A domain name is the way that your site will be accessed and identified by users, and it is crucial to obtain the correct one for your business. When using a browser, your website has a specific location that will take users to your site - this is the domain name. For example, here at Ansta, our domain name is ansta.co.uk, with .co.uk being the specific domain.
Currently, there is a huge variety of domains that you can choose from when creating your website. Taking into consideration the nature of your company, the geographical location and your budget, the domain provides an immediate identity for your site. Whether you are a non-profit ‘.org’, a UK-based ‘.co.uk’, or an international ‘.com’, there is a domain available that is perfect for your site. It is not necessarily restrictive either - when possible, you can purchase multiple domains for your website.
Top Level Domains (TLDs)
At the very top of the domain hierarchy are Top Level Domains. This category is then broken down into two subcategories - generic TLDs (gTLDs) and country code TLDs (ccTLDs).
gTLDs are used by the large, international corporations that do business globally instead of regionally, and consist of .com, .org, .net, .biz and .info.
Alongside these are the ccTLDs, which are the country codes that regional businesses will use. A standard example of this is .au, which means the business deals within Australia. Due to heavy regulations of the .au domain, it has led to those that possess it being trusted as a local business owned by Australian citizens, which is extremely positive for the regional websites.
Regularly, ccTLDs will be combined with a second-level domain to provide both the nature, and the location of the business - the most common example of which is .co.uk. This states the website is both commercial (.co) and based in the UK (.uk).
Second Level Domains
At this point, the lines between domain hierarchy levels can become blurred. A SLD is a domain that comes before a TLD, such as .co.uk or .com.au, particularly when adding a country code onto your domain name. It provides more information on the company than just a basic TLD, and are usually much easier to obtain.
To obtain your chosen domain name with your preferred type requires you to register with the non-profit organisation ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), and pay a small registration fee. ICANN links with other registrars that register the name and the domain, which then must be renewed annually for the same price as the registration fee.
When creating your domain name, you’ll also need to consider web hosting. If you have a hosting service already in place, you must gain the name of their primary and secondary nameservers, which will usually be on their website. This isn’t necessary for registration however, and it is not required to have a hoster prior to getting a domain name.
Some domains are closed to the public, and restricted to certain sectors. Government websites (.gov) and educational institutes (.edu) are the most common, and the exclusivity means that any of these websites are instantly recognisable.