A domain name is a company's unique identifier on the Internet. The same domain name can be used with a company's Web address and their email addresses.
The format for a professional Web address is usually "www.company.com" while an email address is generally myname.com. A Web address does not have to begin with "www" but it has become standard over time and is easy to remember.
In this digital age it is not a good idea to use another
company's domain name in your Internet dealings. For example, the email addresses
company.com or company.com do not properly identify your business and using those domains implies your company might not be Net savvy. Similarly, it looks unprofessional to have your Web address
in the form: http://www.myisp.com/mycompany/.
Domain names are part of the Internet's domain name system (DNS), which allows
"user-friendly" names to replace the more difficult numerical IP addresses, such
as "126.96.36.199", that computers actually use to direct information to other
Domains must be registered with an official Internet standards body. For
example, in the United States, Network Solutions keeps a registry of the
domain names. Another standards body (in the United States it's Internet
Assigned Numbers Authority [IANA] ) keeps a database of the IP addresses.
Each domain name has two main parts, in the
TOP LEVEL DOMAIN NAMES
The original purpose of top level domains (TLD's)
was to help define the type of enterprise
named in the second level. Three top level domain names - .com, .net
and .org -
are designated as unrestricted, which allowed anyone to apply for a name using that
TLD suffix. Use of the remaining five TLD's was restricted to
Unrestricted top level domain names.
The explosion of the Internet, the
resulting scarcity of names, and marketing strategies have resulted in the three unrestricted
top level domains losing their original distinctions. Even
restricted top level domains are changing to accommodate the increased demand. This
pressure for names has led to discussions of new top level domains, but the Internet's
overseeing standards body -- The Internet
Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) -- has not yet released a formal
Here's a list of the original three unrestricted
top level domain names:
- .com, an unrestricted domain designed for companies or commercial enterprises.
- .net, an unrestricted domain intended for network providers and their
- .org, an unrestricted miscellaneous category for organizations that didn't
fit anywhere else, mostly used by not-for-profit organizations.
The .com TLD has more registrations than all of the other TLD's
combined and its recent growth has been astounding.
The first .com domain name - symbolics.com - was registered on 15 March 1985 by Symbolics Inc., a computer systems firm in
Massachusetts, USA. By 1992, fewer than 15,000 .com domain names had been
registered. However, by 2010 that number had grown to 84 million domain names, including 11.9 million online business and e-commerce sites, 4.3 million entertainment sites, 3.1 million finance-related
sites and 1.8 million sports sites.
Restricted top level domain names.
Even though the Internet is a worldwide
network, some of the restricted domain names (e.g., .mil) were reserved for specific U.S.
use. These special U.S. names date back to origins of the Internet as a U.S. military project
sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
Here's the original list of restricted top level
- .int , a restricted domain name for international databases and organizations
established by international treaties
- .gov, a restricted domain name intended for any kind of government agency or
office but which is now only for U.S. federal government agencies. State and local agencies
are being registered under the country domain of .us (see "International
naming conventions, below)
- .mil, a restricted domain name for use only by the U.S. military
- .edu, a restricted domain name originally intended for all educational
institutions but now limited to four-year colleges and universities.
International naming conventions.
In addition to the seven
listed above there is one further category of domain names: country codes. These codes
distinctly identify the nation in which the domain name was registered.
Some country code top level domains, or ccTLDs, have certain criteria for persons or
entities that wish to register, such as a residence requirement. For
example, the .au top level domain name belongs to Australia and is a
ccTLD. The Australian registry requires that a domain name must be part
of an Australian registered business or company name. Most ccTLDs
Here's a list of the country codes currently in use:
AE United Arab Emirates
AG Antigua and Barbuda
AN Netherlands Antilles
AS American Samoa
BA Bosnia and Herzegovina
BF Burkina Faso
BN Brunei Darussalam
BV Bouvet Island
CC Cocos (Keeling) Islands
CF Central African Republic
CI Cote D'Ivoire (Ivory Coast)
CK Cook Islands
CR Costa Rica
CS Czechoslovakia (former)
CV Cape Verde
CX Christmas Island
CZ Czech Republic
DO Dominican Republic
FK Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
FO Faroe Islands
FX France, Metropolitan
GB Great Britain (UK)
GF French Guiana
GQ Equatorial Guinea
GS S. Georgia and S. Sandwich Isls.
HK Hong Kong
HM Heard and McDonald Islands
HR Croatia (Hrvatska)
IO British Indian Ocean Territory
KN Saint Kitts and Nevis
KP Korea (North)
KR Korea (South)
KY Cayman Islands
LC Saint Lucia
LK Sri Lanka
MH Marshall Islands
MP Northern Mariana Islands
NC New Caledonia
NF Norfolk Island
NT Neutral Zone
NZ New Zealand (Aotearoa)
PF French Polynesia
PG Papua New Guinea
PM St. Pierre and Miquelon
PR Puerto Rico
RU Russian Federation
SA Saudi Arabia
SH St. Helena
SJ Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands
SK Slovak Republic
SL Sierra Leone
SM San Marino
ST Sao Tome and Principe
SU USSR (former)
SV El Salvador
TC Turks and Caicos Islands
TF French Southern Territories
TP East Timor
TT Trinidad and Tobago
UK United Kingdom
UM U.S. Minor Outlying Islands
US United States
VA Vatican City State (Holy See)
VC Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
VG Virgin Islands (British)
VI Virgin Islands (U.S.)
VN Viet Nam
WF Wallis and Futuna Islands
ZA South Africa
SECOND LEVEL DOMAIN NAMES
Second level domain names are almost completely unrestricted. That's why they're so
important in marketing your site. There are three rules you must follow when
naming your site:
- All characters must be alphanumeric, meaning letters and numbers, with the exception of
a hyphen ("-").
- The hyphen cannot be used at the beginning or the end of the domain name.
- The second level domain name has a maximum character length of
More information about rules for
specific domains can be found in our Domain Name
NEW TOP LEVEL
A large number of new Top Level Domain names have recently been released for registration.
Despite the existence of alternative top level names the majority of the business world is buying names and branding companies with .com and .net extensions and ignoring other possibilities. This makes sense because presently the highest trafficked sites and the easiest sites to remember all use .com and .net. Another relevant point is that
many web browsers do automatic lookups of .com addresses but no others.
We expect that .com and .net domain names will hold their value practically forever and only lower profile companies and sites will experiment with alternative top level domains.
Here's a list of the new domains now available:
DOMAIN NAMES AS AN
Today .com and .net domain names have considerable resale value since they are business investments that can identify your company on the Internet practically forever.
Most companies over time will conduct a considerable portion of their business
on the Web, if not all of it. The most important aspect of generating new business and conducting business on the Internet is a domain name that is easy to remember for your customers and prospective customers. Also, an important consideration is to have relevant "key words" as part of your domain name that will enable customers to find your site easily through Web based search engines.
Many companies feel that they are stuck with a marginal name that they have been using for some time. However, you should realize that you can easily have multiple URL addresses (which include your domain name) point to the very same Web site. This will allow you to keep your legacy domain name and to have multiple new ebusiness names to conduct commerce with and list in the search engines.
RESERVE YOUR DOMAIN
TODAY BEFORE SOMEBODY ELSE DOES!
In our opinion, investing a few dollars to permanently control prominent sounding Internet brand names is a deal that you would be foolish to wait on. Procrastinating risks that your competitors beat you to the names that you like or that their prices continue to rise.
If you have specific questions, you can
find more information in our Help Center.