What is a domain name? The best beginner’s guide in 2024

39 min read
Derek Miller

What is a domain name? As a small business, why should you care about having one?

Your domain name is the backbone of your digital presence. It’s one of the most important things for your visitors to know and remember, and it’s a critical component of your omnichannel marketing strategy. Because of this, knowing what a domain is can go a long way in setting your online presence up for success — particularly if you are a business looking to increase sales through your website.

In short, a domain name for a business is essential in today’s digital world. It enables you to have a unique identity and establish your brand. You can create a professional-looking website to attract new customers online using a domain name.

To help you understand domain names and how you can register your own domain name to operate your own website, we’ve created this detailed guide.

Guide to domain names — An overview:

Domain names might appear complex, but you'll have the essential knowledge to make informed choices about domain names and domain registration after reading this guide. Are you ready? Let's dive in!

What is a domain name?

Every computer on the internet has an “address” called the Internet Protocol or IP address. It is a long and complicated string of numbers and alphabets that computers use to recognize a website, and very hard to remember. Hence, domain names were created.

A domain name is the unique name that each website has. It is usually a memorable term, making it easy to type out in order to visit an online property.

For example, the website domain ExploringStartups.com is much easier for humans to remember than 2001:db8:0:1234:0:567:8:1.

Imagine your website is a building. In this instance, the domain name would be its street address. When people want to visit your website, they will need your website domain in order to do so. As such, each domain, just like a street address, is completely unique.

Most of you would be familiar with a domain name. You use the address bar of a browser to either search for a website or a company, or enter IndiaTimes.com or Flipkart.com to access a website directly. These addresses are domain names for these websites.

For example, to visit GoDaddy’s website, typing “GoDaddy” in your browser would provide you search results for “GoDaddy”. It is not enough to render the actual website. Instead, you need to type the domain name “GoDaddy.com” in the browser to navigate to GoDaddy’s website.

You can also quickly identify a domain name in email and web addresses. It is the name that comes after ‘@’ in an email address and after ‘www.’ in a web address or URL. For example, in the email address sales@ShopClues.com, ShopClues.com is the domain name.

Because a domain name is meant to make it easier for people to visit your website, it’s important to keep it simple and memorable. But before you start picking the perfect domain for your business, let’s cover the main things you should know about domain names.

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Why is a domain name important? Reasons you need a website domain for your business

The biggest mistake a small business can make is to think like a small business. If you are a small business owner or just starting up, having a website domain must be in the cards.

A domain name is a unique identity of your business

Just as fingerprints are unique to every individual, a domain name is unique to one website. Registering a domain name is like securing your identity on the internet. No two websites can share the same domain name. Thus, once any individual, business or organisation registers the domain name, no one else can use it legally.

Website Domain Jewelry
No two websites can have the same website domain name. Photo: Pickle Jar

When the users type your domain name on the internet, they are automatically directed to your website and none other. For example, when the users type “YourStory.com” into their browser window, they are automatically directed to the website of the startup advocates in Bengaluru, Karnataka.

Moreover, by registering a domain, businesses can increase brand awareness and bring more customers to their businesses. The domain name also needs to be registered to protect your copyrights and trademarks, helping newcomers know that the domain name they might be planning to use is already registered.

Even if you do not plan to have a website soon, get the .com and .in version of your business name now. Because if someone else buys your domain name:

  • They might take advantage of your brand recognition by launching a look-alike website.
  • Later when you want a website, you might have to look up the domain owner and buy it from them at a premium rate.

You can further secure your brand by applying for a Trademark Registration in India. This will ensure no one can use a similar brand name.

You can’t build a website without a domain name

The most important reason for you to register a domain name for your business, is that you cannot create a website without a domain name.

In 2024 and beyond, digital marketing is a essential for any business to survive. Consumers are turning to the internet before purchasing anything. If you operate a business, you need a website.

With a high penetration rate of mobile technology and social media in India, businesses need to have a mobile-friendly website and an engaged online presence.

Yet, research shows that roughly 46% of small businesses do not have their own website.

Your website is the user-facing experience someone receives when they visit your domain name. Here are a few of the top reasons to build a business website:

Consumers research businesses online before making in-store purchases.

