whats a domain name

Website Design Lesson 2

What is a Domain Name and How do you Choose a Domain Name?

In this section we look at some basic conepts to consider when thinking about your domain name choice and we hope that you have read Lesson 1 before this section (if you need to!).  We will be looking at:

What is a domain name

Why you need to actually ‘think’ of domain name in the first place and what the purpose is.

Choosing the right domain name

Why choosing the right domain name is important for you website and rankings.

Buying your domain name

Once you have chose you name we look at buying the domain name and what to consider.

Great to see you have moved on to Lesson 2 but if you have skipped Lesson 1 then please GO BACK and take a look at that first before you continue – you’ll thank me later for it!  Why?  Well, knowing the WWW +1’s and doing you ‘pre-thought’ beforehand is crucial so just take 10 mins out of your time to read Lesson once.  After all, this is your website and you want it to succeed right?  Good.  Lets move on.

You have now hopefully done all that ‘pre-thought’ and written down lots of information about your website and have some great ideas for you domain name.  Maybe you have already bought your domain name.  If so then this lesson may not be for you, but I would take a glance over it to see if there are any points that you have not considered yourself before going further on your website journey or skipping this lesson.

What is a Domain Name?

So yes, I know that this is a very basic question for some, but I have to assume that many of you reading this may be completely new to the terms.  Your website is not the domain name.  Think of your website as the design – the bones of what you are doing and the destination that your visitors to arrive at.   To get to any ‘destination’ you need transport, right?  To get to a town you may take the car or train.  To get to your website you need a domain name.  Something that people search for (initially – keywords will be discussed in later lessons!) and something that can be typed into the URL (the bar at the top of your browser that starts http or https or www).

For example – our website URL is: https://web2nation.com – and the URL always includes the domain name of course.  So, at some stage I chose that domain name so that people have the means to get to the website content right?  In Google you might search for “BBC” and that would then show you many URLS which point to the domain name https://www.BBC.co.uk or whatever the site and content is you are looking for.

Is the Domain Name Choice Important?

Now this is a question people are asking the whole time.  Join any internet or website design group and you will find this topic discussed all over.   I am not going into the detailed ins and outs of the importance of keywords versus domain name in this lesson as that is much more complex in its argument so lets just focus on the basics here before you more ‘knowing’ folk start to comment!

In essence – yes – it is very important unless you are a well-known brand.

Brand Domain Name

Let’s say for the sake of arguments that Fluffy the dog, mentioned in Lesson 1, has become world famous and now has millions of followers on YouTube et al.   Then the owner might buy the domain name Fluffy.com – the dog has become a brand name as it is well known so buying that domain name would be the right thing to do if the owner can but the chances are the name is already being used.  So they might choose fluffydog.com or any other name that relates to Fluffy as when people search for the name ‘Fluffy the dog’ then the chances are the persons website will show and with it the url with the domain name.  Brand names tend to get quite high in the rankings of internet search engines as they are already very well know so have some ‘authority’ in the eyes of Google and Bing et al. 

Unfortunately, the reality is you are not a well-known brand or concept idea so you are going to have to be a little bit more understanding when choosing your domain name.

If you are a company and using that name for the domain, if it’s available, then that is your choice.  For instance I could have chose www.AnthonysWebDesignService.com but I didn’t.  Why? Because it’s too long and it’s not that catchy.  I found that www.Web2Nation.com was shorter and had a much nice ring to it.  Plus I am not providing a service and I am not a brand! 

You need to also think about what people are searching for too and whether or not you need to include that in your domain name.

For example – a keyword is something that people search for and is a usual part of your site content and domain name.  So a person selling boats may choose www.bestboatsintheworld.com or www.redboats.com if the boats they sell are red!  You will see that lots of sites these days, usually affiliated sites, have domain names (web addresses/URLs) such as www.bestkitchenspoons.com as they want you to buy kitchen spoons from their site so they want you to notice that in the domain name as you believe the site is relevant to what you need – what you search for.

So, stop and think a minute.  Have you chosen or going to choose a random domain name that no one is ever going to be looking for on the search engines or are you going to choose a domain name that people will be searching for or, at least, has keywords that people search for?

So can keywords in my domain name helps rankings in the search engines?

Can of worms here.  Some will argue yes and some will argue no.  You are welcome to share your thoughts in the comment section below!  For me it’s a yes but I don’t work in the big internet search engine offices so do not know what their algorithms for ranking sites are – apart from good general practices of course.  I really just think it’s good practice to include something in your domain name that actually relates to your site – your content.  For our web2nation.com it’s the ‘web’ part that is linked to the site.  Because it is not a well known brand no none is going to be searching, at the moment at least, for the term ‘web2nation’ but I, instead, rely upon my content to bring in the visitors – such as this article you are reading.

