Last Updated on October 8, 2021 by Nathan Vidal
One of the most important tasks in creating a website is choosing a domain name. A domain name is your website’s user-friendly address on the internet. This is the website’s identity — how people will remember and access it. As a result of the strong association between your domain name and your brand or business, it is imperative that both align with each other. Choose something too generic and the association will be weak. Choose something too complicated and your audience may be put off. Striking the right balance of a useful and memorable domain name in a highly competitive market is an essential step in creating your online identity.
Why your website needs a domain name
For people to find your website they need to know where to look. Web servers (which host your websites) have an Internet Protocol (IP) address associated with them so they can communicate with each other. IP addresses are not that useful to the common person though. They are not descriptive and difficult to remember. A domain name is the solution to this problem. Instead of typing a series of numbers to reach a website you can simply type the domain name associated with the website. The Domain Name System (DNS) does the translation between domain names and IP addresses for us. You can find out more about how domain names work at WPBeginner.
Components of a domain name
A domain name consists of different levels of labels delimited by dots. The rightmost label is the top level domain (TLD). To the left of the top level domain is the second level domain (SLD). There can be more levels of domains added but these two levels are the minimum required to register a domain name.
Top level domain (TLD)
There are many top level domain names to choose from and there will likely be even more in the future. You should be aware that some TLDs have specific meanings attached to them. For example, .gov is reserved for the United States of America’s government institutions, .edu is reserved for educational institutions, and .org is most suitable for non-commercial organizations. The prices for TLDs can also vary greatly. In choosing a domain name you have to think of the relevance of the top level domain to your website. More traditional top level domains such as .com and .net are instantly recognizable as website addresses while others are not as quickly associated with websites.
Lower level domains
The lower level domains consist of the labels to the left of the top level domain. You can have more than one lower level domain depending on the structure of your domain name. For example, if you register yoursite.com then the yoursite label represents the second level domain (SLD). However, if you register yoursite.co.uk then the yoursite label represents a third level domain. This descriptive label is the one that you have the most creativity in selecting. There are no predefined choices like those that exist with top level domains.
Registering your domain
There is an annual cost associated with registering a domain name. You can purchase a domain name from any of a number of reputable domain name registrars. In addition to domain registration, many registrars offer various other services such as privacy protection or Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates for adding encryption to your website. These are not required for registering a domain but can be useful in preventing spam and securing data transmission on your website respectively. If you are not satisfied with your domain registrar you can also transfer your domain name to another register of your choosing.
Getting the most of your domain name
Your domain name will likely be an integral part of your business marketing. You will use it whenever you promote your website. It will likely form part of your professional email address as well. As such, it is beneficial to consider the overall branding impact of the domain name you choose. Can you integrate it with your social media handles to maximize brand awareness? Is it easy to pronounce or spell when you are telling someone about your brand or business? Will it help in your search engine optimization?
Always have your website visitors in mind when choosing a domain name and choose something that aligns with both your brand and your audience. If you already have a unique business or brand name you may find it easier to find a suitable domain name that is available. Do not be discouraged if your first choice for a domain name is already taken though. Get creative. A country coded Top Level Domain (ccTLD) may be an option if your website is targeting a specific country or region.
Considerations when choosing a domain name
The cost of a domain name varies depending on the domain name registrar and the type of top level domain that you are looking for. Many registrars also regularly offer promotional prices for specific top level domains.
Some top level domains are better suited to certain types of websites. Ensure that the top level domain name you select is relevant to the content of your website.
Not everyone will access your website by clicking on a link. Some people will access your website directly by typing in the domain name. Choose a domain name that is easy as possible to type.
Registering a domain name might seem intimidating but it does not have to be. SeizerStyle Designs helps clients decide on ideal domain names for their brands and businesses. Knowing how your domain name affects your business empowers you to make a domain decision that you will not regret.
What is a Domain Name? (Mozilla.org)
What is a domain name and how do domains work? (WPBeginner)