Your website provides them with the information you want to convey about your business.

Extend the reach and access of your business.

A physical store has its constraints. It cannot be opened all the time, due to various security and logistics reasons.

On the other hand, your website is always open (even when your physical store is not). Even when you’ve locked up for the night, your website can generate leads or accept new orders. Therefore, if you have a domain name and a website, you might close your physical shop at 8:00 p.m., but your business doesn’t stop there.

Make sure you add sufficient amount of information about your products on your website. Your customers can browse your products at any point in time. If your site supports the shopping cart functionality, then they can even order from you online while you sleep.

It serves as a marketing channel for your business.

A website affords you the freedom to control the message and user experience, unlike other online platforms like social media.

Your domain name is more than just a random web address people can use to access your website. It’s a powerful opportunity for businesses to build a brand identity and improve the consumer experience.

Related: 5 smart and affordable digital marketing strategies to grow your venture

Increase professionalism and business image with a domain-based email address

In the early years of business, you might be so busy building your product that you don’t have time to create a website. The best part of having a domain name is that you can also use it to create and use domain-specific email addresses with a professional email account. Many business owners often overlook this, and continue using free email services such as to Hotmail or Gmail to communicate with their customers.

Imagine you receive an email from akashgoel@gmail.com asking you to buy a house. Who is this, you wonder? Now imagine the impact an email like akash@GoelRealtors.com will have. The second email appears to come from a more professional and serious business.

As consumers become more tech-savvy, they expect businesses to have a certain level of professionalism. In a highly competitive market, small differences like having a business email and professional email account can be the factor that tips the scale in your favor.

Flipkart.com leads to a website and also appears in the company email address of cs@flipkart.com. The web address and matching email make Flipkart look credible.

Related: How to use a custom domain name for email

Start building your online presence by sending people to your social media pages

As a new business owner, you might be too busy to build a website or even set up a professional email account.

There are many other ways by which you can have an online presence without having a website. Using your domain name, you can test the waters with a blog or a social media page.

You can direct your domain’s visitors to a variety of places through the technique of forwarding, such as using your domain name to direct traffic to your social media pages like Facebook. The process is very straightforward and can be completed with no trouble.

Anyone who searches for your website domain on Google lands on your Facebook Business Page. This way you can have an online presence — even if you don't have an official website.

When you are convinced that an online presence can transform the reach of your business, you might go ahead for a fully functional website. Once you build your website, you simply point the domain to your new website.

Having a domain name and not using it is like having the key but not opening the treasure.

With a website or a social page, you can target people across the globe. Your business is not limited to the geographical boundaries of your location.

Meet Ankita, who sells the dream of looking perfect in the form of clothing. She has been running her business SriClusters for eight years. It was only last year that she decided to take her clothing business online. As she explains:

“I started my website in 2017, after understanding how important a website is for a business. A website is the virtual face of a business and GoDaddy has an excellent platform and great services. … Almost all of my exports are through the website, and it has helped almost double my revenue. Three-quarters of my total clientele have increased due to the website alone.”

Having a website opened up new avenues for Ankita’s business. She reached the people who were miles away from her and successfully converted them to her customers.

Retail Trade Rangosri

To build an online store

With a domain name, you can create your online store instead of a simple website. Ecommerce stores have the functionality to support the shopping cart, allowing people to browse through your products, add them to the cart, and pay online.

Sayon Seal is the proud owner of Rangosri, a designer saree business. Rangosri has been in business since 2015. In 2017, the digital retail store was launched to cater to the demand for sarees throughout India. Sayon says:

“The journey was an uphill one from the beginning. But thanks to the beautiful website, we are now selling nearly 550 to 600 sarees a month."

"As a small offline retail player, we would have to wait for the sale seasons like Poila Baisakh or Durga Puja to set our cash box rolling," Sayon continues. "Now, thanks to our online store, every month, every week, every day is a sales day!”

Having an eCommerce website requires an added attention to customer service, product delivery, etc. But on the whole, it seems to have paid off for Sayon.

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What are the parts of a domain name?

