Domain names are, in layman’s terms, how people find you on the internet. They identify individuals’ or organisations’ spaces online and make it easy to visit or contact them. When you set up a website, you usually buy a domain, which usually includes an email address. Read on to find out more.
How do domain names work?
Simply put, you type a name into your browser and it sends the data to a DNS server hosted by your internet service provider or a third party. This communicates with a name server, managed by the domain owner’s web hosting company. From there, the request goes to the web server that hosts the website.
Once it has made its way down the chain, the website information is passed back and rendered in your browser so that you can interact with it.
What is the difference between domain names and URLs?
People often use these terms interchangeably, but they are not the same. Domain names are part of URLs – as an example, take the URL https://google.com/maps. Google.com is the domain’s name: the website itself. Https, which stands for hypertext transfer protocol secure, is the transfer protocol and means that hypertext data is transferred over a secure connection. Finally, maps is a specific area of the domain. It is like saying “Go to the living room” instead of “Go to my house”.
How do you get a domain name?
You can buy domain names from many reputable providers, such as https://www.names.co.uk/domain-names. Most have different packages that allow you to rent a domain name for anywhere from one year up to ten years. You can usually buy other services to go along with the domain, such as email addresses.
The price depends on how long you want to hold the name and what ending you choose. Generic endings, such as .com, are often more expensive than specific ones, such as .shop.
What if someone else has the domain you want?
This isn’t uncommon. Sometimes a good name is just taken, sometimes a smart buyer is engaging in a practice called domain squatting: buying up useful domain names and selling them for high prices. Fortunately, if you don’t want to pay these prices, most domain providers will suggest similar names or at least let you check whether different variation are available.