A domain name is a bit like your physical address in that it’s how people find you out there on the World Wide Web. That’s why we call the bar at the top of a web browser the address bar – it’s where you enter a domain name to find a website.
If a domain name is like your address then the server your website is hosted on is like the physical building. When you create a website, you set your domain name to point to your server so that if people want to find your website, they can enter your domain name and it’ll take them straight there. Without a domain name, visitors would have to enter the IP address (e.g. 87.249.281.92) of your server.
Pretty much every website that you visit uses a domain name. Google.com is a domain name, for example. Facebook is the name of the website and Facebook.com is their domain name.
Domain names come in all shapes and sizes, but the one thing that they all have in common is that they’re made of two parts – the label (i.e. ‘Yajora’) and the top-level domain (i.e. ‘.com’). A huge variety of top-level domain extensions are available, from country codes (i.e. ‘.co.uk or .de’) to specific codes for sectors like .gov for government organisations and .edu for educational institutions.
On top of that, with over 330 million registered domain names, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which manages the overall architecture of the domain name system, recently recognised the need for a new type of domain name. Because of this, they announced a whole heap of new generic top-level domain extensions (gTLDs), from .bike and .clothing to .guru and .ventures.
The result is that there’s a huge amount of variety out there when it comes to choosing a domain name, but at the same time it can be difficult to find the right one for you or your company. It’s a big decision – and potentially one of the biggest you’ll ever make. And while you can change it later if you need to, it’s usually best not to if you can avoid it.
When you register a domain name from an approved registrar (like Yajora), you effectively secure the rights to use that domain name for a set period of time.
When you’ve registered your domain name, the next step is to point it to the server which hosts your website. Note that it can also take up to 72 hours for any changes you make to propagate, which is a fancy way of saying that different internet providers from around the world take time to update their records.
The good news about owning a domain name is that you’re able to associate it with other services, such as email addresses. You can also create subdomains (i.e. http://subdomain.yourname.com) and set up redirects and forwarders. You can even buy multiple domain names and forward them all to the same website.
Domain names are also interoperable, which means that you’re not usually limited to the provider that you bought from. In the same way that you can change your hosting provider, you can also migrate your domain name.
But your domain name is so much more than that. Often, the reason why people start a website in the first place is so that there’s something they have full control over. When you use social networking sites or free blogging providers, or even if you make a living selling on Amazon and eBay, you’re fully reliant on those other sites. If they change their terms of service or the service goes down completely, you’re in trouble.
When you’ve registered a domain name, though, you don’t have to rely on anyone else. That domain name belongs to you and you alone, and you have full control over what you do with it. You can control any associated email addresses, determine which server the site accesses and even sell it or transfer ownership if that’s what you want to do.
Meanwhile, the status of your domain name has a direct influence on your website’s position in search engine results pages (SERPs). Older domain names tend to take priority over newer ones, and at the core of every search engine is a citation model. This means that they determine how influential your website is based on the influence of the links that point towards it – so if you don’t own your domain name, any links that you earn will be giving their value to someone else.
This is a tricky one with no concrete answer. The good news is that you can register multiple domain names, and so it’s usually a good idea to do that for every domain name that you think of. That way, no matter what happens, you own it.
To get started, you’ll want to use our domain checker so that you can look up the availability of your domain name including each of the popular extensions. As a default, you should start by entering your company name – or, if you’re launching a blog site, the name of the blog. If that’s available as a .com address then the decision is pretty much made for you. Go ahead and register it.
Unfortunately, that’s not always easy because of the sheer number of domain names that have already been registered. You’re unlikely to find a dictionary word as an available .com domain, for example, and so you’ll need to be more creative. This is where that domain checker will come in super useful, because you’ll find yourself entering all sorts of combinations until you find something that’s available.
As a general rule, the best domain names are memorable and easy to spell, and many of the most popular companies named themselves by merging two words together (like YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram, etc.). Try different words in different combinations until you find something that’s available.
While you’re at it, it’s also a good idea to check whether your domain name is available as a username on the most popular social networkings sites. If it is, register there as well, even if the account is only a placeholder. The last thing you want to do is to create a super successful website and to find that your fans and followers have hijacked the username before you could take it.
Finally, remember that you can always buy multiple domain names and point them to the same site. This comes in useful if you’re not sure whether to buy the .com or the .us name, for example, or if you’re worried that people might misspell it. Be creative!
Once you register a domain name, you own that domain for the length of time that you specified, although you can potentially sell it or to transfer ownership to someone else.
The good news, though, is that if you want to buy a new domain name and to use that one instead, that’s not a problem. You’ll simply need to follow the same steps you followed when you purchased your first domain name and point the new name to your webserver.
Finally, while it’s true that you can change your domain name, it’s best not to make a habit of it. After all, the more you use your domain name, the more powerful it becomes. Every time you change it, you lose a bit of the value that you’d worked hard to instill in the old domain name.
This depends upon the nature of your question. When it comes to the domain checker, you don’t need to add www in front of the domains that you search for.
When it comes to how you stylise your URL once you’ve bought it, it comes down to personal choice, although whichever you go with, you should make sure that it’s always consistent. If your website resolves at both http://www.yourname.com and http://yourname.com, it’s effectively treated as two different websites.
Historically, websites included www in front of the domain so that when their URLs were included on packaging, posters and other offline marketing materials, people knew that it was a ‘World Wide Web’ address. Nowadays, though, the internet is so ubiquitous that it’s no longer really necessary to include the www, and many people argue that removing it makes it easier for people to remember web addresses.