You decided it was time your business had its own website. After all, everyone wants to take a look at one’s website nowadays, and websites are also a great way to attract customers who might not otherwise have found your business. You might even attract customers from around the world instead of just your hometown. And, if you’re a local business, a website can help people in your area discover you by searching terms like “electricians in Notting Hill” and the like.
But now you’re encountering a bunch of terminology. People are talking about things like “domains” and “hosting,” and although you probably have some idea of what they mean, you want to be sure you understand everything correctly. In this article, we’ll explain what the domain name of a website is, what it does, how your choice will affect your website’s success, and more.
What is a Website Domain: the Basics
All websites have an IP address consisting of a series of numbers punctuated with full-stops. Remembering strings of numbers and associating them with businesses, or finding new websites based on IP addresses is an awkward business, so domain names solve that problem. For example, if you want to check out BBC News, you can simply visit BBC.com. Search engines are geared for it, and you end up exactly where you want to be.
Your own domain name will form part of the URLs (addresses) of all the pages of your website. Let’s look at an example. If you visited us to find out what hosting is all about, you might land on this page: https://weareyellowball.com/hosting-a-website/. Let’s look at the different parts of this address in detail.
- “https” stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure which means you can be comfortable about the security of data transferred between yourself and the website.
- “weareyellowball” is our domain name and it tells you who we are.
- .com is termed the “top-level domain” and there are several options for that, including “.net,” “.biz,” and “.uk”
- “Hosting-a-website” is the “path” which directs you to that specific page and no other.
What are the Reasons for Having a Domain?
Being easy to remember and easy to find are obviously great reasons for having domain names, but there are other benefits too. Once you have a domain name combined with a top-level domain suffix, nobody else can copy it. It’s like owning real-estate. This also gives users greater confidence that they’re really looking at your information or are reaching out to you and not some imposter. You look like a pro.
As a side-note, website builders often use their domain as part of the website address, and that makes it very obvious that their users just knocked together a website on the cheap. Yes, you can have a “free” website without buying a domain, but it isn’t going to leave you looking professional.
Apart from returning customers being able to find your business by using your domain name, new customers can get an idea of what you do – especially if you have some claim to fame. Everyone knows what uk.gov does, for example. Finally, your website domain will begin to accumulate “authority” over time as more people interact with it, and that will help with your search engine rankings and help you to beat competitors.
What Types of Domains Are There?
The domain name that allows you the greatest freedom of choice is the one you choose as the “name” for your business. It doesn’t have to be exactly the same as your business name, but it should be pretty close. It’s followed by a suffix, and it’s usual for commercial businesses to select the “.com” suffix. It’s the most competitive choice, but some people will opt for different top-level domains.
For example, .IO domains are an option for people in the British Indian Ocean territories – and .uk says your website is UK-based. However, .com remains the most popular option, even if you aren’t actually “selling” anything directly from your website.
Other domain types include
.org – usually (but not always) indicating a non-profit organisation
.gov, exclusively for governmental organisations and agencies
.edu, used by educational institutions
.mil for military organisations
.int for intergovernmental organisations
How to Get a Domain Name
Although some of the best things in life still are free, free domain names don’t fall into that category. Domains come from domain registrars who register your name so that nobody else can use it. Free domains don’t offer good security and will leave your site looking untrustworthy – plus, you won’t be able to get an email address registered to a free domain.
Remember the question of trust among users that we touched on earlier? A trustworthy domain can be traced back to its owner – and that’s going to matter to tech-savvy users. If you want to find out what domain a website is on, go to lookup.icann.org to see who the registrar is.
Websites are for marketing, websites need domains, and looking professional is the basis for marketing. Choose one of the leading domain name registrars like GoDaddy, Domain.com or Bluehost. It all begins with your idea for a domain name, but it may not end there if your ideal domain name is already taken.
Begin your search for a domain by choosing something snappy and easy to remember. For example, if your business name is J. Parker Interiors, try for “jparkerinteriors.com.” Using our example, “jparkerinteriors.uk,” “parkerinteriors.com,” or “interiorsbyjparker” might be alternatives.
Once you’ve explored your options, their availability, and their costs, register your domain. Even if you don’t have a website yet, the domain name is now yours. Bear in mind that it will come up for renewal (usually annually).
Get Your Website Up and Running
Like a ship without an ocean, a domain without a website isn’t useful yet. Your next step will be getting that website designed to perfection and opened to the browsing public so that it can work for you.
WordPress is the ideal content management system since it makes it easy for you to add content and make adjustments. It’s completely customisable, but it can be hard to realise your vision if you want a slick and professional website that’s optimised for great user experiences and functionality.
Would you like to see what we can do? Visit our portfolio to take a closer look. We’re Yellow Ball, and our award-winning results speak for themselves. Considering a website for your business? We design for success. Get in touch right away. We’re with you every step of the way!