A website domain is the gateway people use to access your digital content, so it’s important to choose the right one. With so many options available, it can get confusing. The following guide will help you understand what a domain is and how to go about creating one that’s right for your personal brand or business.
What is a Domain?
Computers and websites communicate with one another through numeric values called IP addresses (e.g. 13.243.453.31). An IP address is difficult to remember and requiring users to access different websites by inputting their IP address would be nearly impossible, so we use domain names instead. A domain name is simply a readable placeholder for an IP address. By typing in a domain name, your browser can connect with a root server and associate your domain name with the correct IP address.
There are two parts to a domain name. The primary part is the top-level domain (TLD) and it’s usually represented with a popular tag like “.com” or “.org.” The second-level domain (SLD) commonly contains the name of your website. For instance, in Yahoo.com the SLD would be “Yahoo” and the TLD is the “.com.”
Choosing a Domain
The domain is the way most people will access your website, so it’s important to choose one that’s easy to remember, while also expressing what it is your website is about. Your SLD should be simple and to the point, usually just the name of your company or blog. Avoid unnecessary icons or slang and try to focus on making your domain SEO friendly.
When choosing a top-level domain for your site, it’s almost always best to go with “.com” for any business or blog. It’s the most commonly used TLD and the one people will default to when trying to access a website. However, there are other options available. The following are some of the more common TLD options and what they’re designed to represent.
• .com (commercial) – The most commonly used TLD and designed for commercial websites.
• .co (company) – An alternative to .com, meant to be used by companies and businesses.
• .org (organization) – Designed for use by organizations and non-profits.
• .edu (education) – Specifically created for educational institutions, like universities.
• .net (network) – Designed for network websites.
• .gov (government) – This is intended for government websites only and is not available for public registration.
There are over 100 different top-level domains to choose from and you can check the full list to find the one best suited for you.
How to Get Started
Once you’ve chosen your domain name, you’ll need to register it. There are numerous sites available that will do this for you, like HostGator or BlueHost. Most sites operate on similar pricing plans and services, but it’s important to do your research and find the one that works best for you.
You’ll also need to find a template or website creation tool to help you design your site. Currently, WordPress is the most widely used website content management system available. It’s a great starting point for those unfamiliar with webpage design.
Once you’ve chosen an appropriate SLD for your site and paired it with the right TLD you’ll be well on your way. Remember to choose something memorable, to the point, and that represents what your site is about. The right domain name will make your site easier to find and can help keep people coming back in the future.
Ben Kerns is a fan of all things related to technology and the Internet, especially when it comes to discovering new ways to further merge the two together. When he's not plugged in, he enjoys the great outdoors, healthy living, and singing off-tune to cheesy country songs.
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