The easiest way to explain what is a domain name is to look at an example — we’ll use www.godaddy.com. A domain name is comprised of three principal parts: the second-level domain (SLD), the top-level domain (TLD) and the third-level domain (3LD), which we’ll examine from right to left:

Arrows pointing to the SLD and TLD within the GoDaddy web address

Business Name Ideas Dainik Bhaskar

Second-level domain (SLD)

For example, the domain name belonging to the aforementioned newspaper is Bhaskar.com. The first part — Bhaskar — is called the second-level Domain, and this is often a business brand name.  The Second-Level Domain (SLD) is the part that appears after “www.” . The maximum length of an SLD is 63 characters, but generally, you want to pick an SLD that is short, branded and memorable. You can even register Second Level Domains using Hindi characters — watch this video to learn how.

Top-level domain (TLD)

The second part — .com — is called a Top Level Domain (TLD). The TLD is the last section, which in this case is the “.com” section. TLDs are also called “domain suffixes” or “domain extensions” and there are now many options besides “.com” that people can use for their domain names. As such, the TLD may be able to reflect the nature of your business.

An organization called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) controls registries that make domain extensions (or TLDs) available for purchase. ICANN assigns IP addresses, runs accreditation systems, and maintains a centralized database of all domain names and their corresponding IP addresses. As the governing body over website domains, there are two main types of domains, or TLDs, that ICANN recognizes:

Generic top-level domain (gTLD)

Generic top-level domains (gTLDs) are the most common type of domain extension used, and examples of gTLDs include .com, .net, .org, .gov and .edu. These TLDs are meant to signify the objective of a website — like commercial use (.com) or educational purposes (.edu).

Here are some examples of popular gTLDs in India:

  • .com is preferred by businesses that operate globally.
  • .net is favored by ISPs but open to any business.
  • .org is useful to nonprofit and charity organisations.

The newest TLDs on offer have more than three letters and represent a variety of industries, as in:

You can find the complete list of available gTLDs here.

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Related: What are the 5 most common domain extensions?

Country-code top-level domain (ccTLD)

Domain names can use a ccTLD to indicate the country where a website is registered or where a company or organization conducts business. For example, .in is the ccTLD for India, and .ie is the ccTLD for Ireland.

While a ccTLD is meant to signify the country of a domain name, some ccTLDs, like Libya’s .ly and Tuvalu’s .tv, are chosen because of their branding value (although certain ccTLDs have limitations on who can register them).

It is also notable that these two types of domain — gTLDs and ccTLDs — can be combined, giving us common extensions like .co.uk or .com.au.

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Domain vs. URL — What’s the difference?

We’ve already mentioned that a domain name is a specific string of text that can direct someone to a website. This definition also loosely describes a Uniform Resource Locator (URL). In fact, people often use URL and domain interchangeably — even though there are specific differences.

A domain name is not (exactly) the same as a URL

You should not confuse a domain name with a URL. While related, these are two separate things.

You can think of the website as the online property and the domain name as its address. Just like every house has its unique address, every website has its unique domain name. Like, if you enter the domain name Flipkart.com, you will always land on Flipkart’s website only.

Domain name and Uniform Resource Locator (URL)

Often, domain name and Uniform Resource Locator (URL) are used interchangeably. However, there is a technical difference. A URL is the computer information that directs your browser to show you a particular document or file on the internet in a specific way. A domain name is a subset of the URL.

When you send a letter to your friend, you write his name, house number, street and city. Similarly, a URL also has several key components that together make a unique address. One part of this is the domain extension, or what appears after the dot.

These are the most popular domain name extensions in use today:

  • .com — Initially intended for use by commercial businesses.
  • .org — Used by nonprofit organizations (generally charitable). wikipedia.org is a popular example.
  • .net — Favoured by web developers, tech companies, ISPs and others.

Amongst extensions, .com is the most popular choice worldwide.

There are also domain name extensions reserved for countries. Some examples are:

Using .in for your website address tells visitors you’re located in India, which might increase your credibility among some shoppers.

What is the URL?

