07 Feb The Plain-English Guide to Domains & Domain Names
In 2009, the domain Fly.com was sold for $1.76 million. Even though this domain seems like it would be highly sought after, the asking price still seems a little steep. But Fly.com attracts over a million unique visits per month, justifying its million dollar cost and illustrating just how important it is to have a domain that reflects your business’ name and what you actually do.
If you’re in the process of setting up a website for your business, you might’ve come across two terms: domain and domain name. On the surface, domain and a domain name might seem like the same exact thing. And if you dig a little deeper, that’s exactly the case — a domain and domain name are often used interchangeably.
What is a domain?
A domain is the part of a URL that’s after “https://”. In simple terms, it’s the address people type in to visit your website. For example, “hubspot.com” is HubSpot’s domain.
Image Credit: Computer Hope
Every website has an IP address, which is a unique string of numbers that connect computers to web servers, but people don’t want to memorize an IP address just to visit a website. Fortunately, domains fill in for a website’s IP address, allowing people to easily remember and identify websites.
Essentially, domains are like your house’s address. Instead of your friends using your house’s GSP coordinate every time they want to visit you, they can just plug in your street address, which is much easier to remember.
Not including its extension, like “.com”, the maximum length a domain can be is 63 characters. The minimum length can be one character.
If you want to acquire a domain, you must buy one and register it. To do this, visit a domain name registrar, like GoDaddy or Google Domains, plug your desired domain name in, check its availability and price, and then buy it, if it’s in your price range.
Domains also let you create a custom email address for your business. To do this, you just need to register your domain and then sign up for an email hosting service, like Microsoft Office 365 Business Essentials or Zoho.
The Parts of a Domain
There are two parts of a domain: the second-level domain and the top-level domain. The second-level domain is the part of your domain that comes before “.com”.
If you’re building a website for your business, consider buying a domain that reflects your business’s name. This will make it easier for people to find your website without needing to spend a lot of time scouring Google for it. For instance, hubspot.com’s top-level domain is “hubspot”.
The top-level domain is the part of your domain that comes after your second-level domain.
It specifies what type of entity your organization registers as on the internet. For example, HubSpot’s top-level domain is “.com” since we’re a commercial entity in the United States. Most American businesses also register their website with “.com”. Similarly, a lot of academic institutions in the United States register with a top-level domain of “.edu”. There are over 1,500 top-level domains available worldwide, but other common ones are “.org” and “.net”.
What is a domain name?
The term “domain name” is often used interchangeably with the term “domain”. That’s because they refer to the same thing — the specific text that people can reference to identify your website.