What is a Domain Name?

Domain names are a big part of the internet. They’re the first thing people see when viewing a website and they make it possible to visit and remember websites easily. Still, despite how much we rely on them every day, many people  don’t know what a domain name is, much less how they work. But understanding what they are and how they work is the first step to selecting the perfect domain name for your own website. So if you’ve ever wanted to know whatmakes domain names tick, here’s your chance.

Simply put, a domain name is the name assigned to a website. Here are some examples that millions of people use every day:

Google.com, Apple.com, Wikipedia.org, Facebook.com, Bluehost.com

When someone wants to access a website they just type the desired domain name into their browser’s address bar and click ‘go’. Easy, right? But actually there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes.

More than Meets the Eye

Every website has an unique address on the internet. This is called an IP (Internet Protocol) address and it basically tells your computer where to find the server hosting the website you want to visit. For example, Bluehost’s IP address is 74.220.195.50. If you type it into your browser’s address bar and push enter, you’ll be taken right to our servers here in Provo, UT to see our website.

The thing is, these IP addresses are not easy to remember. And it gets even more difficult when considering how many websites most of us use on a daily basis. So to make life easier we rely on domain names instead.

For example, think of your home. There are specific longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates for its geographic location, right? While people could use these coordinates to find you, it wouldn’t be easy and the numbers are difficult to remember. So instead we rely on street names and shorter numbers to make finding places easier.

We do the same thing with the internet. Because its practically impossible to remember all the numbers making up an IP address, we instead tie these numbers to domain names so all we have to do is remember the actual name of the website. The domain name is then linked to the IP address which then points to the server hosting the desired website.

Hopefully this helps illustrate why domain names are so helpful, and so important. When you select a domain name for your website, make sure to pick one that is as easy as possible for your visitors to use.

  • Try to keep it short and descriptive (e..g yougurt.com is much better than johnandpetersgreatyogurt.com)
  • Make it unique
  • Feel free to include numbers and dashes
  • Consider all the available different suffixes (.com, .co, .org, .net, .uk, .sy, .net, etc…)

Remember, the domain name you choose is the first thing visitors see. It’s an extension of you and your website, so make sure to pick a good one!

James
Domain Specialist

4 comments

    • You can find the IP address in the left-hand column of the cPanel, under the IP address heading. WWW should be used by default, most browsers will add that on a URL. You may have an .htaccess redirect, I’d suggest starting there.

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