A Uniform Resource Locator (URL) is a string of characters in a web browser that identifies each item that exists on the internet, so that the server can display a specific resource to an end user. Every element on the internet — for example, each image and video we use on this blog — has a unique URL address so that it can be located. While a URL and domain name have similarities, the URL is much more descriptive. It actually encompasses the domain name and allows servers to pinpoint and render unique assets on a website.

For example, the below URL:

This URL takes you directly to a GoDaddy Help article that walks you through setting up a new domain.

Screenshot of GoDaddy's domains help article-2

Within the Help URL is the domain name GoDaddy.com. So we can see that the domain name is just one part of all the elements that make up a URL. The domain name serves as the principal address (or homepage) for a website, while the URL takes you to specific pages or resources on that website.

Let’s consider each component that makes up the URL in the below diagram:

Diagram of the URL structure

The protocol

The URL protocol communicates how the browser must request access to a specific resource. Most web addresses will use either HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) or HTTPS (HTTP with SSL).

The difference between HTTP and HTTPS is the “S” — which refers to security. HTTPS websites have SSL security, which is an encryption that protects the sensitive data of its users. If your site doesn’t have an SSL certificate, you should strongly consider adding it because visitors are hyper-aware of their personal data online, and 85% of online shoppers will actively avoid an unsecure website.

Related: How to enable HTTPS

The subdomain

A subdomain, also known as a third-level domain (3LD) is an optional part of a URL that creates a completely separate section of your website. If a URL has a subdomain, it will precede the domain name with a period. The most common subdomain is "www", which stands for "world wide web".

Websites might use subdomains to do the following:

  • test or stage web development (test.example.com)
  • indicate a specific geographic location (uk.example.com)
  • communicate unique segments of their website to the end user (blog.example.com).

For example, Tumblr uses subdomains for each of its users.

  • User1.tumblr.com
  • User2.tumblr.com

In the two addresses above, User1. and User2. are both subdomains that Tumblr uses to store and display unique pages to its visitors. As you can see, both websites use the same domain name (tumblr.com), but they feature a unique subdomain.

The domain name

Following the protocol and subdomain is the domain name, which we discussed previously. In our example, the domain name is the GoDaddy.com section. Domain names include the top-level domain (TLD) and second-level domain (SLD).

The path

The URL path comes after the top-level domain, and it defines the full, exact resource for the web server to display. In our example, the path would be /help/set-up-my-domain-40634. The path begins with a forward slash and is case sensitive.

The subdirectory or subfolder

The subdirectory or subfolder appears directly after the domain name and is essentially a folder within the main website that houses a specific resource. In our example, /help/ is the subdirectory. Some URLs have further subfolders within subdirectories.

The file name

The file name is the last major section of a URL, and it tells the web server the exact file to display to the end user. Common file names include .pdf, .png and .html — although, most websites remove the HTML extension automatically from URLs.

In our example, the file name is set-up-my-domain-40634, which is a specific webpage found in the /help/ subdirectory on GoDaddy.com.

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How do domains work?

As we mentioned previously, every website has a unique, complex string of numbers and letters known as an IP address that computers use to render a web address to an end user. While humans use words, letters and numbers to navigate to a specific website, the internet uses IP addresses to identify each web page’s location.

When you type the domain name or URL that you want to visit, your web browser looks for the website’s address in the domain name system (DNS). This domain name system is a large database that works similar to a telephone directory, but it exists to find IP addresses and connect users to the corresponding websites.

The process basically works like this:

  1. A user enters the domain they want to visit in the browser.
  2. The web browser sends a request to the DNS for the URL.
  3. If the domain name is not found in one DNS server, the request moves to the next DNS server, continuing until the request is found.
  4. The DNS server with the website’s corresponding IP address returns that address to the user’s web browser.
  5. The user’s browser receives data about the site from the server hosting the domain.
  6. The received data is converted and rendered as the expected web page.

If we were asked to remember the IP addresses to any website we wanted to visit, it would be overwhelming and cumbersome. It would be like trying to memorize all your contacts’ phone numbers and needing to input the entire number in your phone whenever you wanted to call or text that person.

However, thanks to DNS, users only need to remember the domain name. DNS resolution occurs in milliseconds — so the user never even recognizes that the process is occurring.

