What is a domain name: This is what I know!

By William Cuva / August 23, 2017
What is a Domain

A domain name is a name that you type in your web address bar that takes you to a page or website on the Internet highway.  In this post, I will discuss a little bit about what a domain is, how they work and how to register a domain name

Can you imagine having to remember 232.71.34.21 to find that website that sells those hiking boots that you have been interested in buying?  

More...

REI's Hiking Boots

 I’m glad that domains are human-friendly and they are used instead of long strings of numbers to find different websites.  A domain is paired with an Internet Protocol Address, such as 232.71.34.21.  The domain hides the technical IP address. 

These numbers are uniquely assigned to every computer on the Internet.  Better yet, the IP Address is comparable to a street address, which identifies where a computer is located on the Internet.  The domain functions as a unique link to the IP address.   

The DNS (Domain Name System) is the naming system that gives every server a memorable Internet address, such as www.vegasdomainer.vegas and translates them into IP addresses that computers need to communicate.  

As stated before, I can type in www.vegasdomainer.vegas, instead of 232.71.34.21 which is much easier than memorizing a long string of numbers, right?  So to get a tad technical, if I were to enter www.vegasdomainer.vegas into a web browser, the browser uses that name to find the right IP address and returns www.vegasdomainer.vegas which is associated with the correct IP address.  

Wow, just the thought of having to remember those numbers makes my brain hurt! 

Nevertheless, the domain name found to the left side of the dot which is also a combination of letters/and or numbers is called the second-level domain name.  The second level domain  is that part of the address that organizations, groups or entities use to distinguish themselves from other entities on the Internet.

Next to the right of the dot, you have the top level domain or extension like .vegas.  As you may have noticed, periods separate levels of the domain.  Also, the second level domain can be used in any combination with the new plethora of gtlds, such as .vegas, .club, .xyz, and much more.  As in our case, “.vegas” is what is called a new gTLD(New Generic Top Level Domain). These new TLDs offer you a second chance to get creative with naming your brand.

The Strip


The top hat TLDs in the online world are .com, .org, .net and so forth.  Every domain name has a suffix that indicates which top level domain or TLD it represents. 

The third level of the domain is “www” in some cases; you may notice that “www” is left out of the equation.  

Here is the breakdown of domain name components:

GTLD: .vegas
Second Level: Vegasdomainer
Third: WWW or no WWW

So who regulates domain names?

Second level domains have to be unique on the Internet and registered with an ICANN accredited registrar.  Who is ICANN?  I’m glad that you asked that question.  ICANN stands for Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. 

 ICANN organizes the links between IP addresses and domain names throughout the Internet. Whew, if it weren’t for them, then I’d have to remember 232.71.34.21 to find those hiking books.  ICANN, thank you!

So what type of domain name should I purchase?

Well, it all depends on what you are trying to accomplish?  You want your name to be unique to you and also stand out.  Is this name for a hobby, business website, etc.? If so it is important to keep the  name relevant to the topic of your website. 

Your name becomes your online brand, and it is a portal to your company’s products or services storefront.  Your goal is to get visitors to your site and by keeping your name relevant and easy to remember this is how your customers or visitors will get to know and remember your website.  

You have options when you are in the brainstorming process of thinking about a domain for your business/hobby.  You can go with the keyword in the domain, the brandable route or other methods of your choosing. 

Let’s start with the keyword route

As far as using keywords it is ideal for SEO purposes.  If a keyword is in your websites name, your visitors will know what your site is briefly about and what to expect from your site.  

For instance, if you had a domain called SuperiorPlumbing.Vegas, visitors, should instantly know that you are a plumbing company or you have some affiliation with the plumbing industry.  You have many different combinations that you can use, the important thing to accomplish is to get your niche specific keywords into your domain name if you have that option.

Brandable Domain Names
Now having said all of that a good portion of the largest websites have branded domains. The brandable route is one where you establish a new brand.  Examples include Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, etc.  A good brandable domain name helps you maintain repeat visitors.

Keep your name short and to the point!

So now that you have a general sense of what a domain is you should also know that the shorter the domain, the better! In the domaining world, the fewer characters that people need to type or remember, the better it is for the user's experience!  Aim for 6 to 14 characters for your domains. 

According to research from Gaebler.com, a magazine for entrepreneurs, the top-5 websites have approximately 6 characters in their domain name.  And in the top 100 websites, the longest domain is 17 characters.

