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Domain Names

Domain Names Explained

A Domain Name is a unique 'web address name' that you register, this Domain Name can then be used to direct people to your website.

Like postal addresses, Domain Names need to be unique so that people (computers) using the web can find you. If there wasn't a unique name for every website on the web, it simply would not work.

A Domain Name has three parts:

www - Meaning 'World Wide Web', standard for all Domain Names.
mydomainname - Which is the part you choose to register and which, when combined with it's extension, must be unique.
com, co.uk - The Domain Name Extension, which can be a geographical reference or a site definition type.

Each part is separated by a dot or full-stop (period). Examples:

  • www.google.com
  • www.google.co.uk
  • www.oxfam.org
  • www.oxfam.org.uk
  • www.ucl.ac.uk

A Domain Name Extension forms part of the name's uniqueness. 'www.mydomainname.com' is unique from 'www.mydomainname.org'. They are two separate Domain Names.

Registering A Domain Name

The easiest way to register a domain is via the web. There are thousands of companies offering to register a domain name on your behalf. It is worth shopping around as pricing does vary. There are also options to purchase your domain name at the same time as your hosting package, which is often cheaper.

Putting the search term 'domain names' in a search engine will return many results of companies offering to register Domain Names on your behalf. Have a good hunt around the Web to find the best deal. Make sure you read the small print. Also, read some of the specialist Internet magazines, these often have recommendations and reviews, that may point you in the right direction.

The official organisation that oversees the Domain Name register records will vary from country to country. You may get a certificate as proof of ownership sent to you after registering.

Most companies that offer registration via the web will first run a search to make sure the domain name you wish to register is not already taken.

You don't need a website to register a Domain Name. Because each Domain Name has to be unique, some people prefer to register their name straight away to avoid the risk that someone else might register it before them.

Domain Name Rules?

Domain Names are not case sensitive but convention suggests that names should be all lowercase. No white space is allowed, some people use a hyphen to separate words. The 'all one word' is the most common approach though - www.mydomainname.org

Good Domain Names?

Most people will just use their organisation's name as their domain name, and that's fine. But some things should be considered when choosing, especially if you have the freedom to choose anything you wish.

A website address (domain name) is obviously better if it's easily remembered. That's why the 'hyphen' is sometimes troublesome. Also, if possible, you want the spelling to be obvious (real words) or at least easily guessed at (company and made-up words).

Avoid ambiguity in spelling variations and meaning too. A prime example is our very own commerial web development domain name (a long story): Frieze Design. When spoken this could be www.friezedesign.co.uk or www.freezedesign.co.uk.

Lastly, some people report that the words in your domain name can influence Search Engines. Their advice would be that if you are a Hotel you should include that word as part of your domain: www.theritzhotel.com

In Google, domain name words do get 'highlighted' if they match a 'search phrase'. Search phase entered: "professional web design london"

google highlight

Common Domain Name Extensions:

.com - Strictly speaking this is short for 'commercial', and was originally used to define U.S. based commercial websites. Many people today though, register a .com domain name as a kind of 'world' based site. It doesn't seem to have any geographical significance these days. Not usually used by charities or non-profit organisations
.org - Short for Organisation. The most common extension used by charities. It can be used in conjunction with a country reference - .org.uk. Generally used to signify a noncommercial website.
.net - Short for Internet. used by both commercial and noncommercial websites. No geographical reference.
.ac, ac.uk - This denotes a Academic or Education Institution, usually combined with geographical reference.
.gov, .gov.uk - Short for Government Department, State Institution, usually combined with geographical reference.
.ru, .it, .fr, .de - Geographical references. Usually the first two letters of the associated country, (Russia, Italy, France, Germany).

New domain name extensions are always being added, .info and .tv are recent additions.

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