Related: What is DNS?

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How to choose a domain name?

Now that you understand what domains are and how they work, you can start searching and registering your domain!

To help you get started, we have these recommendations for selecting your domain:

  • Keep it simple. Try to find something that people can remember and is related to your business.
  • Avoid numbers, hyphens, or uncommon words. These things just make it harder for people to remember and type in your domain.
  • Use keywords. You can combine the name of your business with popular or common terms in your sector.
  • Include your location. If you have a business that only services a specific city or region, consider including it in your domain name.
  • Register different extensions. While it’s great if you can secure a .com domain, you’ll maintain more control over your brand if you register the same name with various extensions, like .info, .net, or .org.

Those who have an operational company with a brand name have different options from those who are just starting up.

In the first scenario, you will likely want to buy the .com or .in version of your business name. For example, if you have a real estate company with the name Goel Realtors, you would want to buy the domain name GoelRealtor.com or GoelRealtor.in, or both.

If you are just starting up and have not yet named your business, you have all the freedom to search domain names that suit you best. Type the desired domain name in the search box of GoDaddy. GoDaddy not only tells you whether that domain name is available or not, but it also suggests alternative options. Continue searching until you find an available domain that fits, then use that for your business name.

Editor’s note: See how to claim a free domain name with GoDaddy

Choose the right extension

As mentioned earlier, you’ll need to make a decision about what goes on both sides of the dot. While many businesses insist on .com because it’s the world’s most recognized domain extension, it’s not your only option. Here’s the breakdown of other popular extensions:

  • .in: This is India’s country-code domain and indicates you’re located in India.
  • .com.in: Widely used by Indian companies and commercial enterprises that trade within India.
  • .net: Favored by tech companies, ISPs and others.
  • .info: Good for websites that share public health, research or other information.
  • .org: Popular among non-commercial or nonprofit organizations.
  • .biz: Another good option for commercial and/or business entities.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, as more specialised extensions are springing up every day. Check them out here.

Which one is right for you?

Let’s say, you want to expand your business in India alone. In this case, .com.in or .in would be the smart choice. This way Google knows you offer country-specific content on your site.

On the other hand, if you’d like to scale your brand globally, .com might be preferable. Given the undisputed popularity of this extension, this would be a great choice for any business.

Before you moonwalk to the checkout with your new domain, you’ll want to be sure:

  • The domain doesn’t infringe on any trademarks. If you register a domain name that matches a registered trademark, you could be in for legal headaches.
  • The name isn’t a modified version of a well-known brand (for the reasons mentioned above).
  • It doesn’t contain offensive or illegal words, even in different languages.

Once you register a domain name, it’s yours for the duration of the registration period. You’ll want to be absolutely sure you’ve got it right before you click.

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How to find a domain name?

After you have decided on a domain name that is less than 64 characters long, has no special characters or blank spaces, and contains only the letters A to Z, you can proceed to check its availability on a domain registrar like GoDaddy. While you might use numbers and hyphens (-) in a domain name, this is not recommended, as this can confuse those trying to find your website.

1. Open the domain search box on your domain registrar's homepage

Visit the GoDaddy homepage — you will type your desired business name in the search box at the top. Those who have an operational company with a brand name have different options from those who are just starting up.

Alternatively, you can start searching here:

If you already have a business name in mind

For those who have already named their businesses, start by typing your business name into the domain search box. Should you find that your business name is unavailable with the .com or .in extensions, you might consider a domain backorder or choose another extension to get the domain that matches your business name. Here are a just a few extensions for you to consider (get the complete list here).

Because these extensions are new, there are still many great domain names available to register.

If you have not named your business

Those who have not named their businesses have more options when it comes to domain names. You can actually choose your business name based on which domain names are available to you. This will save you headaches down the road, as customers will be in no doubt where to find you on the internet.

2. Type in the name you want

Let’s say you are thinking of the name “TheFlyingHorse” for a horse trade business. Type this name in the search box to check the results. In a few seconds, the results will appear on the page and let you know if your desired domain name is available or already taken. When we type “TheFlyingHorse” in the search box, the result is shown as available. The price of this domain is shown and the schemes or offers available for names with alternate extensions are also shown. Consider your choices before you finalise the purchase.

