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What is a Domain Name?

What is a Domain Name?

Domain names can be words, letters, numbers or phrases that are followed by “.com”, “.net”, “.org”, or some other extension.

Fact Frenzy takes on the question: “What is a Domain Name?”

If you’re considering starting a website, probably the first — and most important — thing to consider is a domain name.

We’ll focus on 2 things: what is a domain name, and how it works.

A domain name is essentially what your website is going to be called. This is the name users will type in the address bar of their browser, followed by a suffix such as .com, .net, .org, and so on.

Many people just refer to this as the website’s “address”. If you didn’t know that a website address is actually called a domain name, don’t feel left out. Most people who know what a domain name is usually hase an interest at stake in a website, or are “webmasters” (someone in charge of the design and maintenance of a website).

Domain names make it easy to remember and locate a website. The domain name of the website of this article is factfrenzy.com. You may notice this was typed in lower caps, but the truth is, it doesn’t matter. Domain names are not case sensitive. Therefore you could type the name in all capital letters, and you would still wind up at the same place.

Why is it called a domain name? Because it refers to the “domain” that the website is located. All of the components of a website — the pages, the pictures, and images and other files — are all located on a computer, called a “host”. The host is generally a secure server that is connected to the internet at all times, so that anyone can access the website night and day.

Without a domain name, we would have to access the website by typing in its IP address. So instead of typing in factfrenzy.com, or example.com, we would have to type in an address that looks something like this: (a non-working example of an IP format).

As you can see, remembering a domain name like “Amazon.com” is much easier than remember a series of numbers.

Domain names are limited, however, and are registered usually on a yearly basis. Anyone can register a domain name, whether they have a website or not. The selection and registration of a domain name is usually the first step in the creation of a website. Domain names are registered through an ICANN-approved registrar.

People don’t necessarily have to renew their domain every year. Some registrars  offer the ability to register a domain up to 10 years at a time.

Domain names are registered on a first-come, first-serve basis. The domain you’ve been thinking about registering may be available, but chances are if it’s a common word or a popular short phrase, it may already be taken. To get around this, people have been coming up with new variations of words, and invented words to register domains.

Sometimes, this can lead to a new, popular brand name. After all, it wasn’t long ago that not many people had ever heard of the word, “Google”. In a relatively short time, Google.com is known in almost every household.

Believe it or not, website addresses aren’t the only things domain names are used for. Domain names have been purchased and sold as virtual real estate. Some domains have been auctioned for millions of dollars. Usually, this is after a period of time when the domain has been branded and marketed for a while.

At the same time, many one-word domains that are correctly spelled and found in the dictionary can also fetch a hefty price. That’s because they are highly sought after by big companies. After all, they are easy to remember, and may also be the specific product that company sells. They are also rare, as most of them have been registered for quite some time.

In essence, the shorter the domain name, the better. Companies with longer names often choose to abbreviate (i.e., 3mdc.com, the website of Morris Decorative Concrete), to reduce the amount of typing and the chance of mispelling misspelling.

A person that registers a domain name for the intention of holding it for a while, without any immediate intentions of developing a website, is referred to as a “squatter” in the web industry. Usually their intentions are what was described above — waiting for the right offer to come along.

Other common situations are that the person (or company) had an idea for a domain name, and seized the opportunity to register it before anyone else did — and they may actually have plans on building a website for it down the road. Sometimes they’re taking their time building it, waiting until their ‘masterpiece’ is ready to be unveiled to the world wide web.

It’s especially worth noting, that domain names ending with .com (as opposed to .net, .info, .org, etc.) are by far the most coveted, as they are the easiest to remember. However the popularity of the other suffixes are gaining, especially as organizations and companies market their uniqueness. One example that demonstrates this, as many children can easily tell you, would be pbskids.org.

A rule of thumb to remember: once you’ve found a domain name that works for you, be sure to stay current in keeping it registered. As a domain name registrant, no one can register the domain ‘out from under you’, as long as you don’t allow the domain to expire.

Once a domain name expires, it then becomes available to be registered again, and can then be registered by anyone.

– Fact Frenzy

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