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How Do Domain Names Work?

Have you ever wondered how domain names actually work?

In this article today, we will have an in-depth look at the different types of domain names, how they work, and where they come from.

What is a Domain Name?

what is a domain name

In simple terms, a domain name is a name users put into the computer to find a certain website. For example, if someone wanted to get to Facebook, they would have to input www.facebook.com to be taken there. It’s like an address to your house. Without a domain name, no one would be able to identify or find your website. It’s an extremely important component of the internet.

If you would like to read more in-depth about what domain names actually are, do check our full article here.

How do Domain Names actually Work?

servers

To understand how domain names work, we are going to go through the technical process of what happens when you enter a domain name into your web browser.

Once a user has entered a domain name into their web browser, the first thing that will happen is that a request will be sent to the Domain Name System (DNS).

The servers will then look for name servers that are linked with the domain name and send the request to those name servers. For example, if a website is hosted on SiteGround, the name server information would look like this:

  • ns1.it9.siteground.eu
  • ns2.it9.siteground.eu

The nameservers above are basically computers that are managed by the company that hosts your website(s). The hosting company will send a request to that computer where your site is stored.

This computer is referred to as a web server. Lastly, the webserver gets the web pages and any information that is linked to it and sends it back to the web browser.

Different Domain Names

When it comes to domain names there are many different extensions. The most popular and common extension is .com, however, there are many other options you can choose from such as .org, .net, .tv, etc.

We will now take a look at some of these domain extensions.

  • Top-Level Domain (TLD)

These domain names are the most popular and are listed as the highest level in the Domain Name System (DNS).

There are many TLDs, the most common ones being .com, .org, and .net. A couple of less popular ones we suggest you avoid registering with are .biz, and .agency, amongst others.

  • Sponsored Top Level Domain (sTLD)

This type of domain is for a specific community, for example, .gov for the government and .edu for educational organizations.

  • Country Code Top Level Domain (ccTLD)

This type of domain name is country-specific. For example, .uk is for the United Kingdom, .in is for India, .ca for Canada and .cn for China.

In general, ccTLDs are used as domain names to target and cater to a specific country.

The 3 Parts of a Domain Name

parts

Subdomain

The first part of the domain name is what is on the left of the first dot.

For example – www.thedomainpromoter.com

You will not always need to enter this part of the domain name into the browser. For example, to reach my blog you can just type in ‘thedomainpromoter.com’ and you will arrive at my blog.

Second Level Domain

This is the section between the two dots.

For example – www.thedomainpromoter.com

Top-Level Domain

This is at the end of the domain name and appears after the second dot.

For example – www.thedomainpromoter.com

Domain Name vs Website

website

Have you ever thought that a domain name and a website is the same thing? Well, they aren’t but they are closely linked.

Once you have registered a domain name, you only have a website address, as explained in a previous article here. You will then need to build your website. You can own a domain name and not have a website, however, you can’t have a website without a domain name or it would be impossible for anyone to locate or even identify your website.

If you already have a domain name but don’t have a website, you will need to host your website so that people can reach it.

How are New Domain Names released?

Have you ever wondered how new domain extensions are released?

There are three main stages of this process:

Sunrise

This stage is for the trademark holders to register their domain names. It allows them to protect their brands by blocking others from using their name. It also gives security and safety to the trademark holders.

Landrush

At this stage, it is possible for anyone to bid for a domain. However, this process can differ depending on the domain name chosen. What usually happens is that you apply to register a domain; at the end of this stage, the domain names are distributed. If more than one person tries to register the same domain name then an auction is held.

General Availability

This is where the new domain names are available, meaning anyone can register the domains that are available. So, just type in the domain name you’re after and if it’s available you can register it straight away.

This process is followed when a new domain name extension is released but it can differ for certain extensions.

Domain Pricing

The usual price of domains such as .com, .org and .net can vary between £10 and £16 depending on the registrar. However, there are some premium domains that can be in the thousands and even millions. The most expensive domain name that has ever sold was 30 million dollars and it was called voice.com.

The domain names that are sold at these premium prices are from people who are investors in domains. These are sold at domain marketplaces where people can buy and bid for them as well.

Where to Register a Domain Name

You can register a domain name at any third-party registrar and you can also register through a hosting company (but we wouldn’t recommend that because it is often more expensive).

NameCheapThis registrar manages over 10 million domain names worldwide. When you purchase a domain name it comes with free WHOIS guard, 2 months free email, 24/7 support, and more.

GoDaddy – Another really popular and well-known registrar. They manage over 78 million domain names worldwide. You will be able to register a .com for as little as £0.99.

Google Domains – If you just want to quickly register a domain name, this is your best bet. However, you will not find any discounted prices like the registrars we have mentioned earlier.

NameSilo – If you want a simple and clean experience when buying a domain name, this would be the option for you.

Final Thoughts

So, you now understand the technical process of how a domain name works and how you can’t have a website without a domain name – you will need hosting so people can find your website.

You know some places where you can register your first domain name. We recommend NameCheap as their pricing and user interface and experience is really nice and simple.

If you want a domain name that will target a specific country, you will want to go with the corresponding domain extension which was mentioned earlier in this article.

Lastly, if you would like to find out more about if domain names affect SEO – click here.

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