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A domain name is essential for every business or organization looking to build an online presence. By registering your domain name, you're providing internet users with an address they can use to find your website and access your content.

Let's shed some light on what you need to know about domain names and how to register your domain name successfully.

1.     What is a Domain Name?

A domain name is your address on the internet. Visitors use it to find and gain access to your website and its content. For example, YouTube's domain name is "youtube.com."Domain names look the way they do because of how the Internet works.

The internet is a network of computers that can communicate with each other. Fo­­r identification, each computer is assigned a unique internet protocol (IP) address. The Internet uses an IP address to differentiate various network components, such as routers and websites. It also facilitates communication between devices that are part of a network.

The IP address of a website can be difficult to remember because it's made up of a series of non-random numbers, which come in a set of four that are separated by periods. An example of an IP address can look something like this: 177.282.0.22 or 33.212.47.0.

Through a Domain Name System (DNS), users can key in domain names like "google.com" or "en.wikipedia.org" instead of complex IP addresses and be directed to the websites they want to visit.

2.     Why Is a Domain Name Important?


Having a domain name is necessary if you want to establish an online presence. Without a domain name, visitors won't be able to find your website easily, given that they will have to remember complex IP addresses.

For example, businesses with an appropriate domain name are more likely to be found by potential customers, translating to potentially increased web traffic and sales. This is because a domain name serves as an access point for your website, allowing users to view your content and learn more about your business, products, or services.

Having a solid domain name gives you a competitive edge and credibility. It can also boost your brand's visibility because a good domain name also helps create brand awareness.
 

3.     What Are Its Components?


A domain name can be divided into three main parts, which are also called the root domain: a subdomain, domain name, and top-level domain.

For example, you're visiting Google. On your browser's address bar, you'll see Google's domain name: https://www.google.com. The "http://" is known as the protocol. "www." is the subdomain, while "google" is the domain or website name. It's followed by the top-level domain (TLD), which is ".com."

Some websites have different uniform resource locators or URLs. For example, you're planning to visit Sephora's Australian website. Its URL should be: https://www.sephora.com.au

The URL is broken down into several components:

·       Protocol: https://
·       Subdomain: www.
·       Domain: Sephora
·       Top-level domain (TLD): .com
·       Country Code Top-level Domain (ccTLDs): .au
 

4.     What Is a Top-Level Domain (TLD)?


A website should have a Top-level Domain (TLD), also known as an extension, such as .com, .edu, or.org, The TLD's extension is at the end of a URL.

There are three types of TLDs:

·       Generic Top-level Domain (gTLD)

A gTLD is comprised of three letters and, in a way, describes what a website is or what it has to offer. For example, a .edu gTLD informs users that the website has an educational nature or is used by educational institutions.

·       Country Code Top-level Domain (ccTLD)

A ccTLD is a country-specific top-level domain. It's made up of two characters, and each country has its own domain extension. For example, Canadian websites can have .ca as their ccTLD. UK and Japanese websites have .uk and .jp, respectively, as their ccTLD.

·       Sponsored Top-level Domains (sTLD)

STLDs are specialized extensions like .gov or .asia intended for websites under specific organizations or sponsors. These sponsors monitor compliance and management of their TLDs.

5.     What Are the Popular TLDs?


Some of the most popular or widely used domain extensions or TLDs include:

·       .com
·       .net
·       .org
·       .info
·       .top
·       .site
·       .shop
·       .co
·       .de
·       .io
 

6.     What Is an Internet Domain Name System (DNS)?


If the domain name acts as your site's address on the internet, then the domain name system (DNS) is like a directory.

The DNS is responsible for translating IP addresses so browsers can access the internet's network and locate the webpage you're looking for. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is responsible for coordinating the internet's databases and networks.
 

7.     What's the Difference Between a Domain Name and Web Hosting?


Your domain name is your website's "human-friendly" address that helps users find your website, while web hosting is a service that stores your website's data in servers. Your web host's server makes your site available for browsing online and enables visitors to access your site's content.
 

8.     How Do You Choose a Successful Domain Name?


For a domain name to be effective, it must be memorable and easy to type and pronounce. It should also be unique, catchy, and brandable. Avoid complex domain names that use complicated words, numbers, and hyphens.

Your domain name plays a significant role in your branding. A unique domain name that sticks in your user's minds can give you a competitive edge and minimize the risk of legal issues.

When choosing a domain name, it pays to do a lot of research to avoid duplication, confusion or having to deal with legal implications. You don't want to pick a domain name that's been trademarked or already in use. Perform a trademark search to see if the domain name you want to use already exists or it is already a federal trademark in the US.

Below are some helpful tips for choosing a successful domain name:

  • Go with a domain name that fits your industry or niche

However, don't be too overly specific as you don't want your site to be limited by your domain name. Find a domain name that allows for flexibility and the opportunity for expansion or diversification.

