What is a domain name and how to find a good one
Every website must have a name
A domain is a unique address in the Internet. You enter the domain name to the URL bar of a web browser to visit a certain website. The domain name is included in every link. It can only contain Latin alphabet characters, digits, and the hyphen. A good domain is easy to remember and associated with a specific project or a company. Two websites cannot have the same domain name.
A domain like example.com can be given to a website only by a special company called a domain registrar. They take money for such services. However, there are also domains that you can use for free.
How the domain name system works
Every website is stored on physical equipment called a server. Every server has a permanent unique address that looks like 192.0.2.235 (IP address).
A normal website name consisting of symbols (the domain name) is always connected to the IP address of a server with a website. Information about this connection is stored in DNS, the domain name system.
To simplify things, DNS works like this:
- A user enters the domain address in the web browser bar.
- This request is sent to DNS servers.
- DNS figures out which domain name has been received, then it determines its IP address and sends a signal to the server where the website is stored.
- The website page opens in the user browser.
So when you enter a domain name in the address bar, your request goes to DNS first and then it is sent to the server with the website. This process normally takes no more than an instant or so.
DNS stores the hierarchy of domain names. It sorts out domain names depending on the location of IP addresses and simplifies web search. There are the following domain types:
- top-level domains or domain zones: national (.uk), international (.net), and thematical (.tv);
- second level domains of the example.com form. Such domains are registered for websites;
- subdomains - third and other level domains that look like site.example.com. You can have such domains for free from hosting providers or when creating a website with a website builder.
How to get a domain
While you can get a third-level domain for free, you can only buy a second-level domain.
If you want your website to live long, or you plan to make money on it, or you want to advertise your service, buy a second-level domain. You can create third-, fourth, or even fifth-level domains (subdomains) based on it.
To be honest, you don’t really buy a domain. You take it on lease for 1 year. You will have to prolong it and pay again next year. If you don’t do it, the domain name will become available to other users. If another user buys it, your website won’t work.
Hot to get a second-level domain for free
The service called Freenom allows to register a domain name in the zones .tk, .ml, .ga, .cf, .gp for free. Reviews say that this service really works but free Freenom domains have certain disadvantages.
- Bad reputation. Normally, domains in the .tk, .ml, .ga, .cf, .gp zones are registered by hackers and adult video makers.
- No guarantees. Freenom rules state that a free domain doesn’t provide any legal right on this domain. If a website doesn't work or its content is deemed unacceptable, your free domain may be canceled and withdrawn.
- Poor support. Users say that their support might not respond for days.
We don’t recommend using Freenom domains for solid projects. However, they work great for testing.
What about technical or service domains?
A technical or service domain may be a good fit for testing a new project. Normally, hosting providers give it for free. Such domains look like site.provider.com where provider.com is the provider’s domain while site is a name that you can select. Also, such domains may be given by website builders.
The problem with such domains is that you cannot take your domain with you if you decide to change your hosting provider. If you do so, you’ll have to find another domain name for your website. It means that your existing users won’t be able to find your website if they have saved the link to it while search engines will consider your website as a new website with a new domain so you’ll lose all your SEO achievements.
Where to buy a domain name
Partners are usually hosting providers. Visit the website or the account at your hosting provider and see if they can sell a domain to you. Buy it there if they have it. It’s pretty convenient; besides, a provider may also offer a discount to you as a client or even give a domain name for free for the first year. Sometimes, registrars provide them with good discounts.
If you haven’t bought hosting yet, then read our guide. There we are telling about website requirements, services that you may save on, and how to check your hosting provider.
Wherever you have purchased your website name, you can always transfer it to another registrar. The domain name will stay the same.
How much does a domain name cost?
From a couple of dollars up to thousands of dollars per year. It really depends on a domain name. A domain will cost a lot if it is consonant with a noun in English or has up to 4-5 symbols. Almost all such domains are already occupied or bought by dealers who want to resell it later. Those domains that are still available cost more than they deserve. E.g. the domain apple.nl may cost $15 while apple.host will go up to $15,000.
Domains with unrelated symbols or domains consonant with unpopular words are cheaper. Just go and compare prices from different registrars.
How to buy a domain
- Register on the website of a domain registrar or its partner.
- Select a domain name and domain zone. If the name is available, then book it.
- Fill out the form and pay for the domain. You may need ID for some domain names.
- The domain is yours! All you have to do is assign it to your website.
In order to assign a domain, you need to add it to your hosting settings. After it, your provider will tell you NS server addresses where information about your website location is stored. You need to add these addresses to your registrar account. Now, just wait until information on NS servers is updated. It may take up to 24 hours.
If you buy a domain name at your hosting provider, there is no need to assign IP addresses. It shall happen automatically.
Looking for a proper domain name for your website?
Try Vepp! This is the service for website management. After you've bought a domain name, you can easily add it to your hosting in Vepp. Besides, it helps install WordPress, upload images, configure backups, secure website against vulnerabilities, and maintain its operation. Normally, system administrators do this job but with Vepp anyone can do it. Just watch a free demo!
How to find a good domain for your website
A domain is like a business card for your website. It’s the first thing a visitor will see. In order to make the domain name work on your website, it shall be simple and easy to remember.
Simple. Don’t use complicated words or hyphens. Don’t use too much transliteration. E.g. try to read and enter the name like schastje.com. Pretty difficult, right? Don’t use anything like it.
Easy to remember. Use words that are close to the topics of your website. Keep in mind that a brief name is stickier than a long one; however, by shortening a name try not to shorten the meaning. For instance, goodbooks.com is easier to remember than gb.com.
Similar to the company name. If you create a company website, stick to its name.
Unique. Shy away from the names that look similar to the names of well-known websites. Users won’t like it if they visit your website occasionally. You won’t like it when your clients won’t open your website but will go to the website of your competitor with a similar domain name.
If you aim to create a big web portal and you have money, then register your domain in a few popular zones. Otherwise, they may not be available in the future.
Does a domain zone matter?
Yes and No. Search systems don’t care about which domain zone your website utilizes. Search rating uses other parameters. However:
- think about specific zones if you have a website with a certain topic e.g. .audio, .photo, .media;
- find the special use for a second-level domain by finding a good zone e.g. zaycev.net;
- some zones are more expensive e.g. names in new zones as they allow to find a beautiful and short name;
- some zones are available to specific companies:
.gov is only for government websites,
.aero is only for airline companies,
.moby is only for cellular operators.
Just remember it
- Every website needs a domain name. It’s okay to pay for a domain name.
- You need a second level domain.
- Buy a domain from a domain registrar or its partner.
- You have the right to choose any domain zone with some exceptions.
- Assign your domain to the website after you buy it.
- Don’t forget to prolong your domain in 1 year; otherwise, your website won’t be available and its name may be purchased by someone else. You can also enable automatic renewal – it seems to be quite a time-saver!