The internet is an ever-growing environment, with over 350 million registered domain names now in existence. Thousands of new domains are registered every day, with individuals and businesses alike increasingly turning to creating a website for themselves. If you’re new to making a blog or website, you might be finding the terminology tricky and the question of needing a domain name confusing. Here’s what you need to know when it comes to domains and how to buy a domain name for your website.
What is a Domain Name?
The domain name is typed as the URL for people to visit your blog or website directly from a browser address bar. This address is a unique identifier for your particular site. Upon entering it into the web browser, a request will be sent to the Domain Name System (DNS), a server network. These servers will search for the name servers that are associated with that domain name, forwarding the request to those servers. The associated servers are essentially computers that are managed by your hosting company, and as such, the host will forward the request to the computer that stores your website, known as a web server. From here, the web server will retrieve the web page and all associated information and then send the data back to the browser.
So in short, the domain name is your website’s address, with the web hosting being your website’s accommodation. In order to create a website, you’ll need both of these services, which you can buy together or from different companies. If you purchase them separately, the domain name settings need to be edited and the Name Server information, which specifies where user requests are to be sent, needs to be forwarded to the hosting company.
Different domain name types
Various extensions are possible, with .com or .co.uk being particularly popular. The likes of .net, .org, .info and so on are also options.
ICANN (The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is responsible for creating domain name policies and granting permission to Domain Name Registrars to sell domain names. It’s the registrar that will sell the domain name and manage the likes of transfers and renewals. You, as the owner of a domain name, take responsibility for advising the registrar where to send the requests and for renewing your domain’s registration.
Considering the sheer volume of registered domains, choosing a name may mean that the ideas you had were already taken. As such, finding a domain name could involve a little additional thought to come up with something that works for you. Generally speaking, avoiding numbers and keeping the domain short and easy to spell are good guidelines to go by.
The ins and outs of domain name purchase
The next question is, how to buy a domain name? For either a website or blog, you can buy a domain name through different registrars online, from some of which you can also purchase hosting. Buying both services from the same company reduces the need for changing name server settings and results in a more convenient process for the website owner.
Once your domain is registered, you’ll have the ability to make subdomains yourself. A subdomain is a child domain under your main domain name, for example, blog.yourdomain.co.uk.
Should you change your mind and there be unforeseen circumstances that negate the need for your website, some registrars will allow the cancellation of the domain registration or for you to let it expire, although refunds are rarely given so it’s best to check the refund policy if you are concerned that this may apply. If the auto-renew feature isn’t turned on and you don’t manually renew, the name will expire after the registration period.
You can also choose to move your website over to a different domain name by pointing the domain name to your hosting server, allowing you to potentially keep both names pointing to your website. Keep in mind that search engines could deem this to be duplicate content, affecting your website’s search ranking.
It’s also possible to sell your domain name or to sign up with an additional Domain Privacy service to show proxy details rather than your personal information if you are concerned about your data privacy.
Buying a domain name is a pivotal step in setting up your website, and once you know the basics it becomes less complex and daunting than it may initially sound. Choosing a reliable provider for both your hosting and domain name services will take the hassle out of set-up, leaving you to work your creative flair, starting by deciding on your website’s domain name.