What is a domain name and how it works

A domain name is the name of your website.

It’s the name anyone can use to locate or access your website on the internet.

Like your home address for instance, a domain name helps people find your website on the internet.

Domain names are formed by the rules of the Domain Name System (DNS).

There are both a domain name and sub domain name. For instance, a domain name ends with the suffix .com, .org etc.

A sub domain is an additional part to the main domain. It comes before the main domain name and domain extension.

So, for instance; a www.victorwinners.com is a full domain name. While www.journal.victorwinners.com and vickwin.wordpress.com are both sub domains.

Domain Name Examples

There are different kinds of domain names. The first set are called Top Level Domain. There are also what we call, second level domain names and subsequently, third level domains.

Each of these are classified based on their hierarchical rankings.

What is a top Level Domain

A top level domain aka TLD is a domain name at the top hierarchy of the domain name system.

The generic top level domain (gTLD) and country code top level domain (ccTLD) are the two popular types of top level domains.

The third and less popular one is the internationalized country code top-level domains.

Generic Top Level Domain (gTLD)

Generic top level domain name (gTLD) are the most popular kind of domain name extensions. It usually ends with the suffix, .com, .org, .net,  .info, .biz etc.

Mostly, domains with the gTLD extensions can be registered by anyone at any location around the world.

Country Code Top Level Domain (ccTLD)

A country specific top level or country code domain name represents a country and usually ends with a two lettered word that represent sthe domain name extension for that country.

So, for instance; if I used a country code top level domain name (ccTLD) for the UK, we’d have mysite.uk.

If on the other hand i wanted a domain name with the Nigerian country code top level domain, we would have something like mysite.ng.

Second Level Domain

These are domains that are below the top level domain in the ranking hierarchy.

The .com.ng for eample is a second level domain under the Nigerian ccTLD.

Same goes for the .co.uk and the .uk ccTLDs.

Usually, second level domains are less popular, compared to the top level domains. Notwithstanding, there’s not much proof of any SEO advantage or disadvantage if you choose to use one over the other.

Domain name Extensions

Like i mentioned earlier, the gTLD are among the most popular domain name extension for businesses around the world.

But there no strict rules mandating you to use the gTLD etension as part of your domain name.

Depending on your need or the reason behind your website, you can always use a different gTLD.

How to Choose a Domain Name

One of the toughest decisions you will have to make while building a website is going to be about choosing the right domain name for your blog.

According to a survey, 51% of all existing websites are making use of the .com extension for their websites.

With such analysis, you would automatically think that using the .com extension is your best option for a domain name but, that’s not the whole truth.

When choosing a domain name, you want to put into considerations, things like your existing brand, target audience, product or services etc.

Take for instance, if you’re building a platform that is targeted at an audience in South Africa, instead of using a .co.uk extension in your domain name, you’ll do better if you use the .co.za which is associated with South Africa.

Also, you need to consider the length of your domain name and it’s relevance to your business before you settle for them.

Take for instance, if you’re planning to build a business that will be sold off to a different entity after some time then it’s best you don’t use you personal name as the domain name.

These are some of the things you should consider before choosing a domain name and when you do, you will be able to choose a domain name that will be relevant for you and your business.

Popular Domain Name Extensions

The following are the popular domain name extensions and when you should use them, if you’re planning to build a website…

.org: Best for organizations like Churches, NGOs, etc .
.com: Best for commercial businesses. Although this is the most widely used domain name extension.

.ru: Country code top level domain for Russia. Used for websites targeted at the Russian Federation.
.info: For informational websites.
.net: For network organizations.
.edu. For educational purposes.
.mil: For military purposes.
.uk (United Kingdom): For websites targeted at the UK.
.ng (Nigeria): For websites targeted at Nigerians.

Before getting a website or blog, one of the most important things you must fix is a domain name. So, you’ll have to settle for a domain name before proceeding with your web design.

Now you should note that it’s not just about your domain name, the domain name extension matters too.

So before going for a domain name, instead of going for the default domain name extension, (in this case, the .com), find out your target audience and then select a suitable domain name, based on that audience; putting into considerations, some of the factors I mentioned above.

Same goes for a website targeted at people in the UK. The .uk and .co.uk are your best extensions.

Using the country code domain name to target a particular country helps the search engine in showing your website to the right audiences.

Same goes with a blog. Though most blogs are left at the default dot com extension, If your blog is focused on a country specific audience, target the domain extension for the particular country.

In a nutshell, a domain name is a very important part of your website. For best results while choosing a domain name, remember to make sure that your domain name is short, catchy, SEO friendly and right on brand.

Need further help on how to choose a domain name for your website, Let’s help you.

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Victor Winners

Victor Winners

Award winning Blogger, Author, Web Developer, Senior Digital Strategist and Founder of Africa's most widely read blog on Content Marketing and Digital Strategy, VictorWinners.Com.Named as one of the top 50 design influencers globally, since 2014; Victor Winners has helped over 2 million readers to understand and use digital technology to transform their lives and businesses.

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