You’ve heard the term “domain name” before, but what does that really mean? The simple answer is that a domain name is what you type into the address bar on an Internet browser to view a specific website. Think of a domain name as your virtual address on the internet – it is how people find your website on the wild, wild web. There are currently more than 330 million domain names registered, and that number is increasing daily.
As an example, when you type www.thisisarray.com into a web browser “thisisarray.com” is the domain name. The “.com” portion of the domain name is call a Top Level Domain (TLD). If you think of “thisisarray” as the house number portion of a physical address, the “.com” portion is equivalent to the street name. Currently, there are more than 1,000 TLDs that are available on the Internet. Some are completely open to the public, and some are restricted to businesses and organizations that meet certain requirements (e.g. “.edu,” “.gov,” etc.). The most commonly known TLDs are:
- .com – Commercial use
- .net – Originally meant to be used for network sites
- .org – Originally meant to be used by non-profit organizations
- .edu – Colleges, universities, and higher education organizations
- .gov – Government organizations, not available for private use
- .mil – Military use only, not available for private use
What TLD Should I Use?
Although there are many different TLDs to choose from, it is recommended that you use “.com” when possible. Other than the list above, other TLDs haven’t become popular or widely used, so users may not remember that your website is not a “.com” and could give up on trying to find your site.The entire list of TLDs is maintained by the Internet Assigned Number Authority (IANA). to see a complete list of TLDs, click here.
Picking a Domain Name
Once you have decided which TLD to use, it’s time to determine the best domain name for your business. An important first consideration is the length of the domain name. Keep it as short as possible. The shorter the domain name, the easier it will be to remember and type correctly. Shorter domain names are also visually more appealing on marketing materials, both physical and digital. “Thisisarray.com” looks much cleaner than something like ‘Wearethecompanyarraydigital.com’ and is much easier to type and remember. This is an obvious exaggeration, but the more concise your web address, the better chance you have of gaining web traffic. Spelling is also important – try not to get too creative with spelling, since that can confuse users. Stick with common spellings for the components of your domain name.
Whenever possible, domain names should also represent the brand or image that you or your company are trying to portray. Generally, companies will try to get their actual company name, or at least a part of it, as their domain name because it makes it much easier to remember or find through a search engine. For example, walmart.com, amazon.com, and google.comall use the company name as the domain name. Even if a user can’t remember the specific website domain, they are likely to type in the company name into a search engine and find the site that way.
Picking the optimal domain name may take some time, but it is an important part of branding your company. Your domain is your online identity and allows current and prospective clients to find your business. Just remember to keep it short, meaningful, and easy to remember.
When you’re ready to buy a domain name, here’s some factors that we recommend considering. Also, domain names aren’t free, so here’s what to expect when purchasing a domain name for your site.