What is a domain name?

It’s the unique address of a website, so it can only be associated with one website at a time. However, you can change the website that it points to as and when you want.

Can you have any domain name you want?

Within reason and as long as it’s available, you can create a domain name that suits you. Ideally it should be relevant to your branding, which is why most people choose to register their business name as their domain. When choosing a domain, follow basic rules such as: make sure it’s relevant, keep it short (the top 100,000 websites have on average nine characters in their domain names), make it easy to spell, ensure it’s memorable, make it sound unique. And if you want to market globally, pick a .com domain – many people assume a site’s address will end this way, given that 75% of all websites do.

Can you buy an existing domain name?

Yes. You may choose to do this if someone else has already registered the domain name and they are willing to sell it, or if you want a ‘generic category domain’ that represents your industry, for example, something like or Such domains are highly sought after and therefore very expensive. In 2007, $35 million was paid for, the highest ever deal made to purchase any domain.

How do you get a domain name?

Just go to one of the many domain name registrars, enter the domain name you want and check that it’s available.

How long do you own a domain name for?

Only as long as you pay the domain name registrar an annual fee for it to be registered to you. If you don’t renew, you will no longer be able to use the domain name, so strictly speaking you don’t actually own the domain.

How many domain names can you have at any one time?

As many as you want. To protect your online branding, you may want to register variants of a domain, for instance slightly different spellings or with a different TLD (Top Level Domain). Or, if you have projects under development, you may want to choose domains for these, which you may or may not use in the future.

How do you find out who owns a domain name?

You can find out who owns a domain name by using WHOIS, which gives details of the person or company that the domain is registered to.

What is a TLD?

This refers to the last part of a domain name immediately following the ‘dot’. There are two types of TLDs, generic ones such as .com, .org, .net, .gov, .biz and .edu, for example, and country-specific, like .uk (Great Britain), .ca (Canada) or .au (Australia). .com is an open TLD that anyone can register.

There are now over 1,000+ generic TLDs, but strict regulations on who can register some of them. For example, you can only register a country specific TLD if you live there, while others are limited to particular groups. So only schools, universities and colleges can register .edu, while .org is for public organization.

How important is your domain name?

Your brand is important, and your domain name is the foundation on which your online brand will be built. Your domain name is how users will find, remember, share and identify your company online. In both social media and search engines, the domain name is the primary way by which users know where the link will lead.

Choosing the right domain name is one of the most important decisions that a business can make because it has such an impact on your branding and marketing strategies. Even if your business already has a website up and running, you may still want to register other domain names for specific products or services, as part of a wider, more comprehensive digital strategy for your business that includes CRM and email marketing.

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Domain Names – Glossary

Subdomain – part of a larger domain.

Domain – the only domain that is not also a subdomain is the root domain. For example, and are subdomains of the domain, which in turn is a subdomain of the .com Top Level Domain (TLD).

Cybersquatting – also known as domain squatting. It’s when someone registers a domain name in bad faith, often with the intention selling it at an inflated price to someone who owns the trademark contained within the name.

Keyword domain – a domain name that uses a specific keyword so as to gain a higher search engine ranking.

Exact match domains (EMDs) – a domain that exactly matches a targeted keyword phrase.

IP (Internet Protocol) address – the set of numbers that are unique to a website. A domain name removes the need to memorize these.

Domain name system (DNS) – database of alphabetic and numeric information used by computers and users to find each other on the internet. In sum, the DNS is a network of computers, data files, software and people. The DNS is responsible for translating domain names into numerical IP addresses.

Domain registration – how you secure a unique domain name for a specified time.