What is a domain name?

What is a domain name?

What is a domain name?

The domain name is basically the equivalent of a physical address for your website . In the same way that a satellite navigation system requires an address or zip code, a web page needs a domain name in order to be identified, and consequently directed to its files on a physical server . It is worth mentioning that the domain name is unique for each site in the world. 

A domain name consists of two main elements. For example, the domain name Facebook.comconsists of the name of the website (Facebook) and the name of the domain extension (.com). When a company (or a person) buys a domain name, it must make decisions regarding both elements. Mycompany.com or MyCompany.com.ar? Also, when acquiring the domain (which must be available, that is to say “free”) you must specify to which server to point it ; this process is called “delegation”, and normally requires two domain server names , -primary and secondary- in this case, corresponding to the server where we will host our site. 

The domain registries are supervised by an organization called ICANN ( Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers ). This entity specifies which domain extensions are available (.com, .net, .com.ar, .es, etc., and many new ones were added over time) and maintains a central database of where the domains are pointing. 
Each online website we visit consists, then, of two necessary elements: a domain name and a web server that hosts your files.

  • A web server is a physical machine that has, on its hard drives, the files and databases of our website. These files are transmitted over the network to visitors when they access our site from their computers and mobile devices.
  • The domain name is the nomenclature that people must write in the address bar of a browser in order to access any site. This domain is translated into an IP number ( internet provider ) that is, in short, the way to identify the server that stores the files. Without the domain name, people would have to remember the specific IP address of their server, and that simply is not going to happen.

How do domains work?

Domain names work by acting as a direct access to the server that hosts your website. 
Without a domain name, anyone who wants to visit a website must enter the full IP address. But the problem is that an IP address is difficult to memorize, let alone be included in advertising materials. Can you imagine a poster on the street that says “mobile offers are waiting for you in 192.168.345.2”? Hard to imagine, right? 

Domains also allow you to use redirects, which essentially implies the possibility that a user, when entering a site, is automatically redirected to another (it happens even without us noticing). Redirect can be useful for campaigns and microsites, or to forward people to special pages in your main site. In an advertising poster, a short address of the type www.celulares.com/sorteo is easier to remember than www.celulares.com/novedades/2019/galaxy/sorteo.html . Then, an easy URL is created which, when entered, automatically redirects us to the content that the owner or company of the page really wants us to see. 

Redirects are also useful to avoid confusion with spelling. For example, if you visit www.fb.com, you will be forwarded to www.facebook.com.

Different types of domains

Not all domain names follow the same formula, and while .com domains make up 46.5% of all global websites, that leaves a lot of room for other types of domain names such as .org and .net. In general, the most common types of domain names include:

TLD: top-level domains

A top-level domain is exactly what it looks like: a type of domain name that is at the top level of the Internet domain name system. There are more than a thousand TLDs available, but the most common include .com , .org , .net and. edu , but we also find cases like. audio or. tv

The official list of TLD is maintained by an organization called Internet Assigned Number Authority (IANA) and can be viewed here . IANA mentions that the TLD list also includes ccTLDs and gTLDs, which will be discussed below.

ccTLD: Top-level country code domains

The ccTLDs use only two letters and are based on international country codes, such as .us for the United States and .jp for Japan. They are often used by companies that are creating dedicated sites for specific regions, and can be a good way to signal users that they have arrived at the right place.

gTLD: generic top-level domain

A gTLD is essentially a TLD that does not depend on a country code. Many gTLDs are intended for a specific use case, such as .edu , intended for educational institutions. That said, you do not need to meet any specific criteria to register a gTLD, which is why .com is not used exclusively for commercial purposes. 
Other examples of gTLDs include .mil (military), .gov (government), .org (for non-profit organizations and diverse institutions) and .net , which was originally designed for Internet service providers (ISP) but now it is used more widely.

Other types of domain names

Although the domain categories mentioned above are the most frequent, there are other variations with which we can find ourselves.

Second level domains

We are talking about a domain that is directly below a top-level domain name. 
In Argentina, the example by antonomasia is com.ar (that is, trade within Argentina ). British companies occasionally use .co.ukinstead of .com , and another perfect example of a second-level domain is .gov.uk , which is often used by government institutions, and .ac.uk , which is used by academic institutions and universities.


Subdomains are useful because they do not require webmasters to acquire an additional domain name to create divisions within their site. Instead, they can create a subdomain that effectively points to a specific directory on the server. This can be very useful for campaign sites and other types of web content that must be kept separate from the main site. 

For example, Facebook uses developers.facebook.com to provide specific information for application and web developers who want to use the Facebook API. Another great example is support.google.com . 

Everyday, we will find offers.company.com (example of subdomain where the offers of a company are located) ores.mpresa.com(the subdomain where we will find the Castilian language of a site whose home presents another language).