Let’s say you search for “What’s important when choosing a domain name?” into Google or Bing.  The search engine puts sites that are relevant to your search keyword in order of ranking.  As this site is new, I will be lucky to touch any page at the moment, but as the site grows Google and Bing will start to see the site as relevant, as worthy of being in their ranking and clicked on by you the searcher.  So if you see this site, the domain name, in your search query then you will trust it as it is ranking high and actually looks like it is going to be talking about something related to your keyword search query.  If you see a site with the domain name www.socksthatsmell.com then are you going to trust that that site is talking about choosing a domain name?  No.  And that is the failing of choosing the correct domain name.

Don’t forget that the whole point of you taking that time to design your site, write content and choose the correct domain name is to get people to visit! 

So I can get a great domain name then!

Sorry to disappoint but the name you are probably thinking of buying has already gone I’m afraid.  Think about how long the WWW has been around now and all the good names have been bought.  Sure, you may be lucky enough to get the domain you want and I hope you do!  But chances are you are going to have to do some serious thinking about the name you want and searching for that domain name in the first place.

There is more complexity to buying domain names, such as expired/expiring domains, but I want to keep this lesson more simplified so do subscribe to this site on the home page or via YouTube for tutorial videos as I will be looking at domain name hunting, such as buying expired domain names and domain names with better authority in future lessons, but in the mean time lets try and keep this simplified to start with.

Do I Choose .com .net .info .co.uk .in .es?

So what you are talking about is the gTLD – (generic top-level domains) and the ccTLDs (country code top-level domains) but don’t worry about remembering those terms as we need to keep this simple.

If you want to target a specific country then choose .co.uk for the UK or .es for Spain or .in for India etc.  but do remember that once you choose that name it is a real ache to try and change to another name later in the life of your website adventure!  That’s’ why you need to think about these things now.

So why would you choose a country specific domain name such as thisisannexmaple.co.uk – well, lets say you are an electrician in the UK.  You  would be better choosing www.Iamaukelectirican.co.uk possibly as it states then you are in the UK and not someone else in the world.  If I am searching for a UK based electrician then I would click on you URL to get to your website.  If you called your site iamaukelectrician.com then I still might click on your site as you have mentioned where you are – in the UK – but generally speaking people do not have that in their domain name.

Usually people will have even more local domain names such as www.ChesterElectrician.co.uk – and that is even more specific both to the person searching for an electrician in Chester and to make sure that the Chester they mean is in the UK and not the USA.  You will also notice that there are 2 keywords in the domain name too – ‘Chester’ and ‘Electrician’ so it makes the name even more relevant to what the person is searching for.  You may include other words such as ‘in’ ‘the’ and so on – e.g. www.TheElectricanChester”.

However, if you are reaching people from all over the world then you would be better choosing .com, .info or .org – depending on what your website is about (remember Lesson 1 – WWW +1).

Me?  I prefer the .com in most cases but the search engines given more relevance to .com .info and .org in most cases for globally based websites although that is still up for argument but I would say take a look in the Google searches for what gTLD or ccTLD comes up when you search.

Buying the Domain Name – Don’t forget the Hosting!

You need to go to a domain name provider and see if the domain you want is available.  For example – I may use a provider called One.com.  I go to their site and there will be a search box where I can see what domain names are available and it will even give me ideas.  Again I will be showing this in a little more detail on my YouTube channel.

Once you have chosen a name you need to think about hosting too.  I am not going to give lots of information about hosting providers here or those that you can buy domains from as there are too many out there but some main ones are One.com, GoDaddy and Namecheap – like I said I am not affiliated with any of them nor am I saying which is best to use – that’s up to you.  What I would be saying is if you have some good tips or experience of providers then share this in the comments box by all means.

Just one thing I would urge you to think about is that the domain name and hosting (hosting is which provider will store your website) can be sold separately so do be aware of costs!  Do your research on that bit but also look at my YouTube tutorial for an example.

I Have My Domain Name – Now What?

If this is your first name, then congratulations!  You have just made a great and brave step into the world of designing and starting to build you own website!  You have even started to think about SEO (search engine optimisation) whilst choosing that domain too – something that is discussed in much more detail later on.

Now you have your domain you’re ready for the next step which is thinking about your content!  WHAT? I hear you scream!  Why am I talking about content and not actually building your site yet?  Well….move on over to Lesson 3 and you will find out why!

So that’s a short and hopefully easy to follow introduction to choosing your domain name and some important things to consider.  Remember – you are in charge of your journey here so don’t blame me for any mistakes you make when choosing a name, even if following this advice!  You will make mistakes when starting out in the great WWW – we all do – and you will find that you need to pick and choose from the information I give as you find your own path – this information is for your consideration and is not a blueprint – read and start your own journey!

As always – this is our site as I really want you to input your thoughts and ideas in the comments box below.  Has this info helped at all?  Is there something missing?  Something you want to know more about?  Something you could share about buying a domain with others?  Please comment and share!


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