What is a domain name and why is it important?

Domain names are an integral part of the World Wide Web. Without domain names we would have to input IP addresses or complicated number formations to reach a website (can you imagine typing in and trying to remember for example instead of typing http://www.google.co.uk into your web browser address bar?).

The initial concept for the DNS system was created in 1985 and since then it has become the standard method of identification for websites.

A domain name or URL (unique resource locator) is made up of several parts – the protocol, subdomain, domain and top-level domain. If we look at the example of http://www.google.com – http:// is the protocol (Hypertext Transfer Protocol), www. is the subdomain, google is the domain, and .com is the top-level domain.

Each part of the domain name helps the web browser identify the relevant information path to access the website files and display information to the browser user. A domain name translates to a physical storage address such as a web server where a websites files are stored on and retrieved when a user types in the domain name.

Users can register domain names with hosting companies such as GoDaddy and Web.com. The usual process is to purchase a domain for a minimum of 1 year, and then you have ownership of that domain and can use it for your website and email.

To do so, you would have to connect your domain to your web hosting plan and the email service provider you wish to use. A web hosting plan without a functioning domain name is a of little use. You can install and configure WordPress or Joomla, build a gorgeous site but practically nobody will be able to see it, as your site would not have a valid web address.

As time has progressed, many new top level domains were released – originally there were just seven TLDs: .com, .org, .net, .int, .edu, .gov and .mil. As the web expanded, however, other domain extensions were released and we now have a plethora of specific domain extensions that serve a variety of purposes such as .biz, .college, .game and .info. Although .com remains the most popular top-level domain, other TLDs are seeing an increase in usage.

Certain domain names will cost more due to their unique identifier such as LasVegas.com, for example, which was sold for a whopping $90 million in 2005! The infographic below provides some fascinating information relating to domain names and their usage.

101 Domain Facts Final
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