A domain name is what you enter into your web browser’s address bar in order to visit an internet website. A domain name is usually mapped to a specific IP address with the use of DNS servers to make sure that you are routed to the correct server.
Domain names can be purchased under different TLDs, each country having its own TLD along side the international TLDs that you may be more familiar with such as .com and .net. Domain names are normally purchased from web hosting providers for example when you purchase a web hosting package, or alternatively directly from a domain registrar whose speciality it is to supply domain names to those who need them.
Domain names can only be alphanumeric with the exception of a few symbols, but are better than the often confusing and numeric only format of IP addresses which domain names are designed to mask. Domain names can often be anything you like, just as long as your desired domain name hasn’t already been purchased by someone else; this means that you can take your business or brand online using the same name which can give you an extra source of income when it comes to selling your products or services to your target audience.
Although websites can be access using an IP address if they have their own dedicated IP address, a domain name is the best way to bring in more visitors to your website from the web in general as well as through other methods such as word of mouth.
A domain name provides you with a name that you can customize to your liking, for example if you are wanting to setup a business website then you can easily use your business’s name as your domain; if you are an individual wanting a domain name then you can choose one of your liking, but in both cases it does depend on whether your desired domain is available for registration.
Domain names should be simple but still to the point since in the end you will want to be able to give your domain out to people both face to face and via internet means of communications such as forums and blogs. The length of a domain can also play a large role in how memorable it is for those who may be returning visitors to your website.
A domain is normally purchased under a TLD, an example of a TLD being .uk for UK domains and .com as an international example. Domains can be purchased under any the worlds domains, although in the case of regional TLDs you may actually need to have a physical residence in the territory concerned in order to register a domain under that specific TLD.
TLDS are one thing which a search engine can base your overall ranking on since they are available both locally and internationally. If you are wanting to setup a website that is being aimed towards people living in the UK for example, you should ensure that you purchase a domain under the .uk TLD since this will give you a better in UK specific search engine results.
Those who wish to aim their websites at a global audience should consider using a global TLD such as .com or .net since these are more likely to be favoured by search engines for such a purpose. However, there is one international TLD, .info, which isn’t indexed by Google since it is seen as high risk meaning that although they are cheap, you should not purchase one with the intention of hosting an active website under it since you are more or less guaranteed not to receive any traffic from Google at least.
In order for a website to work under a domain that you have purchased, you require a web hosting package to meet your needs. The purpose of a web hosting plan is to allow you to have one central location in which you can store your emails and the files that are needed for your website to function correctly.
A hosting package also supplies you with the DNS service that you need to ensure that the domain which you have purchased is able to function correctly. If you purchase your domain name from a web hosting company then you may find that it actually comes free with a certain web hosting package; this isn’t uncommon since many web hosts are now running this type of offer these days.
Web hosting services tend to be available hosted on both Linux and Windows web hosting servers, meaning that if the website that you want to run under your domain name will only work in a specific environment, you will be able to purchase a hosting account that is hosted in that right environment.
When you purchase a web hosting account with your domain name, you will probably find that you are provided with access to a control panel of some form or another so that you can manage your web hosting account with ease, as well as your domain name. Web hosting providers tend to use the cPanel control panel for Linux based domain hosting, whilst Plesk is the most popular control panel choice for Windows based domain name hosting.
The main purpose of a control panel is to allow you to manage the different aspects of your web hosting account and domain name from an easy to use web based system instead of having to rely on your web hosting provider for support. cPanel is seen as the most popular control panel for Linux based domain name hosting meaning that you are quite likely to encounter it if you look into a large or small number of web hosting providers.
Plesk has been the most stable control panel for Windows domain name hosting for a while now; although there are many other control panels available for Windows web hosting, many of them aren’t that stable or reliable due to the way that they have been built, meaning that Plesk is a rareity in the web hosting industry.
If you register a domain name without any web hosting then you will probably find that you are ineligible to receive any form of support from the domain registrar or web hosting provider that you purchase the domain name from. On the other hand, if you purchase your domain name along with a web hosting package then you will find that you are probably eligible to receive a certain level fo support from your web hosting provider’s support team as part of the web hosting plan that you have purchased.
The purpose of a web hosting company’s support team is to guide users who feel that they don’t have the appropriate of knowledge through the web hosting or domain hosting account through the process of setting up their web hosting account or domain, as well as providing them with assistance on how to manage either once they are up and running.
Most web hosting providers are able to provide support for web hosting accounts and domains over email, live chat facilities and phone meaning that if you choose an experienced web hosting company if you are inexperienced then you should be in relatively safe hands.
In conclusion, a domain name can provide you with a pathway to starting your own website which can help you expand your portfolio if you are a business looking to sell online, or can provide you with another method of communicating with the world if you are just an individual.
If you choose to purchase a web hosting package with your domain name or have a free domain supplied with your existing website hosting package then you are normally eligible for some sort of free support for your domain name or web hosting package, meaning that if you are inexperienced you can normally request a certain level of help for your needs.