Do all the technical terms around websites confuse you? You’re hardly alone. That is why we have prepared this handy article, to make things easier to understand. Plus, you will find some useful tips on how to choose the best domain name for your website.
What is the difference between domain name and hosting?
A domain name, or URL (Uniform Resource Locator, the unwieldy technical term for it), is simply what your website will be called online.
While it does not have to be your business name, most businesses choose their business name as their domain name. For example, Nike has chosen nike.com, Apple has bought apple.com, etc.
Hosting, however, refers to where your website files will be stored.
Think of it in terms of books: your domain name is the book’s title and your web hosting is the shelf the book is kept on. If you are looking for a book in a library with thousands of other books, you need to know both the book’s title and the shelf on which it is physically stored.
It is the same with websites: the book’s title is the domain name, while hosting refers to the shelf where you can find your book.
When you have both, you’re ready to start building your website.
Where can I buy a domain name?
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) commonly offer both domain name and hosting.
However, you can also buy domain names online, from businesses that are dedicated to this endeavor. These businesses will also tell you whether the name you are looking for is free. You can usually check online within seconds.
How do I pick a domain name?
You can choose your business name or you can pick something that is relevant to your line of work. You can also refer to your geographic location or any other keyword that is significant to your business.
Bear in mind that domain names that are too long will be hard for people to remember. They are also difficult to type and people might get confused regarding the spelling. Keep it as short as possible so that people remember it and can type it easily. Also, hyphens between the words are considered unnecessarily complicated.
Remember that there are billions of websites on the Internet and each website has a name that is unique; no two websites can have the same name. Therefore, competition for names can be fierce. If you can’t find the name you’re looking for, try a variant (e.g. use .media instead of .com) or use your services instead (e.g. myfineservices.com instead of mybusinessname.com).
What is a domain name extension?
A domain name consists of two parts: the name itself (e.g. mybusinessname) and an extension (e.g. .com).
This extension lets people know what your business is about.
A name ending in .edu means that the site has something to do with education. Names ending in .org are usually taken by organizations and institutions. Those ending in .gov are reserved for government agencies and government-related institutions.
If you’re interested in one of the above extensions, keep in mind that education and government sites have to go through a verification process in order to be registered, unlike the most common ending: .com. The .com extension implies that the website belongs to a company.
There are hundreds of extensions to choose from: .business, .gift, .school, .training, .media… With so many possibilities, a smart move is to use the extension as part of the name. For example, if you have a shop selling gifts, you can choose a name such as www.selected.gift or www.unique.gift. Users will understand immediately what your business is and you will be using the extension to your advantage.
While we used “www.” above to signify a website, its use has almost been outmoded in the US. It’s more of a generation reference nowadays and does not usually need to be included.
When choosing an extension, keep in mind that they can cause a bit of confusion for some. We are still mid “.com,” so if you choose a different extension—such as insync.media—you may have to remind people that there is no .com at the end of your name. This can be solved if you buy two domains, one with and one without the .com, and have one redirect to the other.
Make interesting and memorable combinations to create a catchy domain name!
What about buying an existing domain name?
Tim Berners-Lee, a British scientist at CERN, invented the World Wide Web (WWW) in 1989. Since then, millions of domain names have been registered. While many of them are now inactive, they are still ranked by search engines.
A so-called high-authority domain name will be more trusted by search engines. As such, it will come up first during searches.
When you buy an existing high-authority URL, you take advantage of this. The older the domain name, the more search engines have built connections to it and link it to specific keywords. This means that buying an older URL instead of a new one could be beneficial because people will find you faster and easier on search engines.
However, buying an existing URL is usually more expensive than purchasing a brand new one. This makes sense because an existing URL brings with it recognition and established links.
How many domain names should you buy?
If you can afford to, consider buying various domain names. You can buy several domain names and redirect them to your main website. This will form a web of different names, all leading to one main site.
Each name will perform a different purpose: choose domain names that describe your line of work or choose names with different grammar or spellings of your business name. That way, you will make sure that people will not miss your website and that, no matter how they spell your name, they will end up at your website rather than a competitor’s.
Purchasing multiple domain names also limits the choices your competitors might have. By buying several URLs you make sure your competitors are left with fewer options and cannot use the same tactic to lead potential customers to their own website.
If you set up a Google My Business Page, you can also set up a domain name linking to that.