3. Make the purchase

Once you have decided, add the domain name you want to your cart and make the online purchase. It is now yours to use for a website address, an email address or both. Having your registered domain name in your website and email address gives a more professional look to your business. To learn how to register a domain name with Hindi characters, watch this video.

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How to buy and register a domain name?

When you find the name and domain extension you want for your website, you just need to follow these simple steps to buy your domain:

  1. Go to a domain provider (like GoDaddy) and verify the registration fee for the domain you want.
  2. Create an account with the domain provider.
  3. Pay for the domain. This payment designates you as the owner of that domain for a set amount of time.
  4. Add additional services, like SSL certificates, website builder or hosting, if your provider offers them.

If you want to register your domain with GoDaddy, we make the process easy. You can search for your domain right here with GoDaddy's Domain Name checker and find out what our current promotions are:

Did you know? GoDaddy has added a new DNS feature so customers can quickly integrate their domain name with their ENS-compatible crypto wallet, including Coinbase Wallet, MetaMask, Rainbow, Uniswap Wallet and more.

Benefits of having multiple domain names

Domain Name Availability Street Scene
Any business owner wishing to have a website must first get a domain name.Photo: Shi Fauzia Flickr via Compfight cc

Once your domain name is registered, it builds the credibility of your business on the internet. You can further enhance the online presence of your business by registering multiple domains. You have the following advantages of registering multiple domain names:

  • By registering domain names that are similar to your primary business domain name, you keep your competitors from registering them.
  • You can also reach a range of markets by creating distinct advertising strategies on the various domain names you own.
  • Using these secondary domain names, you can direct more traffic to your website, as customers are given more ways to find you on the internet.

So using the example above, you could register:

  • TheFlyingHorse.in
  • TheFlyingHorse.com
  • TheFlyingHorse.trade

For a small cost, you now own your digital presence simply by snagging a cheap domain that's unique to your brand.

What if your choice of domain name is unavailable?

So, you searched for the name of your brand, project or business and were surprised to see that it is already taken by someone else. Is there really another business out there with the same name as your business?

There are people who guess that there is the likelihood of someone starting a business with that name, and they register and ‘park’ the domain name. Then, they sell it to the business that requests it — for a profit. In fact, this is a good business to get into, and you can read about it here.

Fret not. If your first choice of domain name is already taken, here are some options you can consider.

Consider a non .com domain extension

Some examples include .online, .shop, and .co. Check out the full list of available domain extensions at GoDaddy.

Consider switching words around

For example, if you wanted to register katiescandy.com, but it’s taken, see if candybykatie.com is available.

Reach out to the current domain owner and get them to sell you the domain

screenshot of a domain name that is already owned by another owner

When you find that your choice of domain is already taken, there might be an option to seek help in acquiring it.

As with the screenshot above, you can click on "see how" and use GoDaddy’s Domain Broker Service. The charges and commission for this service are mentioned, and you can choose it if you wish to continue. In this instance, you will let GoDaddy know which domain you want, and a dedicated broker will reach out to the current domain owner to negotiate a deal.

If you would like to do this on your own, you can do a WHOIS Lookup search and send the owner of the domain an offer for that domain.

Find the domain name that you want at an auction

But what if the buyer wants top dollar for the domain name that matches your business name? You can still have a great domain name without paying someone a ‘bomb’ for it. The solution is domain auctions.

Domain auction is a process in which prospective domain name buyers can bid or make an offer for a domain name that has already been registered by another owner. It is a regulated and transparent process of trading pre-owned domain names. Domain auctions are like a regular auction in which prospective buyers bid for unique properties — the sale goes to the highest bidder.

On the GoDaddy Auctions site, you will find an alphabetical listing of domain names and their prices. Search for and choose the domain you want using the Search tool.

Once you find the domain you want, check its base price and bid an amount for it. The funds can be safely transferred through escrow agents who facilitate transactions between auction participants. Follow the links and instructions on the site to complete the transaction. You will receive instructions by email on how to access your newly purchased domain.