Average length of domain names

Source: Gaebler.com

Nevertheless, think about the future. Your domain is your investment.  You do not want to set yourself up for failure with a bad investment, and the same holds true with your domain name.

Your goal is to get the best use out of your investment.  That’s why on the one hand, you should think about how Search Engine Optimization will play a role with your domain name through the relevancy factor cooperating with the theme of your website.  If your site is focused on a niche area, it is a good idea to consider the keyword somewhere in your name. 

Your search listings will benefit from the keywords and guide Google to the relevancy factor of your website. 

Higher Visibility conducted a study, and the research showed that including a keyword in a website domain name has a widespread impact on SEO

Keywords in Domain Name URL

Source: HigherVisibility.com

In general, search engines do credit you for the keywords in your name, and that’s primarily so your customers/visitors can find you by the name of your business. 

You will discover that being consistent and persistent is a fundamental component in getting your website or any website for that matter to the top of the SERPs(Search Engine Results Pages) for competitive, highly searched for keyword phrases.

Equally important, when you are in the brainstorming mode in regards to your future domain name, you should consider the length of your name.  The domain should be short, easy for people to spell, pronounce and remember.  

You want these names short and to the point, because you’ll begin to notice that a good percentage of your visitors will come to your website through the realm of type-in traffic.

According to James Stevens, CEO of Names.of.London "Direct traffic is the most valuable traffic.  It's twice as valuable, in terms of sales, than then next best. 4.23% of Direct traffic will result in a sale. The next best is Search traffic generating 2.30% sales and the least valuable is Referral traffic at 0.96%.  The higher value of Direct traffic is helped by the fact that these are more likely to be visits from existing customers, therefore they are more likely to purchase.”


Let’s play with a scenario in regards to type-in traffic.   If you decide to visit a store that was a one stop shop for products, such as Walmart’s website what would you type in your address bar?  Walmart, correct?  

Now imagine if Walmart’s domain was
“youronestopshopforthebestproducts.com” Would you type that into your address bar? I think not! Why? BECAUSE IT’S TOO LONG! Let’s turn this into dollars with this scenario. 

If 100,000 people do not type in "youronestopshopforthebestproducts.com"  to reach your website what would happen? “YOUR ONE STOP SHOP FOR THE BEST PRODUCTS” just lost 100,000 type-in traffic and potential revenue.  

However, if the name were shortened to Walmart.com like it is now, then people would find it easier to remember and type in the domain name. 100,000 people equal potential revenue.

With that being said, I will repeat - you should choose a domain that is short, easy for people to spell, pronounce and remember.

Quick tips for selecting your domain name

Easy to remember
Make it easy to pronounce
Easy to spell
Brandable
Keep the name short
Your domain should be meaningful and descriptive of your business or industry
Keywords in the domain name
Avoid the use of numbers in the name

 Well, how do I register a domain name?

The first thing that you need to do and I keep harping on this point, and that is you should make sure that the domain that you are registering represents your site's theme.  Once you have found a name that is suitable, you can then proceed to register your domain.  

Don't worry if the name that you want is gone.  If you don’t find a name suitable for your needs, the registrar will suggest possible alternate names that can be helpful for the theme of your website.

Your registrar will allow you to register your domain for either a short or long term,  based on your specifications.  The cost to register your domain will vary between the different registrars.  BestCompany.Com has a compiled a list of the best registrars of 2017


Name Cheap's Homepage

Let me clear something up; you don’t own domain names, let’s think of this as a lease of the domain name for a specified period. You can register a domain and lease it from 1yr to up to 10yrs. You have an exclusive right to use that domain for as long as you keep the domain registered in your name.

The registrar in most cases will send out a notice months in advance when the domain is getting close to expiring. 

Do note that if you do not renew a domain at the end of its registration period, it will become available for registration by anyone who finds and wants the name.  To avoid this hiccup, you can have your account set to auto renew your domains.

Tips for selecting the right registrar

Check with the BBB to see if there have been any negative reports or complaints from customers.


Check the registrar's customer support system: Check that it has a working phone number, an online ticketing system, a chat system and an email system for customers. Hey, you never know when a question or issue may arise. It’s best to have a peace of mind knowing that you can get help for your issues.

Let me clear something up; you don’t own domain names, let’s think of this as a lease of the domain name for a specified period of time. You can register a domain and lease it from 1yr to up to 10yrs. You have an exclusive right to use that domain for as long as you keep the domain registered in your name.

