What is an Internet domain?
A domain is a special and distinct name assigned to a website on the Internet, allowing anyone to access it.
This is the definition that would summarize the concept of “domain” in a few words, but I want to explain in much more detail what a web domain is and what it is for. You will see that the thing has a crumb, but you can rest easy because I am going to show you it in a very clear and simple way, you’ll see.
Go for it!
What is a domain? What does it mean?
Notice if we start with the basics that I am going to explain the meaning of the word “domain”:
What is the meaning of domain?
According to website.com, the last meaning for the word domain says that it is the “name that identifies a site on the network and that indicates its belonging to a certain category”.
In short, and as I already told you at the beginning of this article, it is the exclusive name given to a website so that anyone can visit it on the Internet. For example, the domain of this blog that you are reading right now is waleotech.com.
So far simple, right?
What happens is that behind all this there is more chicha than it seems. It may seem a bit confusing at first, but I want you to understand it well because, in addition to being curious, it will be very useful.
What exactly is a domain?
Ok, now you know that when we talk about an Internet domain (also called “virtual domain”) we refer to the name that is given to a website to put it in the browser and be able to visit it.
But why is it done like this? Is it that the web pages are saved in the hosting directly with this domain name?
Web browsers access Internet sites (which are so richly stored in their hosting) through an IP ( Internet Protocol ) address, a very long number of the type 188.8.131.52 that helps to know which server it is on. find.
This logically has 3 very clear main advantages:
- A site’s domain is much easier to remember than its IP (imagine calling your friends by their postal addresses instead of their names).
- It allows having many more sites on the Internet because today many web domains can share, for example, the same IP of the web server where they are hosted (then internally the server knows which domain is being accessed).
- It is much more flexible, for example, when it comes to changing your site from one web hosting to another because the IP can change but the domain will remain the same (imagine notifying the whole world that you have changed your IP).
How does it work?
Well, very simple.
You know the domain of the site you want to visit and all you need is a system that is in charge of “translating” that domain into an IP that your web browser can understand. And that is precisely what the DNS or Domain Name System ( domain name system ) does.
So the DNS server would be the “phone book” that web browsers use to know where the site you are looking for is by its domain name.
The system is more complex, but I have simplified it for better understanding.
In short, the domain is a “wrapper” that helps us navigate the Internet in a much more comfortable and “humanized” way.
Structure and subdomains
So that you can better understand the structure of a domain, here is a graph that I have made to simplify it in which my domain is shown in a hierarchical tree with the 4 main parts that it can have (it could have even more):
1) The “head” of the tree is what is called the root domain. In practice, it is just an empty name from which the rest of the Internet domains come out.
2) The “son” that comes out of the root domain is the top-level domain or top-level domain or TLD ( Top Level Domain ); what we could call the termination or “extension” of the domain.
In my case, it is the TLD (geolocated domain of Spain).
3) The following would be the second-level domain or SLD (second-level domain); what we might call the domain name.
In my case, it is waleotech.
4) And the following would be the third-level domain or subdomain; what we could call a “sublevel” of the domain name.
In my case, it is www, which is a subdomain.
Be careful: In many places, you will see that double endings such as .com.us, .edu.us, etc. are called third-level domains. They call them that way because in truth the domain name that you chose would be directly the third level of the domain and not the second as you have just seen.
For example, in yourdomain.com, us would be the first level, com would be the second level, and yourdomain would be the third level.
Subdomains are often used to manage different “areas” of the same domain, and you can create them yourself. For example:
- www. It is often used to direct you to the domain’s website.
- ftp. It is usually used to upload or download files from your website.
- mail. It is typically used to manage email for that domain.
- webmail. It is usually used to manage the mail of that domain via the web.
- cpanel. It is usually used to go to the hosting control panel.
- Blog. It is often used to direct you to the website’s blog.
But these subdomains are optional.
Note that I do not use the blog subdomain nor the www, if you enter www.waleotech.com you will see that it automatically redirects you to miposicionamientoweb.es. That’s because in my case the “main area” of my domain is directly my website, which is a blog.