Download GoDaddy Investor app for iOS
Download GoDaddy Investor app for Android

Editor’s note: Have you found a website domain you love? Now put your business online in less than 5 minutes with Online Starter Bundle.

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What to look for in a domain name registrar?

A registrar is an accredited organization that is authorised to sell domain names. There are numerous companies offering this service. Although the process is very simple, you need to look for the best registrar to manage and administer your domain name. GoDaddy stands out in more ways than one, making it the preferred choice for most businesses around the world. Here are a few advantages they have over other registrars to help you make a well-informed decision.

1. Trust

GoDaddy is the most trusted and the largest registrar in the world.

To register with the largest and most experienced, is a huge confidence boost for the customer. You can be sure GoDaddy will stay several steps ahead of its competitors, which means you’ll be the first to receive the latest benefits.

GoDaddy’s powerful domain name generator is set into motion the moment you type your business name into the GoDaddy domain name search box.

The search engine delves into the world’s largest pool of domain names within seconds to inform you if it is already in use.

The Smart Search feature also recommends alternative domain names close to the one you typed in, in case your first choice is already taken. Peruse the list of suggestions — you might find something you like better.

3. Language-friendly

The internet uses ASCII characters, which are based on English lettering. This has made it hard for businesses whose customers speak Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi or another dialect to get domain names in those languages.

No longer. Internationalized Domain Names (IDN) make it possible for businesses to register website names in the language of their customers.

If English is not the official language of communication in your country or region, there is absolutely no need to worry. GoDaddy offers the facility of choosing international domain names.

4. Round-the-clock help

With GoDaddy, you’re never stuck! Free expert support is provided 24x7.

Just pick up the phone for a fantastic experience and service delivered to you not only in English but in a language of your preference, such as Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Marathi. Or get help via live chat, available 20 hours each day.

5. Complete small business services

Domain Name System Men on Fishing Boat
Once you have a domain name, GoDaddy helps you put it to use for email and a website.
Photo: Firos nv on Unsplash

GoDaddy is not just a domain registrar, but also a full-service small business partner. This makes your life much easier with the next steps taken care of by GoDaddy.

Want to build a website or web store yourself? GoDaddy can help. Need professional email or security for your website? GoDaddy offers that too. The company provides easy-to-implement and customizable solutions!

6. Guaranteed security

Security against hackers and spammers is of high priority for any consumer or visitor. At GoDaddy you can rest assured, as it is highly efficient in eliminating hackers, spammers and viruses. The security of your account domain name is certain!

7. Easy payment options

Payment is made simple with several payment options for clients. GoDaddy accepts:

  • Currencies of all countries
  • All major cards
  • eWallets
  • Simple bank transfers

Visit this page for more information about all your options.

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Next steps: What to do after picking your domain name

Understanding domain names and the ancillary components are important steps when deciding on the perfect domain name.

If you’re ready to take the next steps with choosing and registering your domain name, see below:

Also, try our free Domain Name Generator tool and find your next domain name.

Getting more from your domain name

Now that we understand what is a domain name, let’s examine how you can go beyond the basics to get more from your investment. Here a few of the most popular ways:

Choosing a TLD

You’ll recall we just discussed the availability of unique TLDs. These, in fact, can be used to designate the purpose of your website. For example, a tech company could use the .tech domain extension to boldly proclaim the nature of their business.

Professional email

A user of free email might not realize they can replace the TLD and subdomain in their @gmail.com or @aol.com email address to use the domain they just registered. The result — such as @example.tech — represents are far more professional approach to using email.

Domain investing

Imagine if inspiration struck, and you registered a domain based on the name of the mythological Greek goddess of victory. When a certain shoe manufacturer looked to create their website, you’d be in a prime position to sell them your domain for a healthy profit. In fact, domain investing has grown to become its own industry of sorts.

As you can see, there’s quite a bit more to take on once you’ve learned what is a domain name. Like any other purchase, there are many ways you could (and should) maximize its value.

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Related FAQ about domain names

What is the difference between a domain and a website?

Conceptually, you can think of a domain like your home address and the website as the physical home. The address is how someone finds your home, but the style, size and layout of your home might vary drastically from one house to the next.

