For many newbies to the world of owning and operating a website, the idea of domain names and domain registration can be quite confusing. But it doesn’t have to be. Setting up a website is a fairly easy process and domain registration is just a piece of that puzzle.
Let’s clear up one misconception off the bat—a domain name is not the name of the hosting service that you are using for your website nor is it the “name” of the website.
So, with that out of the way, let’s break down exactly what goes into a domain name and how to register it.
What is a Domain Name?
A domain name is a more common name for the URL or address of your website. When your visitors want to go to your website, they will type in the domain name for your website in their web browser. For instance, a popular website today is the Internet Movie Database. That’s the name of the website. But the domain name is https://www.imdb.com.
In reality, your computer is designed to go to a specific site when an IP address is entered. These IP addresses are a series of numbers. The domain name is a short-hand, easier-to-remember version of this so it can point a computer in the right direction.
Who manages domain names and domain registration?
The regulation of domain names is handled by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). This non-profit is basically the governing body that regulates this process and makes sure that they know exactly who owns which addresses.
However, ICANN outsources the job of actually selling domain names to other companies called Domain Name Registrars. When you register your domain name, you will go through a third-party registrar. Often, web hosting companies will also be domain registrars.
What makes for a good domain name?
When you are choosing your domain name, you want something that is short, sweet and descriptive. If your company sells baked goods, then you should have that somewhere in the title, such as www.janesbakery.com.
This same URL would not be a good choice for, let’s say, a book store or garage. It needs to describe your site.
You should also choose a domain name that is easy to remember. If you get too complex or long, then your visitors may not remember it. That’s why it’s a good idea to avoid domain names that incorporate your web host’s name as part of the URL. It just makes it too long for most people to remember.
How do you buy a domain name?
It is possible to buy a domain name from a third-party registrar. When you buy a domain name, you are doing so for a set frame of time, such as a year. You will have to renew this domain registration every year. (Think of this as renting the space and you have to sign a new lease every year.)
However, if you’re using WordPress, one of your best options is to choose to go through your hosting service. These companies will often handle all of the “heavy lifting” including the registration, paperwork, and the coding necessary to “point” your visitors to the right web address. They can also assist you if you have an existing website that you want to move to a new domain name.
Completing a domain registration is not that difficult a task, but it is an essential one. This is generally the first step in building a website so that the site will have someplace to park itself when it’s built. If you are unsure of how to go about registering a site, then you can visit your hosting company, such as InMotion Hosting, for assistance in completing this task.