Domain name is a website name that users type into the browser’s URL address bar to load a site. Speaking in technical terms, it represents one or more IP addresses. Please note that each website is unique and there are no two same domains on the Internet.
Domain name meaning can be easily confused with DNS or other technical terms, especially if you don’t have basics on how the Internet works. However, in this article, we’ll provide an easy explanation of what the domain name is, how to register it and what it does.
In a world of computers, each one has its own IP address. As mentioned earlier, website name represents an IP address. Every domain name explanation guide on the Internet points out that IP addresses are hard to remember (of course, as they consist of many digits). Therefore, people use more understandable names for websites.
In the simplest form, once you start a business, the first step is to register the company’s name. The domain name could resemble JSC company.
For example, if you decide to open a smartphone shop in real life, you need to register the brand name — f.i., “xPhone” shop. The same thing applies when launching a new website — you need to register the domain, for instance, www.xphone.com
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Explanation of how domain name works
People enter domain names in their browser’s URL bar to reach preferred websites online. In a global network, the submission reaches Domain Name System (DNS) server which matches the website name with a linked IP address, and forwards the user to the server where a website is hosted.
As a result, you access the site you wanted. A more detailed sequence of events is listed below.
Sequence of events after entering a domain name into URL bar
- The browser checks the local cache to see a recently retrieved DNS data to find a matching IP record for the address you entered.
- In case the matching record isn’t in local cache, the browser sends a query to ISP’s DNS server.
- The browser sends out an HTTP request to the server.
- The server replies with an HTTP response.
- The browser starts rendering the HTML.
- The browser sends requests for extra resources included in HTML file, for instance, CSS or JS files, images by repeating steps 3-5.
- Once the page is loaded, the browser might send more async requests if required.
In simple words, think that domain name works like a smartphone address book. Let’s say you want to make a call to a friend.
Firstly, you enter friend’s name in the address book (=a website name in the browser). The address book (=the DNS system) links friend’s name to the unique phone number (=the IP address). Finally, you can talk to the person who you called to (=browser loads the site).
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Domain name IP address meaning
Website Internet Protocol (IP) address is a specific string of numbers, such as 126.96.36.199 which is linked to your domain name. All websites are linked to their unique Internet (IP) addresses which are assigned by hosting companies.
The IP address is like a person’s individual ID code in the passport. It’s unique and belongs to one person (=domain name).
All of your friends have ID codes just like all websites have IP addresses. However, it would be difficult to remember all ID codes of your friends, so you call buddies not by their IDs, but by names.
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It is relatively hard to remember all IP addresses of your frequently visited sites. Luckily, DNS is doing its job to solve this problem. Now, instead of using long strings of random numbers, you can access a website by typing its website name in your browser.
Here’s a simple explanation of what is domain name with example. Instead of typing 188.8.131.52 to reach our website, you just need to type www.rankapage.com, which is way easier to remember, right?
The meaning of Domain name extensions
Domain name extensions are also known as top-level domain, or the most generic part of a website address. Typically, it starts after a dot in the website name. The most popular ones are .com, .org, .co, .us, .net.
The whole list of extensions is classified into several groups and can be used for different purposes. Each of these are explained below with examples:
- Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLD). These are most used and popular extensions. Examples are well known as .com, .info, .net and .org;
- Generic-Restricted Top-Level Domains (gTLD). These are similar to TLDs but their eligibility is controlled more strictly. Examples include .biz, .name and .pro.
- Sponsored Top-Level Domains (sTLD). Typically sponsored and offered by private organizations or agencies that establish and implement conditions regarding eligibility to use these TLDs. For example,.AERO, .ASIA, .CAT, .COOP, .EDU, .GOV, .INT, .MIL, .MOBI, .JOBS, .MUSEUM, .TEL, .TRAVEL;
- Country Code Top-Level Domains (ccTLD). Top-Level domains with country code extension are typically used for websites intended for local market. Examples include .CN, .CO, .DE, .EU, .UK and so on.
- Reserved Top-Level Domains. These extension examples are reserved by Internet Assigned Numbers Authority: .TEST, EXAMPLE, .INVALID, .LOCALHOST, .TEST.
To learn more about top-level domains, please see full article on our website.
Domain name registration basics
It is essential to register the website name before you can use it. The domain can be bought and registered via trusted registrar.
IP and domain name assignment information is stored on the ICANN database. Technically you can’t buy a domain, because you are paying money for the right to use it. In other words, you rent the domain and as long as you renew validation of it, it will be yours.
Picking a perfect name is one of the most important steps when starting your online business and creating a website. Keep in mind that good website name must be easy to remember, and as a consequence, it represents your business for a lifetime. You can check our guide on creating a good website name here.
It is recommended to use domain name generators such as Lean Domain Search, DomainsBot or Namestation to pick the best name. These tools allow checking domain name availability and redirect you to trusted registrars. Once you’re on registrar’s website, you can check the price for the domain and purchase it.
Please pay attention that buying a name on the registrar won’t provide you with a ready-to-use website. Unfortunately, there are still multiple steps to take before you create a website which can be publicly accessed via browsers.
Frequently Asked Questions
The registration of a new domain name costs around 10$ to 35$ for one year. Price depends on the registrar and TLD also you will need to renew it annually.
No, you do not. During the registration of the domain name, you can choose the length of the borrowing term — from 1 to 10 years. If domain term is about to expire, you can renew the domain and keep using it. Important – if you forget to renew the domain and somebody else registers it, you lose it.
Domain name is a digital name of your website. A website is a whole page with its own structure filled with information. To illustrate, imagine that domain name is the same as a book name, and all content inside: design, pictures, data is a website.
In this case domain name is the address of the place there website hosted. Web hosting is a computer/server which hosts all data of your site.
You can check or contact the owner of domain scanning it on website on WhoIS website. Even more, you can find interesting information about a domain on WhoIs database.