For example, you run a blog whose primary focus is shoes, so you choose a domain name like "sneakers.com". But what if you want to expand your scope and talk about other types of shoes? Then "sneakers.com" won't do as it's no longer accurate. Moving your current website to another domain can be a laborious process and may even cause you to lose the progress that you've earned.

  • Incorporate your keywords into your domain name

Remember that a keyword's use isn't only restricted to content. However, avoid choosing random keywords. Make sure that your domain name contains a keyword relevant to your site. There are free tools, such as the Google Keyword Planner, that you can use to help you find the right keywords for your domain name.
 

9.     How Do You Register Your Domain Name?


Once you've chosen a domain name and extension, it's best to register it as soon as possible to avoid the likelihood of someone else taking the domain name you're thinking of using. You can even register a domain name even before you've established your business.

The good thing about domain name registration is that it is relatively affordable and can be registered for a year. If you choose to keep the domain name, you can renew its registration. Otherwise, you can let it expire.

Thankfully, domain name registration is a straightforward process that you can do online. To register, you need to:

  • Select a reliable domain registrar

You have two options when securing a domain name: sign up with a domain registrar or look into free options. While free domains cost nothing, you'll have minimal options. You'll also have to deal with subdomains that have to carry the website builder's branding, then your web site name (URL) will look like this "yoursite.thewebsitebuildersdomain.com."

If you sign up with a domain registrar, ensure that it's accredited with the ICANN to sell and oversee domain names. Also, consider your budget as different registrars have different pricing and policies.

  • Research your domain name

Once you've found the domain registrar you want to work with, research your domain name using the registrar's search bar or domain availability checker. While many domain names are added daily, this doesn't guarantee that your domain name is available.

  • Choose the domain name option that's right for your business

Your domain name of choice and even your other options may have already been taken. Alternatively, you can try searching for the domain name with a different extension. For example, "boxesboxesboxes.com" has already been registered. You can try searching for other extensions such as "boxesboxesboxes.net" or "boxesboxesboxes.org."

  •  Purchase the domain name

Once you've settled on a domain name and extension, you can now "purchase" the domain name from your domain registrar. By purchasing, we mean paying to own the domain name for a standard period of one year. If you want to continue using the domain name, you'll have to renew your registration and pay a registration fee.

  • Verify your ownership

Domain name ownership doesn't end with the payment. It would help if you considered domain ID privacy features to protect your personal information. It would be best to verify your ownership of your new domain name to prevent unauthorized use.
 

10.   How Long Should a Domain Name Ideally Be?


A domain name should ideally be short and should not exceed 15 characters. The optimal range should be between six to 14 characters because the shorter a domain name is, the easier it will be to remember.
 

11.  Which Extension Is Right for Your Website?


Domain extensions have several types, and this variation could make it difficult for you to choose the right one for your website.

.com is a go-to extension and can come across as reliable to users. However, if you want to communicate an experience or give users an idea of what your site is about, then you can go with informative, descriptive extensions, such as .info or .edu.

If you want the extension to complement a specific niche in the tech industry like artificial intelligence, you can go with something like the .ai extension.
 

12.  How Much Does It Cost to Register a Domain Name?


Domain registration costs can vary broadly, depending on the domain registrar you're buying from and the kind of domain (and domain extension) you want to purchase. In general, you can expect to pay between $10 and $20 annually.

You also have to account for hidden domain costs such as yearly renewals, domain privacy fees, and email domain add-ons.
 

13.  What Should You Do If a Domain Name Is Already Taken?


When a domain name you want to use is already taken, it's best to find alternatives. You can use a different domain extension or change your domain name slightly. You can also offer to buy the name from the current owner.

If you've trademarked the name that's used in the domain, you have the option to take legal action to claim ownership. However, this is only applicable if the current owner is offering the same products or services as you or if they started using the domain name after you've trademarked the name.

If you think that there's trademark infringement, it's best to consult with your lawyer. 
 

14.  Does Your Trademark Cover Your Domain Name?


Technically, your domain name registration isn't part of your trademark. However, you can include your domain name in your brand to be registered as a trademark. By registering your trademark and domain name, you get legal protection for your businesses, particularly from infringement.

Protect your brand, your Intellectual property, your trademark with Nominus. Nominus offers domain registration and national and international trademark registration services. Choose from over 200 ccTLDs and 850 gTLDs.
 

15.  Can You Buy Multiple Domain Names?


Yes, you can. You can even buy and link multiple domains to a central website to ensure that your visitors will still end up in the right place, even if your URL is misspelled. Buying multiple domains can help improve your online identity and give you an edge over your competitors.
 

By Ana