Types of domains
When we talk about the types, we are referring to the 2 main types that exist in the top-level domains or TLDs, what I have previously called the “extension” of the domain (.com, .es, .org…):
Country code top-level domains or ccTLDs
The ccTLDs ( country code Top Level Domain ), also called geolocalized or territorial, are those reserved for the different countries or territories of the world and use the 2-letter country code as the domain extension.
This is where the .us (USA), .mx (Mexico), .ve (Venezuela), .ar (Argentina) .uk (United Kingdom), etc. would be.
Generic Top Level Domains or gTLDs
gTLDs ( generic Top Level Domain ) were initially assigned according to the purpose for which they were reserved (for example, .com was commercial, .org was for organizations, etc.) but nowadays most can be used for whatever you want without restrictions.
These domains use at least 3 letters in their extension and this would include .com, .org, .net, .gov, .edu, .info, .biz, etc.
Within the generic domains, you can also find the so-called sponsored top-level domains or sTLD ( sponsored top-level domains). These are managed by independent agencies or foundations that restrict their use, such as .gov for the US government only or .edu for educational purposes only.
Domain life cycle
That’s right, they have a life cycle, and some states they go through depending on whether it has been registered, if it has expired, etc. And believe me, you must know them well to avoid “confusion”:
Available: here the domain “is free” and you can register it to make it yours.
Registered: Once you register it for yourself (minimum 1 year and maximum 10 years), no one else can register it.
Active: Shortly after registering it, the domain becomes active and you can use it for as many years as you have registered it (from 1 to 10 years). You can always renew the domain for more years to avoid it expiring.
Grace Period ( renew grade period ): If it has not been renewed while it was active, in this period the domain stops working although it can be renewed for the usual renewal price (not all types of domains have this grace period ).
Punishment Period ( redemption grace period ): If it has not yet been renewed, in this period the domain continues to not work although it can be renewed for a much higher price than the usual renewal price (not all types of domains have this period as punishment).
Elimination Period ( pending delete ): If this period is reached, the domain can no longer be renewed and simply waits to be released to be available again (not all types of domains have this elimination period).
Of course, the life cycle of a domain depends on the type of domain it is and sometimes on the registrar, for example:
Life cycle of a gTLD domain such as .com, .net, .org, .info, etc. A grace period of up to 45 days depending on the registrar.
Life cycle of the ccTLD domain .es (Spain)
I was telling you about the importance of knowing the life cycle of a domain because sometimes you can find companies or registrars that try to “take advantage” of your fear of losing a domain when it has expired and you did not renew it by mistake.
And that, dear friend, is very ugly…
- The domain expired, so it was automatically in the grace period. A few hours later they sent him an email advising him that they were changing the ownership of his domain and putting themselves as the owner, apparently to prevent “others” from taking it from him… He answered them to see what he had to do, but they didn’t reply.
- Before the end of the 30-day grace period, he called them to confirm that he wanted to renew it, but they told him that now the domain was “premium” and that he had to pay more than €1,000 to activate it again.
- After a few hours and after finding out more about the subject, he calls them again to remind them that the domain is still within the 30-day grace period and that he has the right to renew it at its normal price. And “surprisingly” they agree with him and process the registration. How are you staying?
That is why I say that the better informed you are on a subject, the better you will be able to choose what is best for you and the more difficult it will be for you to be deceived.
Okay, now you know what a domain is, the types that there are, and their life cycle.
Now I am going to explain to you simply everything related to your registration so that you can make a better choice when hiring your domain.
What body regulates domain names?
There are mainly 2 organizations that share the tasks of managing all Internet domains, IP addresses, DNS servers, Internet protocols, etc:
They are the ones that decide which companies or organizations can be ” accredited registrars ” to be able to register domains.
In the case of ccTLDs for countries, IANA/ICANN delegates their management to non-profit organizations in each country or territory and it is these that decide who can be “registrar agents” of those extensions.
In Spain, for example, the entity in charge of managing .es and accrediting registrars is dominios.es, integrated into the public business entity Red.es and which depends on the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism of Spain.
How to know if a domain is free?
Well, it’s very simple.
To search for free domains, the most normal thing is that on the website of almost any registrar or hosting provider you will find a search engine, There you can search for the domain you want and it will tell you if it is free or not.
