What's a domain name and why do I need one?
Just like your home address, a domain name is a destination, but on the web.
It helps your company build trust with clients and keeps your company brand running through out your your website and email addresses, making you look more professional.
Back to basics
Before we go further, let’s get back to basics…. a domain name consists of two parts:
SLD (second level domain)
The SLD can be anything you want it to be, as long as it’s not already registered by someone else already.
Every domain name is just like a fingerprint – completely unique, so selecting the right domain can be crucial to your site and brands success.
Most companies go for their company name eg. Tesco – tesco.com, whilst others go for something a bit quirkier eg. B&Q – diy.com
TLD (top level domain)
The TLD is the last segment of the domain and is used to identify the objective of the company or organisation it’s registered to. eg.
.com – Commercial businesses
.org – Organisations (often non-profit)
.edu – Educational facilities like universities or schools
You can also have country-code TLD’s
.co.uk – Company of the United Kingdom
WHAT DOES A DOMAIN NAME DO?
A domain name is ultimately used for finding and identifying devices on the Internet.
The internet uses IP addresses (a bit like your postal address) to find their way to the right location. They are formed by a series of numbers, but because most of us humans find long strings of numbers difficult to remember, domain names were developed and used instead.
Hosting companies look after domain names, but you still own it and can move it from one provider to the other as and when you wish.
A WEBSITE AND A DOMAIN NAME, WHATS THE DIFFERENCE?
As we talked bout earlier, a domain name is like a postal address.
A website is a collection of images, and pages that are uploaded onto your domain. When people type your domain into an internet browser they are directed to these files which are then displayed as your website.
WHERE DO EMAIL ADDRESSES COME INTO THIS?
To complete the package, you can also use your domain name to bring your email addresses into your company brand.
Any email address you want can be associated with your domain and would just appear before the @ symbol.
Here’s a little example:
Imagine a lady called Izzy, she creates hand illustrated celebration cards and and has a company called Izzys Illustrations.
When she first set up the company she registered the domain name – izzysillustrations.co.uk.
Things have taken off and she now has a virtual PA to help her with general enquiries so wants to set up different email addresses for her to access but still using the Izzys Illustrations brand.
She decides to go for firstname.lastname@example.org which her virtual PA now manages whilst Izzy still has access to her own personal mailbox: email@example.com and get get on with what she loves doing – illustrating!
WHAT SHOULD I CONSIDER WHEN LOOKING FOR A DOMAIN?
SHORT & SWEET
Keep your domain as short as possible that way people are more likely to remember it and spell it right! If they can’t remember it they might not be able to find you.
AVOID NUMBERS AND HYPENS
Numerical numbers like ‘5’ can’t be used in domain names. By using the word ‘five’ instead can cause a whole heap of confusion for those that don’t realise! More confusion leads to less people being able to find you so if you can, avoid numbers.
Hyphens are often missed out when typing a web address – again, resulting in the people that want to find you, not being able to – not an ideal situation!
ALWAYS GO FOR A .COM OR .CO.UK (WHERE POSSIBLE!)
There are many domain name extensions available but the .com or .co.uk are your safest option. According to W3Techs.com 46.9% of the worlds websites use the .com extension, the stats can’t be wrong!
PROTECT YOUR BRAND
LOOK AT KEYWORDS
Look at keywords that define what you do. Lets go back to Izzy, she sits down with a cup of tea one Sunday afternoon and brainstorms a few ideas around the keywords she would use to describe her business and the cards that she creates and decides to register illustratedcards.co.uk as well.