domain namesPerhaps the most fundamental of all fundamentals for web users and internet marketers is the domain name. Every server (computer) on the internet has an address called an IP address which is just a series of numbers and dots such as which is not exactly easy to remember so the domain system was created to add user friendly names instead. So for example is simply an easy to remember address which behind the scenes maps to an IP address (actually a great many ip addresses but that is not important for you now).

Domains have what are called ‘extensions’ which in the case of is the ‘.com’ part. Traditionally .com was for commercial web sites (and is the most popular) while .org was for organizations and .net was for techy stuff. These days people grab whatever they can get because all the good names were taken years ago. As well as the big three extensions there are also country extensions such as for United Kingdom, .ie for Ireland, .us for United States etc. and even .eu for European Union. There are also others such as .biz and now a whole array of new extensions is being created. So there is in fact a huge choice of domains and extensions which you could use (subject to trademark restrictions and such like).

To get a domain for your own site you simply go to a domain registrar such as Namecheap and use their search form to find an available domain (which can take a while!) then when you find one you like which is available you register it there and pay a small fee of around $10 – it is important to understand that you only ‘own’ that domain for as long as you keep paying for it and that $10 fee is per year.

Once you have registered your domain name you need to point it to your web site, wherever that may be. To do this there is a system called DNS or Domain Name System which just maps easy to remember domains to hard to remember IP addresses. Any time you type in a website address in your browser, such as, your browser is actually doing a DNS lookup to find out where the location of that site is on the internet so it can present you with the content hosted and served from there. DNS is actually a distributed system and DNS records (the thing that translates your domain to your IP) are propagated around the net and can be cached locally, by your ISP for example, to enable faster domain name lookups.

Your web site hosting company will tell you what IP you can use and it may be dedicated to you alone or it may be shared with other users on the same hosting server. You will need a minimum of two DNS servers (also called nameservers) to point your domain to an IP – this is to ensure if one DNS server crashes, your site can still be reached.

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