What is a website domain (and do I need one)?

9 min read
Shweta Saxena

What is a website domain? As a small business, why should you care about having one? In this article, I will answer these questions with the help of simple examples.

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.

Let us dive deeper.

4 good reasons you need a website domain

If your business depends on customers, your success depends on the internet. Getting online begins with a domain name.

  1. It’s the unique identity of your business.

  2. You need one to have a website.

  3. It can improve your business image.

  4. Or it can send people to your social pages.

Before we explain our four reasons, let’s define what a website domain name is and how it can be a benefit to your company.

What is a website domain?

Every computer on the internet has an “address.” This address is called the Internet Protocol or IP address. It is a long series of numbers and hard for humans to remember. Therefore, domain names were created.

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

If you think you haven’t seen a domain name, you are wrong. Trust me, you know them quite well. You use the address bar of the browser (Chrome, Internet Explorer, Mozilla) to search for a website or a company. Here you enter a website address like IndiaTimes.com or Flipkart.com. These website addresses are nothing but the domain names for these websites.

You can 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. Similarly, in the web address https://www.Zomato.com, Zomato.com is the domain name.

That answers the question, “what is a website domain name?” Let us now explore what it is not. This will help clear up some common confusions.

A domain name is not the same as a website

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

Website Domain Building
Just as a building address helps people locate it, domain names help people find websites.
Photo: Pickle Jar

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).
  • .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.

Searching for your website domain name

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.

Check the availability of your domain name now

On the other hand, 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: Have you found a website domain you love? Now put your business online in less than 5 minutes with Online Starter Bundle.

Tips for choosing a domain name

Now that we’ve discussed what is a website domain, here are a few key factors to keep in mind while choosing one for your business. These include:

  • Try to use the .com extension for your domain name, since they are the most popular and memorable. If the name you want isn’t available in .com, try one of the new domain extensions.
  • If you have a local or India-specific business, you might go for a .in domain extension. However, I would still recommend buying the .com version of your domain name also.
  • It is a good practice to have a keyword in your domain name.
  • Limit the number of characters — shorter is easier to remember.
  • Don't use a hyphen, as this confuses people.
  • It should be easy to pronounce and spell.

The goal is to make your domain name easy for people to remember and type into their mobiles. The easier you make it for them, the more likely they will visit your website.

Editor’s Note: If the name you desire is already taken, you can choose GoDaddy’s Domain Backorder service and we will try to get it as soon as it expires.

Why is a domain name important?

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. If not, I am sure you will decide to have one after reading this article.

1. It’s the 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.

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

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:

  • He 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.

2. You need one to have a website

You might be famous in your city. Would you like to have customers from other parts of the country?

Yes! Why not?

So, you need a website. A website can be visited by anyone around the world, at any time of day or night. Your website needs an address, and that address is your website domain name.

3. It can improve your business image

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 for a professional email account.

Website Domain Construction
Photo: Pickle Jar

If you don’t invest in your business then why would your customers spend their time and money on you?

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.

4. Or it can send people to your social pages

However, it can happen that new business owners are so busy developing the business that they do not have time to build a website or even set up a professional email account. In such cases, you can use 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.

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

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.

Help people find you on the internet

Just as a house has a street address, websites have domain names that help people find them online. I hope you understand how a domain name can help you look more professional, and get new customers for your company. Having one of your own is no longer a choice, but a necessity. In fact, you are losing customers if your competitors have an online presence but you do not. Grab a cheap domain name now!