one?
We’ve put together a brief guide to get you started.
A Non Technical Background
A domain name is an easy to remember label that is given to a website. It functions a bit like a house address. We see domain names every day as we travel around the internet.
Whenever you type the name of a website into your browser, such as “TenXBlog.com.com” you’re using the site’s domain name.
Without domain names, we’d all be forced to remember long strings of numbers like 67.349.55.1 every time we wanted to visit a website.
Buying a Domain Name
OK, so you have a very basic idea of how a web domain functions, but how do you go about buying one?
You’ll be pleased to hear that the process is completely non-technical. It’s as simple as adding your chosen domain name into a shopping basket.
There are hundreds of reputable places to buy a domain name. Favourites include GoDaddy, Namecheap and 123 Reg. All of these companies have been trading for over a decade and are very reputable places to buy domain names.
Once you’ve chosen and paid for a domain, these registrars will then go to the “Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers” (ICANN for short) and will register the domain name on your behalf.
When a domain name is registered with ICANN, it has to be submitted with details of the new owner / registrant. If you don’t want that to be your own personal details, or the registered address of your business, then the domain registrar (Namecheap / GoDaddy etc.) will often offer the option to conceal that data, and instead show their details.
This is called registration by proxy, and it’s a great way to keep your personal or business details private and out of the public domain.
Some registrars will offer this service for free, others might charge a small fee (typically just a few dollars for the year).
How Much Does a Domain Name Cost?
All domain names are registered on a yearly basis. So when you pay to register, you’ll have to renew the subscription one year later. This can either be done automatically at the same time each year, or you can pay for a number of years up front.
Some companies offer very low prices for the first year, such as $0.99. This price then returns to normal for the second year onwards.
The standard price of a domain varies between providers. In general, you can expect to pay anything from $10 to $15 per year. in our experience, Namecheap is consistently one of the cheapest providers on this point.
The price difference often accounts for extra features, such as free email addresses and a mailbox. The “ending” (suffix) of the domain often impacts price as well. For example: mywebsite.com will be a different price to mywebsite.co.uk. In general, the “.com” domains will be more expensive than local country-specific domain endings.
The endings (suffixes) are actually known as “TLDs” or “Top Level Domains”. They’re used to indicate groupings of domain names for similar purposes. Historically TLD’s were either geographic or organisation focussed. For example – “.co.uk” and “.fr” are the geographic TLD’s for the United Kingdom and France respectively. The market leader “.com” was originally intended to denote the website of a ‘company’, and “.org” an ‘organisation’ and so forth.
Nowadays, we also have an every growing range of new TLD’s entering the domain name marketplace. “.shop”, “.adult”, and “.help” are good examples of these.
Choose the Right Ending
If you’ve already done some research, you’ve probably started to notice a trend – a lot of domains have already been taken and registered.
The internet has been around for a very long time, and many catchy domain names were snapped up years ago. This is especially true for classic .com endings.
It’s much easier to find region specific domains, i.e. names ending in .co.uk, or .uk are perfectly acceptable and even preferential for UK businesses.
Recently, a whole host of new endings were added to the register, so if you’re prepared to use a less orthodox ending for your domain, you’ll find it much easier to get a perfect match.
Don’t let the naysayers put you off – new endings like .coffee or .design are every bit as professional as the traditional extensions and won’t penalise your site in Google search results.
Choosing a domain name for your personal website or business can be tough. However with a little determination and a selection of new offerings on the market, you’re sure to find something to suit your needs.