What is the purpose of a domain name?(H1)


A domain name is a name that you type in your address bar that takes you to a page or website on the Internet highway

.

 A domain name is paired with an Internet Protocol Address, such as 232.71.34.21. The domain hides the technical IP address.  These numbers are uniquely assigned to every computer on the Internet. Better yet, the IP Address is comparable to a street address, which identifies where a computer is located on the Internet.  The domain functions as a unique link to the IP address. 


I’m glad that domains are human-friendly and they are used instead of those long string of numbers to find different websites. Can you imagine having to remember a long string of numbers to find that website that sells those hiking boots(link to radio article) that you have been interested in buying?




The domain name system gives every server a memorable Internet address, such as www.vegasdomainer.vegas and translates them into IP addresses that computers need to communicate. As stated before, I can type in www.vegasdomainer.vegas, instead of 232.71.34.21which is much easier than memorizing a long string of numbers, right? So to get a tad technical, if I were to enter www.vegasdomainer.vegas into a web browser, the browser uses that domain name to find the right IP address and returns www.vegasdomainer.vegas which is associated with the correct IP address.  


To better understand, the DNS(Domain Name System) is the naming system giving addresses to web servers and web pages. 

The domain name found to the left side of the dot (note I can go SLD on top of vegasdomainer in my post so that vegasdomainer sticks out in the example)(vegasdomainer.vegas), which is also a combination of letters/and or numbers is called the second-level domain name. The second level domain name is that part of the address that organizations, groups or entities use to distinguish themselves from or entities on the Internet.


Moving along, next to the right of the dot you have the top level domain or extension like .vegas. As you may have noticed, levels of domains are separated by periods(dots).  Also, the second level domain can be used in any combination with the new plethora of gtlds, such as .vegas, .club, .xyz, and much more.  As in our case, “.vegas” is what is called a new gTLD(New Generic Top Level Domain). These new TLDs offer you a second chance to get creative with naming your brand.




As you may know, the top hat TLDs in the online world are .com, .org, .net and so forth.  Every domain name has a suffix that indicates which top level domain or TLD it represents. 


The third level of the domain is “www” in some cases; you may notice that “www” is left out of the equation.  


Here is the breakdown of domain name components:


GTLD: .vegas

Second Level: Vegasdomainer

Third: WWW or no WWW


So who regulates domain names?(H2)


Second level domain names have to be unique on the Internet and registered with an ICANN accredited registrar. Who is ICANN? I’m glad that you asked that question. ICANN stands for Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers organizes the links between IP addresses and domain names throughout the Internet. (   more info  ) Whew, if it weren’t for them, then I’d have to remember 12345678010 to find those hiking books. ICANN, thank you!


So what type of domain name should I purchase?


Well, it all depends on what you are trying to accomplish? You want your domain name to be unique to you and also stand out. Is this name for a hobby, business website, etc.? If so it is important to keep the domain name relevant to the topic of your website. 


Your domain name becomes your online brand, and it is a portal to your company’s products or services storefront.  Your goal is to get visitors to your site and by keeping your name

relevant and easy to remember this is how your customers or visitors will get to know and remember your website.  


You have options when you are in the brainstorming process of thinking about domain names for your business/hobby. You can go with the keyword in the domain, the brandable route or other methods of your choosing. 


Let’s start with the keyword route


As far as using keywords it is ideal for SEO purposes.  If a keyword is in your websites domain name, your visitors will know what your site is briefly about and what to expect from your site.  


For instance, if you had a domain called BluePlumbingServices.Vegas, visitors, should instantly know that you are a plumbing company or you have some affiliation with the plumbing industry. You have many different combinations that you can use, the important thing to accomplish is to get your niche specific keywords into your domain name if you have that option.



Brandable Domain Names(I need to elaborate on brandable and give an example)


Now having said all that a good portion of the largest websites have branded domains. The brandable route is one where you establish a new brand. Examples include Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, etc.  A good brandable domain name helps get you more repeat visitors if you have a good website and you are offering products/services that are beneficial to your customers/visitors. 



So now that you have a general sense of what a domain is you should also know that the shorter the domain, the better! In the domaining world, the fewer characters that people need to type or remember, the better it is for the user's experience!  Aim for 6 to 14 characters for your domains. 


