On the internet, people go to a lot of web pages. The web pages are hosted by hosting configurations such as Dedicated hosting, Shared hosting, and Virtual Private server. The web hosting is done by the vendor, while the web design that you see on the site is outsourced or done internally. But, how do people get to these websites? There are billions of web pages on the internet. But how would people visit a particular site? That’s where website domain names come in.
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What is a domain name?
The domain name is nothing but the name of your website. It is more like your address. People use the address to find your website. That address is your domain name. The websites have a unique IP address. But, it is difficult for the people to remember the string of numbers. Hence, the domain names were developed which routes the people to the particular IP address. The domain name acts like a ‘nickname’ to the IP address. On entering the domain name, the user is sent to the particular website.
Naming your domain is of your own choice. You can use any combinations of alphabets and letters to buy your domain. But, it can only be bought if it’s available. If some other entity has bought the domain, you cannot buy that domain. But it is still possible through domain name extensions. Domains have extensions such as .com, .net, .org, etc. If a website name is unavailable with a .com extension, it can be bought using the .org, or .us extension.
The domain has to be registered in order to be used. Hence, this stops the problem of the existence of two same domains. The domain name can direct only to one site.
Why do you need a domain?
The domain name on the internet is your identity. Any person, organization, or a company who wants internet presence must have a domain name. It is like your address on the online space. Having a domain with a business e-mail ID, gives the company or organization or a person, a professional look. There’s another major reason for businesses to invest in a domain name. The domain name helps businesses to protect copyrights and trademarks and increase credibility. Domain names also help in building brand awareness and helps with search engine positioning.
Are there domain names for free?
Yes, there are domain names that can be bought for free. But these domain names contain the name of the web host. The domain names will look something like [www.yourname.webhostname.com]. These are generally called sub-domains because they all have a parent website.
Although these domain names provide the same functionality like the other domains, these free domains come with limitations. Some of the limitations are as follows:
- The search engines don’t accept sub-domains from free web hosting providers. This creates a problem with the search engine positioning. When people search for your website on the search engines, the chances are your website never shows up on the first page.
- The address is difficult to remember for your visitors. This is because, apart from remembering the name of your website, the visitors have to remember the name of the web host as well. [www.yourname.webhostname.com]. This wouldn’t create a pleasant experience for the visitors and your site hits will drop eventually.
- The sub-domain cannot be transferred to another web host. With your own domain, it is highly possible. But with a sub-domain, this transfer can never be done.
ICANN is an abbreviation for ‘Internet Corporation for Assigned Name and Numbers’. As the name says, this organization is responsible to allotting the website names. They ensure that no two domain names co-exist in the internet space. ICANN is also the organization that allots the IP address to each domain. They are responsible for masking the IP address with the domain name. They also assign the Top-Level-Domains (TLD). TLD refers to the last segment of the domain names that come after the ‘dot’ on the domain name.
ICANN recognizes four different types of TLD’s:
Generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) – The gTLD’s are the most used and the most popular types of TLD’s. Some of the popular examples of these TLD’s include .com (given for commercial sites), .edu (given for educational sites), .biz (given for businesses), .org (given for organizations) etc.
Country-Code Top-Level Domains (ccTLD): The ccTLD is a TLD that is given for countries. Usually, the ccTLD is two letters long. Each country has its own ccTLD. People use the ccTLD when focusing only on the local market. The ccTLD for Australia is .au, for India is .in, for the United States of America .us, etc.
Sponsored Top-Level Domains (sTLD): The sTLD are supervised by private organizations. Some of the examples of sTLD includes .aero, .museum, .cafe, etc.
Infrastructure Top-Level Domains: The Infrastructure Top Level Domain has only one TLD, which is .arpa. It is controlled by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority for the Internet Engineering Task Force.
IDN Domain Names
IDN or Internationalized Domain Names are written domain names that are written in foreign languages such as Chinese, Japanese, or Russian. IDN domain names allow people to create domain names in their native languages.
Domain names that are registered are written using the English/Latin alphabets and numbers. The encoding of this sequence is called ASCII. IDN allows the users to use Non-ASCII characters and register the domain name. When foreign characters are used to register a domain name, it is encoded into a Punycode. A Punycode is like an ASCII for IDN domain names. The Punycode domains begin with an ‘xn’.