For example, from the search engine of the registrar “dondominio.com,” you can see if the same domain name is free or not for different extensions (.com, .es, .net, etc.):
For example, from dominios.es you also have a search engine to see the .es that are free:
As you can see, the good thing about these search engines is that they help you check free domains in different extensions with a single search.
How to know whose domain it is?
Well, that’s what WHOIS is for, a kind of public and free directory with technical information on registered domains and contact information for their owners (name, email, etc.).
Many pages like this allow you to look up a domain in Whois.
If you look at the images in the previous section, you will see that in addition to showing the available domain names, in the “Not available” a “Whois” button appeared in the dondominio.com search engine, and a “View data” link in the domain search engine.es:
Think that this public information can be used by many people with intentions of “dubious legality”, to send spam to your email, etc. That is why you will see that in many cases the WHOIS does not show all the contact information, to maintain the privacy of its owner.
That is because many hosting/domain providers offer a private Whois service, in this way the generic data of the provider appears instead of the real owner. And even so, not all types of domains allow you to “hide” all the owner’s data, such as .es.
Personally, and despite the possible spam that reaches me, I am one of those who think that if you have nothing to hide as the owner of your domain, I prefer to make it very clear to users and to Google that the domain is mine.
How to know when a domain expires?
Very simple, with the same WHOIS tool that I have shown you in the previous section.
If you look at the images where the Whois information of my domain is shown, you will see a section where it says “Expiration Date” or “Expiration Date” and there it is shown on which day it would expire.
Keep in mind that this date is NOT the date on which the domain becomes free to be able to register it.
Remember that the domain has a life cycle, and for example, in the .com they are not available again until the 65 days of the grace, punishment, and elimination periods that are counted from the expiration date have passed.
In the case of my domain, which is a .es, it would not be available again until a grace period of 10 days passed from the expiration date.
And you will ask me, what else does it matter to me when a domain expires?
Well, I’ll explain this to you because many look for expired domains to take advantage of the authority or web positioning they already have, instead of “starting from scratch” with a completely new domain.
There is a lot of business in this world: purchase of domains, sale of domains, auctions, transfers, reservations…
Some can be worth up to millions!
But better take a look at this article by Josemi Medina where he explains how to do it correctly search for available domains, find expired but quality ones, reserve them before they become free, and redirect them later to your new domain to take advantage of their authority.
How to know if a domain is penalized?
Well, I have a post just to explain this specifically because it is not something easy to know, but there are 3 checks that you can do and that can give you many clues…
Where and how to register a domain?
Today you can hire or register a domain directly from the website of almost any hosting provider or domain registrar.
My advice is that you choose the provider where you are going to register the domain based on what you need, price, and quality :
- If you only need the domain, without hosting or web space to host your site, you can register it with a trusted provider that at least allows you to manage the DNS (so that you can define to which IP you want that domain to redirect). I leave you this simple comparison of where to register cheap and quality domains.
- If you also need hosting, many providers you go to buy hosting give you the free domain for the first year when you contract web hosting for a minimum of 1 year, such as Namecheap or Hostinger, which are the ones I am talking about in this comparison of hosting, because I have personally tested and analyzed them.
Once you have chosen the registrar, you will see that the process to buy a domain is very simple because it guides you step by step :
- Check if the domain is free.
- Choose the years you want to register it (they usually give you a bigger discount the more years you hire).
- Put your data as the domain owner.
- Make the payment.
- Wait a few hours for DNS propagation so that any web browser can “translate” the domain to its corresponding IP.
And you will have your active domain.
Can a domain be transferred?
Imagine that you have your domain registered through some provider or registrar agent that is giving you a lot of problems or with bad customer service, like for example, what do I know, like this random waleotech.com …
Do you have to put up with it and maintain your dominance with them?
If you are the owner, you can transfer a domain wherever you want, which is why it is yours.
The process is usually somewhat simple, although it also depends on the type of domain it is. For example, in .com, these are the steps to follow to transfer a domain from a provider/agent A to another provider/agent B :
- Check that the contact information (email) as the owner of the domain that you have registered with A is correct because that is where you will receive all the information about the transfer of the domain.
- Check that in A you do not have your domain as “blocked” to be transferred.
- If you have a private WHOIS service on A, you may need to cancel it before you can transfer the domain.
