What is a Domain Name?
A domain name is the name used to identify a business, an organisation, or an individual online, and it is usually "personalised" to reflect the business or trading name of the parties concerned. It consists of two specific sections. The first section is the Name, eg, my-business-name or my-product-name, whilst the second part, the Suffix, identifies the registration body or country of origin of the domain, eg. com or co.uk.
Within a correctly formed domain name, the suffix is separated from the name by a dot or period, eg, my-product-name.com or my-business-name.co.uk.
Although there are several hundred different suffixes around the world, the name used for each domain within a suffix-group must be unique. For example, there can only ever be one unique domain name called my-product-name.com. But the name section - my-product-name - can be registered with many different suffixes. Thus, for example, my-product-name.co.uk and my-product-name.org are perfectly legitimate domain names which, using the different suffix extensions, also makes each of them unique in their own right.
It is not uncommon for a business to register several different suffix versions of their domain name in an endeavour to protect their identity and ensure that no one else is trading online with a domain name that is virtually identical. This helps avoid any confusion for customers with the domain name but, probably more importantly, also reduces the risk of a rival business from profiting from their marketing and selling campaigns.
In the UK for example, if one competing company owned weblink4u.co.uk and another weblink4u.com,
customers could easily visit the wrong website by mistake, to the benefit of one and to the detriment of the other. Owning both domain names completely eradicates this problem.
A domain name is actually an alias for an IP Address - Internet Protocol Address - which consists of 4 sets of numbers with a maximum of 3 numbers per set, and each set is separated by a dot or period in the format: 123.456.789.012. The actual numbers available in each set are limited to 256 in the range 0-255. Thus the highest number is 255 and the lowest is 0. All websites are allocated a numeric IP Address of this type which is then cross referenced to the domain name, making it easier for humans to remember and use.
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Does a Business need a Domain Name?
If a business intends to have a website or wishes to make use of email for communications, owning a domain name that reflects the business name or trading activities is virtually essential. Whilst a business could use the email addresses supplied by their ISP, an email address like firstname.lastname@example.org does not look very professional and may reflect your business in a negative way both to existing and potential customers.
But email addresses like email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org are more likely to promote a positive, professional image, whilst also indicating that there is a degree of solidarity and permanence about your business as you have gone to the trouble to obtain a dedicated online image.
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What is the best Domain Extension?
Whilst the domain extension you use can be influenced by what you are planning to use your domain name for, it is an undisputed fact that a COM extension is by far the best one to use. One of the original 3 top level domains (TLDs) - ORG and NET being the other two - a dot-COM domain is still the Number One, especially if you are planning to trade globally.
Unfortunately as most of the "good" names have now been registered, it is getting increasingly difficult to find a suitable dot-COM for business use. The new BIZ suffix was introduced a few years ago as an alternative to COM and is worth trying, whilst you may also be able to still find a suitable name with an ORG or NET extension.
If the business services you provide are more suited to your local or national region, then a country-specific domain like CO.UK will probably suffice. These days, country specific domains are as well known as their dot-COM cousins and, in many instances, may actually be a better choice. Sadly, these too are now becoming oversubscribed, so finding an appropriate UK domain is also becoming difficult.
In 2006, the EU domain extension was launched for use by businesses in EU countries. This domain extension is now increasing in popularity and is worthy of consideration if your business is located within the European Community.
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What You Need To Know
|Your domain name is your alias or identity on the internet. It enables potential customers to find your website and communicate with you via email.|
Once a domain name has been formally hosted on an internet-linked server it can be used to:
To use a domain name as a website the domain must be hosted on an internet-linked server and have at least one properly constructed HTML-based web page. Then, by using the prefix "http://www." in front of the domain name (frequently shortened to just "www."), the web page or website can be accessed.
Thus a full website address (also called URL) takes the form http://www.my-product-name.com, or can be shortened to www.my-product-name.com.
The act of formally hosting a domain name also enables the domain to be used for email addresses. In their simplest form, unlimited addresses can be created by simply adding a name or some letters followed by an "@-sign" in front of the domain as follows:
If required, dedicated, password-controlled POP3 email addresses can be pre-configured on the server to provide a greater degree of security.
If a business owns several different versions of their domain name, each with a different suffix for example, then all the non-hosted domains can be re-directed (forwarded) to the server where the domain used for the website is located. This ensures that no matter which suffix is entered in the browser, the website will still be found. For example, the domain name weblink4u.org.uk is web forwarded to www.weblink4u.co.uk.
Although similar in outward appearance and actions to domain/web forwarding, domain mapping is fundamentally different. For a start, instead of being forwarded to another domain, the domain being mapped is actually allocated the identical IP Address. So for all intents and purposes, it is a fully functional website, albeit with a different name but displaying the same web pages. In addition, a mapped domain can also have its own associated email addresses, which is not possible under domain/web forwarding.