Your website is what a user sees when they visit your domain name or specific URLs on your domain. A website lives on a domain, and it’s the collection of files and coding language in the backend that produces a front-end experience for internet users.

What is the difference between a domain and hosting?

Using the same real estate analogy, your domain name is the address that people enter into their web browser to find your home (website) on the internet and hosting is the land that your website sits on.

You can’t have a website without a place to put it — web hosting.

Websites are stored — or “hosted” — on a publicly-accessible computer (a server). Some websites require an entire server to themselves. Others can share a server with hundreds of other websites. The storage space, and the features that come with it, make up your hosting plan.

Companies like GoDaddy offer different types of web hosting services, including:

  • Shared hosting: This is the most budget-friendly type of hosting. You’re sharing resources — like neighbors in an apartment building — so you spend less but have fewer options and less control.
  • Virtual private server (VPS): This type of hosting dedicates a specific portion of a web server’s capacity and processing to each customer. Like a condo, your space (on the server) is yours.
  • Dedicated server: This is the mansion of housing analogies. It offers unlimited resources at a premium price.

What’s the difference between a domain registry, a domain registrar, and a domain registrant?

There are three different roles involved in the domain name registration process: The registry, registrar and registrant.

  • Domain registry: The domain registry is an organization that owns the rights to domain extensions. They have the ability to create top-level domains, set the guidelines for using those gTLDs, and distribute the rights to sell those domains to registrars. Some registries include Identity Digital (formerly Donuts), Verisign, Afilias, Radix Dot Space, and Nominet UK.
  • Domain registrar: Domain name registrars are places you go to purchase a domain name. These organizations must be accredited by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), and they have established the power to sell domains using specific TLDs. They work in coordination with the domain registries to distribute ownership rights for domain names to the general public. GoDaddy is an example of a domain registrar. You can check out our overview of the best domain registrars.
  • Domain registrant: A domain registrant is a person or entity registering a specific domain name from the domain registrar. If you have ever purchased a domain, you are a domain registrant.

How long does domain registration last?

When you register a domain name through a registrar like GoDaddy, it’s yours for as long as you continue to pay the annual registration fee. You typically can register a domain for a period of time between one and 10 years — and you need to renew the domain name registration prior to its expiration in order to keep using it.

What do you need to keep in mind while purchasing a domain name that was taken?

You need to think seriously, and in an informative manner about your budget for acquiring a domain name. If another domain owner is actively using the domain name you want, keep in mind they have also spent money and time acquiring that domain. As such, be ready with a fair offer after gathering enough market information about the domain’s worth to position yourself for a positive response from the domain’s owner.

Whether you are brainstorming a new domain name or hoping to purchase an existing domain, do not rush things. You need ample time. If you want to purchase an existing domain from its current owner, plan for time to make contact, negotiate a fair price, make the payment, and get the domain name transferred to your account. Additionally, it’s important you do adequate market research to assure that the domain is not inflated by checking the traffic and money charts. Look at the domain over time and check the response of the traffic to the site by verifying the server logs.

Can I register a domain with the name of a trademarked company?

Just because a domain name is available, doesn’t mean there isn’t a trademark protecting that brand name.

For instance, if you found a variation of GoDaddy (e.g., GoDaddy.biz) available for registration, you could not purchase and operate a business on that domain, because it would still be protected under trademark law.

When it comes to domains and trademarks, remember these basic considerations:

  • If the name is identical to another business in the marketplace, it could be protected.
  • Descriptive trademarks that are memorable through sales and marketing can be protected.
  • If two trademarks confuse customers about the products or services, the first commercial trademark owner has priority.
  • In the event of trademark infringement, the infringer may have to forfeit use of the domain and pay the trademark owner damages.

This article was first published on 6 July 2023, and updated on 1 January 2024. It includes content originally published on the GoDaddy blog by the following authors: Shweta Saxena, Mallika Krishnamoorthy, Juned Ghanchi, Sphoorti Bhandare, Juned Ghanchi, Art Martori, Brian Pereira, Genevieve Tuenge, Kelsey Pfeffer, Maxym Martineau and Mary Juetten.

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