- You will need A to give you the authorization code, also called Auth-Code, Auth-Info, EPP code, or transfer code. It is the code that verifies that it is you, the owner of the domain, who wants to transfer it.
- Tell B that you want to transfer your domain and give him the authorization code so he can do it.
- An email will arrive at the email account of the domain holder informing you of the transfer request, and you will have to click where indicated to accept it.
- It depends on the type of domain, It may take a few days until the transfer is complete, but it is normal for B to notify you when it is complete.
ccTLDs tend to be more “special”.
In the case of .es, for example, you do not need any authorization code; It is enough that you have access to the email of the domain holder because you will receive an email from red.es to accept or cancel the transfer once you have requested it from the new provider/registrar agent.
Which domain and extension to choose?
These are “the big questions” when looking for a domain, right?
Well, I am going to give you a series of tips that in my opinion are key when choosing a domain and its extension, and you will see that many of these tips are based on something very important: common sense.
The objective of your site
First of all, you have to be very clear about the objective of your site, because once you have it clear, you will be able to better choose the domain that best suits you. And for that, you should ask yourself a few things:
- Are you going to focus on a user/reader/customer at the local city, regional, national, or international level?
- Do you want to sell products or services online, is it a thematic blog, or is it a site about a very specific niche?
- Do you prefer to give more visibility to your brand or the product/service you offer?
It is not the same that your site serves mainly, for example, to sell melons in Guadalajara (melonesguadalajara.es) rather than to reinforce your brand as a farmer/distributor of melons nationally and internationally (meloneselabuelo.com).
That is why it is important that you know what your objective is, and for that, first doing a keyword study will be great for you.
Make it easy for the user
You have to keep in mind that a domain will be part of your brand or at least it will be the way you want to be searched for and found on the Internet, so the logical thing is to make it easy for them to always remember it, don’t you think?
- If your domain is not going to be your name or that of your brand, try to keep it as short as possible.
- Avoid having numbers, symbols, or strange characters that are not necessary, such as accents, ñ, etc.
- Also avoid double vowels or double consonants, abbreviations, acronyms, capital letters, hyphens, and in general anything that can confuse.
- If you are looking for a gTLD domain, look first for .com because it is the most popular.
- It’s easier to remember if your domain contains any “keywords” that define what your site is about.
- Don’t use trademark domains; even if the domain is available, they can take it away from you.
For example, melguada.es is not the same as melonesguadalajara.es. Which one would you remember best when you want melons? Although the second is longer, it is easier to remember because it contains the keyword “melons” and also the city where they are sold.
And neither is plumber24horas.com the same as plumberveinticuatrohoras.com. Which do you think is easier and will be searched for more on Google? Although the former uses numbers, they help make the domain shorter and easier to remember.
In short, it is about following these recommendations that I make but with common sense. Look for a domain that is easy to read, remember, and write.
Taking SEO into account
A few years ago it was very fashionable to search for the famous EMD ( Exact Match Domain ) or “Exact Match Domain”, that is, domains that have the keyword for which you would like to position yourself in Google results.
- For example, if you want to offer your services as an employment lawyer, a great EMD would be laborlawyer.com.
They indeed continue to be important because, after all, they say what your site is about, which makes things easier for Google and its users. But today, many SEO professionals have seen that these EMD domains are no longer as relevant for Google when it comes to positioning them, and even less so in a very competitive sector or market niche.
Where it does seem clear that there is better SEO positioning is in those ccTLD domains (geographical) when the Google search engine for that specific country is used. Logical, right?
- For example, if you search for “create a blog” from Google.es you will see that the result of waleotech.com is positioned better than if you search for the same thing but from Google.com.
In short, beyond choosing a domain from a country or an international one (which is important), in my view, Google is increasingly lessening the importance of the domain name itself and values more than the content of that domain resolves actual user searches.
Resuming, use common sense.
The important thing is that your domain is focused on the objective of your site and that it is easy for the user to remember.
Well, you see it wasn’t as complicated as it seemed, right?
At least I hope that it has helped you to better understand what a web domain is and how it works on the Internet, in case you are thinking of creating a web page or creating a blog.
And if you have any questions, you just have to comment below so that I can help you solve it, okay?