According to research from Gaebler.com, a magazine for entrepreneurs, the top-5 websites have approximately 6 characters in their domain name. ( http://www.gaebler.com/Domain-Length-Research.htm) Graph

And in the top 100 websites, the longest domain is 17 characters.



Nevertheless, think about the future. Your domain is your investment. You don’t want to set yourself up for failure with a bad investment, and the same holds true with your domain name. Your goal is to get the best use out of your investment. That’s why on the one hand you should think about how Search Engine Optimization will play a role with your domain name through the relevancy factor cooperating with the theme of your website and the keywords within that theme that you target.  You should try and get a domain that has the keywords that you target. Your search listings will benefit from the keywords and guide Google to the relevancy factor of your website. 


As a result, if your site is focused on a niche area, it is a good idea to consider the keyword somewhere in your domain name.

A study was conducted by HigherVisibility, and the research showed that including a keyword in a website domain name has a widespread impact on SEO: Insert Graph - https://www.highervisibility.com/resource/research/how-valuable-is-it-to-have-a-keyword-in-your-domain-url/ Adam Heitzman  (Source HigherVisibility.com)


In general, search engines do credit you for the keywords in your domain name, and that’s primarily so your customers/visitors can find you by the name of your business. You will discover that being consistent and persistent is a fundamental component in getting your website or any website for that matter to the top of the SERPs(Search Engine Results Pages) for competitive, highly searched for keyword phrases.



Nevertheless, when you are in the brainstorming mode of domain names, you should consider the length of your domain name. The domain name should be short, easy for people to remember, spell and pronounce. You’ll find that a good percentage of your visitors will come through the realm of type-in traffic.  According to James Stevens finding from his research done by WebSideStory(PUT THIS IN A CONTAINER BOX) Direct traffic is the most valuable traffic. It's twice as valuable, in terms of sales, than then next best. 4.23% of Direct traffic will result in a sale. The next best is Search traffic generating 2.30% sales and the least valuable is Referral traffic at 0.96% - https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/myth-mystery-domain-type-in-traffic-james-stevens?trk=mp-reader-card




Nevertheless, let’s play with a scenario about type-in traffic, If you decide to visit a store that was a one stop shop for products, such as Walmart’s website what would you type in your address bar? Walmart, correct? Now imagine if Walmart’s domain was “youronestopshopforthebestproducts.com” Would you type that into your address bar? I think not! Why? BECAUSE IT’S TOO LONG! Let’s turn this into dollars with this scenario. 


If 100,000 people do not type in the above name to reach the website what would happen? “YOUR ONE STOP SHOP FOR THE BEST PRODUCTS” just lost 100,000 type-in traffic and potential revenue. (However) if the name were shortened to Walmart.com like it is now, then people would find it easier to remember and type in the domain name. 100,000 people equal potential revenue.


With that being said, I will repeat - you should choose a domain name that is short, easy for people to remember, spell and pronounce. Your domain name should pass the radio test.



Well, how do I register a domain name?


You will go through a registrar, which is a service provider that allows you to register and buy your domain for either a short term or long term period based on your specifications. The cost to register your domain will vary between the different registrars.  BestCompany.Com has a compiled a list of the best registrars of 2017(https://bestcompany.com/domain-registrars?page=1)


Let me clear something up; you don’t own domain names, let’s think of this as a lease of the domain name for a specified period of time. You can register a domain and lease it from 1yr to up to 10yrs. You have an exclusive right to use that domain for as long as you keep the domain registered in your name.


Don’t worry about the 10yr mark because you have the option to renew your registration(lease) when it is getting close to expiring. The registrar in most cases will send out a notice months in advance. Do note that if you do not renew a domain at the end of its registration period, it will become available for registration by anyone who finds and wants the name. To avoid this hiccup if that’s what you want to call it you can have your account set to auto renew your domains.


The first thing that you need to do and I keep harping on this point and that is you should make sure that the domain that you are registering represents your site's theme. 


Although true, if the name that you want is gone, most domain registrars will offer domain name suggestions.  If you don’t find a name suitable for your needs the registrar suggestions will at least give you an idea to look for alternate names that can be helpful for the theme of your website.


Nevertheless, once you have found a domain name that is suitable you can then proceed to register your domain name.  


Quick tips for selecting your domain name


Easy to remember

Make it easy to pronounce

Easy to spell

Brandable

Keep the domain name short

Your domain name should be meaningful and descriptive of your business or industry.

