In our last article, we kicked off the ultimate guide series on hosting and domain. In this concluding part, we will take a look and domain name and the concept of domain name extensions.
What is a Domain?
A domain is the address of your website on the internet. It is the name that is typed into a web browser to access a website. For example, the domain name for WP Learnonline is www.wplearnonline.com. A domain name is unique and can only be registered to one owner at a time. What this means is that domain names have an expiration period (usually a year ) and after such expiration period, the domain may become available for registration again.
Domain Name Extensions
Closely related to the concept of domain names are domain name extensions. A domain name extension is the last part of a domain name that follows the dot (.) symbol. The extension indicates the type of website or organization associated with that domain name. The most common domain name extensions are .com, .org, and .net, with the .com extension being the most widely used. There are however different categories of domain name extensions and we will explore them below.
Common Categories/Types of Domain Name Extensions
As mentioned in the preceding section, there are many types of domain name extensions available. In this section, we explore the most common categories and offer insights as to their suitability.
1. Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs)
Generic Top-Level Domains are the most commonly used domain name extensions. They are open for registration to anyone and are not restricted to a specific geographic location or type of business.
Some examples of gTLDs are:
.com: Originally intended for commercial businesses but is now used by various types of websites.
.org: Originally intended for non-profit organizations but is now used by various types of organizations.
.net: Originally intended for network-related businesses but is now used by various types of websites.
As a rule of thumb, it is always advisable for businesses and brands to register a .com domain name if it is available.
2. Country Code Top-Level Domains (ccTLDs)
Country Code Top-Level Domains are domain name extensions representing a specific country or geographic location. They are often used by businesses or individuals who are based in that country because they easily indicate what region or country the website is relevant to. There are 312 country code top-level domains established for specific countries and territories, identifying them with a two-letter string. Examples of ccTLDs include:
.ng:The ccTLD for Nigeria
.us: The ccTLD for the United States of America.
.ca: The ccTLD for Canada
.uk: The ccTLD for the United Kingdom.
You can find a comprehensive list of ccTLDs here
ccTLDs are suitable for businesses and organizations that operate within a specific country or region. For big multi-national organizations or businesses, ccTLDs are usually used to serve a country-specific version of their website to customers in that country.
ccTLDs can help establish a local identity. They can also help with local search engine optimization as they are a way to tell search engines that a website is for a particular demography or region. However, a ccTLD may not be suitable for businesses looking to expand globally.
3. Sponsored Top-Level Domains (sTLDs)
Sponsored Top-Level Domains are domain name extensions that are sponsored by a specific organization or group. They are often used by businesses or individuals who are affiliated with that organization or group. Examples of sTLDs include:
.gov: is only available to government agencies and organizations of a country.
.edu: is only available to accredited schools and universities.
.mil: is only available to military organizations.
Using a sTLD can help give a website credibility and legitimacy, especially if the website is affiliated with the sponsoring organization. However, they are not available for use by the general public and may not be suitable for businesses or individuals who are not affiliated with the sponsoring organization. Registering this type of domain also requires certain conditions to be met so as to verify and confirm the legitimacy of the organisation or agency seeking to register it.
In the case of .gov and .mil for example, the procedure to be followed varies from country to country. Therefore it is advisable to research the procedures applicable to your region if you seek to register this type of Top-Level Domain. In Nigeria for example, The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) provides on its website, the conditions to be met before the registration of .gov.ng or .mil.ng domain in Nigeria can be approved and registered
In a similar fashion, registering a .edu.ng also has conditions that must be fulfilled before it is approved. You can find more information on these requirements here
How Domains Work with Hosting
When you register a domain, you are essentially renting the right to use that domain name for a certain period of time, usually a year. To register a domain, you need to choose a domain name registrar and pay a fee. Hosting providers in most cases also provide domain registration services. Once you have registered your domain, you can use it to create your website.
When someone types your domain name into their web browser, their computer sends a request to a domain name system (DNS) server, which translates the domain name into an IP address. The IP address is a unique identifier for the server where your website is hosted. The DNS server then sends the request to the server where your website is hosted, and the website is delivered to the user’s web browser.
Why are Hosting and Domain Important?
Hosting and domain are essential components of any website because without hosting, your website would not be accessible on the internet as there would be no “apartment” for your website to “live” on the Internet. Without a domain also, it will be impossible for people to find your website as your website would have no “name” by which it can be identified on the Internet. It is therefore the case that both a domain name and a hosting plan must be available before a website can be accessed on the Internet.
In this concluding part to the ultimate guide series of hosting and domain, we have explored what domains and domain name extensions are. While hosting provides the infrastructure and technologies needed to make your website accessible on the internet, a domain is an address that people use to find your website. It is also important that you choose the right domain name that largely represents what your brand or organization stands for as your domain name can have a huge effect on how your brand is perceived by the general public. By understanding the role that hosting and domain play in a website, you can make informed decisions about which type of hosting and which category of domain name extensions to use for your brand!