Domain Names 101

banner

Domain.  Web address.  URL.  That thing you type in that starts with ‘www’.

These terms are often used interchangeably, but when it comes to getting people to your website, it starts with the domain.  In the eyes of the internet, the domain is the name of your website.

Google.com

Wikipedia.org

Radiatedigital.com

When someone says ‘domain’ or ‘domain name’, this is what they’re referring to.  Another term you may hear associated with domain is DNS which stands for Domain Name System.  For the sake of keeping this post as simple as possible, we won’t get into that today.

Here are the three things you need to know about domains.

1. They must be unique.  

Much like the Highlander, there can only be one Google.com

2. They must be registered.  

How else would domain names be tracked?

3. They must be hosted.

Domain hosting is different from website hosting.  Website hosting is where all your sites content, pictures, code, etc. are stored.  Your domain is separate and must be hosted somewhere that does domain hosting.

highlandertherecanonlybeone

How You Create and Manage a Domain

It starts with choosing a name.  Seeing as there are around 200 million registered domains, finding one that you like and works for your brand can be tricky.  Like I said, they have to be unique, so if someone has the domain you want, you can either attempt to buy it from them or come up with something else.

It’s worth mentioning that .com, .org, etc. all indicate different domain names.  So puppies.com and puppies.org are two different domain names.

How do you find what domains are taken and available?

Any domain hosting site will be able to tell you if a domain name is available or not.  Usually, if the domain you want is taken, websites will suggest similar domain names that are available.  Finding the domain that works best for you can be a little tricky, but with a little creativity, you can usually come up with something.

Once you find an available domain you like, you purchase it and register it to your name.  Generally, the purchasing includes a year of domain hosting.

How much does a domain cost?

Most domains will run you $7-$15 a year to buy and host.  If you’re purchasing a previously registered domain from someone else, they can get very costly.  The domain vacationrentals.com sold for $35 million in 2007!

But you probably won’t be making deals like that so…

What happens once I buy a domain?

Once you have your domain, it’s yours to use as you wish.  If you’ve had a website built, your domain needs to be pointed at the servers your website is hosted on.  This is a step we usually take care of for our clients.

Whatever you do, just don’t let your domain expire.  Seriously.

DO NOT LET YOUR DOMAIN EXPIRE!

Like I said, domains have to be hosted.  That means an ongoing hosting fee has to be paid for them.  If this hosting isn’t renewed or the payment is missed, you can lose your domain, and it can be sold to someone else.

Where can I buy a domain?

There are a lot of websites that offer domain registration and hosting services.  The most popular would probably be GoDaddy.com, and personally, that’s the one we recommend to everyone.

Why do we recommend GoDaddy?  Because we have never had an issue domains hosted on GoDaddy, and we have handled a lot of domains in our day.

They’re cheap, efficient, helpful,  and they do a great job of reminding you when your domain is coming up for renewal.  It’s who we use for all of our domains, and it’s who we suggest for all of our clients.

Domain Management Services

To keep things simple, we offer domain management to our clients.  What does that mean?  The domain is still registered in their name, and they still still pay for the hosting.

However, we make sure the domain is working, that it’s pointing where it should, and most importantly, that it gets renewed on time.

We’ve ran into a lot of issues of clients’ sites going down because they didn’t renew their domain or because it was attached to an expired credit card.  Recently, we even had a case where the service that hosted a client’s domain was discontinued, and they were no longer able to access it.

In other words, they had no idea where their domain was.

That’s why (among other reasons) we offer to manage domains.

What if my domain is already hosted somewhere?

If you already have your domain hosted somewhere and would like us to manage it for you, it can easily be transferred.

Closing Thoughts on Domains

Your domain is a big deal.  It’s not only your business’s address in the world wide web, but it’s also the name people identify with you.

So choose a good one.  And don’t lose track of it.

Do you have any further questions about domains?  Please share them below and we’ll answer them!

Written by Timothy Snyder
on June 10, 2014