Your domain name is a key part of your online identity. At the most basic level, a domain name is a website address (such as tandsgo.com), but it’s actually a little more complicated than that.
Here are some commonly asked questions about domain names.
What exactly is a domain name?
A domain name typically has two parts—the top-level domain and the second-level domain. The top-level domain is the part after the period, such as .com, .net, or .org. The second-level domain is the part that comes before the dot. For us, that’s “tandsgo”.
But the internet doesn’t really work based on the words you type into your browser. Every individual computer, network, and server (including servers that run websites) has an IP (internet protocol) address, which is a numeric identifier.
You have may encountered a situation where someone gave you an IP address that looks something like 188.8.131.520. (Those are fake numbers. That IP address won’t take you anywhere, just so you know.) Those numbers are how computers talk to each other on the internet.
What does the www mean? Do I need it before my website name?
The www that appears before your domain is actually a subdomain. In most cases, your website should work with www and without it. If you type your website in without the www and it doesn’t work, it means something might not be set up correctly in the records for your site.
How do I choose a domain name for my business?
Choosing a domain name can be an adventure sometimes, but it’s a worthy investment of time to get the right one. Ideally, you want a domain that ends in .com, as it’s the most common web ending and one most people are going to type first. Unless you’re a non-profit, and then you want a .org if possible.
The shorter your domain is, the easier it is for someone to remember. If your company name is long, consider abbreviating part of the name in your domain. If the shortened version you want is already chosen, you might add a geographic location (although be sure you’re not limiting yourself if you work in more than one state). For example, our client Geisinger Consulting uses the domain gcokc.com, because using the entire company name would be really long.
When it comes to choosing your domain name, also look at any social media sites you plan to use. To create a seamless online identity, it’s a good idea to use the same name for your domain and across all social sites so people can easily find you.
For example, our client mentioned above can easily be found on Facebook at facebook.com/gcokc. See how easy that is? There are a few different sites you can use to check name available for domains and social media, including namechk.com, knowem.com, and checkusernames.com.
How do I register a domain name? What will it cost?
There are multiple websites you can use to register a domain name. We currently use GoDaddy.com, because it’s easy to manage multiple domains if needed. Their checkout process can be confusing though, as they try to sell you more things than you really need. Another option is register.com, one of the original domain name registrars. Where you purchase your domain is really a matter of personal preference.
Cost can vary based on the popularity and demand for that domain. We’ve seen domain names that cost thousands of dollars, but for most domain names, you’re probably looking at a cost of $10 to $50 per year for the registration. Some may even be cheaper than that.
If your first choice of domain costs too much, try some alternate options that might be less expensive. If someone else already owns the domain you really want, it may be possible to buy it, but you’ll generally pay a pretty penny for it.
Do I need to purchase hosting at the same time I buy my domain?
You will need a hosting plan for your website, but it’s not required that you sign up for hosting when you buy the domain name. If you’re just launching a business, it’s a good idea to buy your domain and claim all your social media sites early in the process so you have them for later. Then you can explore your hosting options.
Check with the company building your website, as they may have a preferred website host or may have recommendations for trusted options. Here at T&S Online Marketing, we don’t require our clients to use our hosting, although there is some added security in doing so.
There you have it—common domain name questions answered all in one place. Now go forth and secure that domain!