Keywords in the domain name

Avoid the use of numbers in the domain name


Tips for selecting the right registrar


If you think about it choosing a domain registrar is like choosing any business that you will have some form of monetary exchange.  You have to be aware of their terms of service so that you know what to expect with that particular business(Elaborate)


Check the registrar's contact info which should be easy to find so that you know their legal name, phone number, and address. You may also need help in setting up your domain and having 24/7 customer support assisting you with your domain name will make the process much easier. 

Check with the BBB to see if there have been any negative reports or complaints from customers

Check the registrar's customer support system: Check that it has a working phone number, an online ticketing system, a chat system and an email system for customers. Hey, you never know when a question or issue may arise. It’s best to have a peace of mind knowing that you can get help for your issues. 

Check what other services that the registrar offers: Some of the registrars offer web hosting, easy website builders, and other helpful services. 

Check online forums: Some forums rank domain name companies so that you have some beneficial information that will help you in your deciding process of which registrar to register your domains. 

Check and make sure that the registrar is accredited by ICANN(Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. ICANN will guarantee that the registrar is a legal entity and your domain name will be put to good use. 

Check and see that you have the option to transfer your domain to another registrar and if so are there any fees associated with the transaction.

Check about their renewal notification process: When will they send you your renewal notification? Do they offer auto renewal for your domains? You want to make sure that they have your correct contact details so that they can inform you of your domain renewals.



So you have a lot to consider when you begin the brainstorming process of your domain name.

Check the registrar's contact info which should be easy to find so that you know their legal name, phone number, and address.  You may need help in setting up your domain and having 24/7 customer support assisting you with your domain name will make the process much easier.
Check with the BBB to see if there have been any negative reports or complaints from customers.
Check the registrar's customer support system: make sure that it has a working phone number, an online ticketing system, a chat system and an email system for customers. Hey, you never know when a question or issue may arise.  It’s best to have a peace of mind knowing that you can receive help with any issues that may occur. 

Check what other services that the registrar offers: some of the registrars offer web hosting, easy website builders, and other helpful services. 
Check online forums: some forums rank domain name companies so that you have some beneficial information that will help you in your deciding process of which registrar to register your domains.
Check and make sure that the registrar is accredited by ICANN(Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. ICANN will guarantee that the registrar is a legal entity. 

Check and see that you have the option to transfer your domain to another registrar and if so are there any fees associated with the transaction.
Check about their renewal notification process: when will they send you your renewal notification? Do they offer auto renewal for your domains? You want to make sure that they have your correct contact details so that they can inform you of your domain renewals.

If you think about it choosing a domain registrar is like choosing any business that offers a service for your convenience.  Therefore, you have to be aware of their terms of service so that you know what to expect with that particular business.

So you have a lot to consider when you begin the brainstorming process for your domain name.  

In this post, we covered the basics of what a domain is, how they work and registering a domain name. Domains are a necessity if you want to have an online presence and create a great impression to your customers or visitors.

Finally, domains are an easier more efficient way for users to search for things on the Internet. Therefore, discovering the best name depends on the name of your company, its profile, services that your business provides and other various factors.

In this post, we covered the basics of what a domain is, how they work and how to register a domain name.  Domain names are a necessity if you want to have an online presence.   I avoided complicated computer terms and hopefully stuck to an explanation that should have been easily understood by someone like me who doesn’t have a computer science degree.

Check the registrar's contact info which should be easy to find so that you know their legal name, phone number, and address. You may also need help in setting up your domain and having 24/7 customer support assisting you with your domain name will make the process much easier. 


Check with the BBB to see if there have been any negative reports or complaints from customers.


Check the registrar's customer support system: Check that it has a working phone number, an online ticketing system, a chat system and an email system for customers. Hey, you never know when a question or issue may arise. It’s best to have a peace of mind knowing that you can get help for your issues. 


Check what other services that the registrar offers: Some of the registrars offer web hosting, easy website builders, and other helpful services. 

Check online forums: Some forums rank domain name companies so that you have some beneficial information that will help you in your deciding process of which registrar to register your domains. 

Check and make sure that the registrar is accredited by ICANN(Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. ICANN will guarantee that the registrar is a legal entity and your domain name will be put to good use. 

Check and see that you have the option to transfer your domain to another registrar and if so are there any fees associated with the transaction.

Check about their renewal notification process: When will they send you your renewal notification? Do they offer auto renewal for your domains? You want to make sure that they have your correct contact details so that they can inform you of your domain renewals.