what is a domain name

What is a Domain Name?

Judy VedderWebsite Design, Website Hosting

Getting a Domain Name should be one of your first steps in establishing an internet presence for you your business. A domain name must be unique much like a mailing address must be unique. A mailing address is made up of a combination of street, city, and state and this allows letters and packages from anywhere in the world to be deliver to you and only you and a domain name serves the same purpose on the internet. A domain name is made up of at least a top-level and a second-level domain. My website’s domain name is webimagedesigns.com and the “com”, the portion to the right of the “.” Is the top-level domain (often referred to as the extension) and “webimagedesigns”, the portion the left of the “.” is the second-level domain. It is the combination of the top-level and second-level domain that creates the unique domain name. so webimagedesigns. net is a completely different domain name than webimagedesigns.com and could take you to a different website. To make sure that my clients do not accidently end up on the wrong website I have purchased both webimagedesigns.com and webimagedesigns.net and I point both domains to my website. This is an important point of clarification – the domain name is unique but multiple domain names can point to the same website.

For each domain name there is a domain name server (DNS) zone file that points to the Internet Protocol (IP) address of the physical server where the website is hosted . An IP address is a series of numbers and dots (xxx.xxx.xxx.xx) that identifies a server on the internet. This server is usually referred to as your web host server  and your website’s files are physically on this server. A DNS is a directory that links your domain name with an IP number. Domain Servers are spread across the internet and they are continuously synchronized with one another to reflect new and updated information. This process can take between 12-36 hours. As a result anyone from anywhere in the world (with open access to the internet) can simply enter your domain name into a browser to find you web site – now that is pretty amazing!

Now you know what a domain name is and how it “finds” your website, how do you pick the perfect domain name?

When selecting the second-level domain you may decide to put several words together, but be mindful of what the combined letters may spell. Pen Island or Therapist Finder may both sound like fine domain names until you combine the letters and then you end up with penisland.net or therapistfinder.com – I am sure if you look close enough you will see why both of these are bad choices for domain names.

The full list of available top-level domains can be found at ICANN’s List of Top-Level Domains.  The most common unrestricted top-level domains are .com commercial, .org organizations, .net Originally intended for use by domains pointing to a distributed network of computers, or “umbrella” sites that act as the portal to a set of smaller websites and .info information.

I recommend researching the full domain name (top-level and second-level) for at least .com, .org, .net and .info and see what website, if any, is associated with the domain name. If any of these domain names brings up a website that could confuse or be offensive to people who are looking for your website then you may want to look for a different domain name. If no website is exists for any of the domain names you may want to consider buying multiple top-level domains with your second-level domain to reduce the possibility of clients becoming confused or offended in the future.

Domain names can be purchased from many places. Web Image Designs is a reseller of domain names and you can purchase a domain name through us at by clicking here.

Domain names can be purchased for one or more years, but it is critical to renew your domain name at the end of that period of time. Failure to do so can result in you “loosing” the domain name, meaning that it could be purchased by someone else. If this was to happened then your website would no longer be available on the internet with that domain name.

If you have questions about domain names please contact Web Image Designs at 774-275-0391 and we would be happy to assist you.