A domain is a specific string of characters unique to a website. It’s used to easily and conveniently direct users to that site and provides a simpler alternative to the more complex internet protocol address.
How do domain names work?
All websites are associated with an internet protocol address, which comprises a long chain of numbers – or, in some cases, a mixture of numbers and letters. While it is possible to access a website via its IP address, lengthy numbers aren’t especially memorable. This is where a domain comes in. They function via a three-step process. When a user inputs a website domain into a search engine, the search engine accesses a domain server to find the location of the website and then shows it to the user. You might think of the name as being like a house address, directing somebody to a specific home.
What are top level domains?
Top level domains are the final part of a domain name and will be instantly familiar as .com, .co.uk, and .org, among others. There are more than 1,000 top level domains available. They’re designed with the simple purpose of identifying what a website is about. For example, a top level domain of .edu informs users that the website is educational, while .gov is clearly associated with the government. Country code top level domains are used to indicate the international associations of a website and are based on the country’s ISO code. For example .de indicates Germany and .us shows that a website is based in the United States.
Who owns a domain?
While it is possible to register a domain by searching for its availability, you can never actually claim full ownership. Domains remain under the jurisdiction of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, and registering one only grants you the right to use it for a certain amount of time, after which it will expire. Registrations usually last at least a year, at which point you will need to renew the name to continue using it. Numerous hosting platforms and companies offer to register names on an individual’s behalf, but they may register it in their own name rather than yours. This would technically give them rights over the name and let them use it however they choose, so it’s incredibly important to make sure that your name is registered correctly.