What Are Domain Names and What is Their History

You may not be familiar about the background and origin of domain names. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. What is in the basic vocabulary of web developers, SEOs and IT professional, is often a foreign concept to business owners.

Having a basic understanding of domain names, however, will give you added power in running your business in terms of the website.

Domain names have a relatively short history, dating back to the creation of the Internet. Thus, they are a new concept the modern business owner will likely encounter.

Domain names play a huge role in your company’s online presence.

Before you know the importance of domain names to your business, we’ll discuss what domain names are and their origin.

What are Domain Names?

You’ll notice that every time you go to a website, a URL (also called the website address) will appear in the browser’s search bar. This URL contains part of the website’s domain name.

A domain name is comprised of multiple components including top-level domains (TLDs), secondary and third-level domains.

Top-level domains are on the right most side of the URL. Common TLDs are: .com, .org, .net, .gov, .edu, and .biz. Secondary domains are those in the URL that appear right before the top-level one. For example, the URL of www.sample.com, has a secondary domain of “sample” and a top-level domain of .com.

The hierarchy of domains in a domain name decrease from right to left and every domain name ends with a top level domain.

The next component of the domain name indicates the server that the domain is on. For the above example, www indicates that the World Wide Web (or internet) is the server.

Why are Domain Names Important?

URLs/domain names are the ways your website is found. Domain names are used to establish a unique identity. Organizations can choose a domain name that corresponds to their name, helping Internet users to reach them easily.

By default, computers only read in numbers. People read in letters, which make up words. The domain name system (DNS) sets the rules and procedures for domain names and it is also where every domain name is registered.

Domain names translate the numerical identification numbers of computers and networks into text-based labels (URLs) that area easier for people to use and remember. URLs also represent the host computer name.

A domain name represents the internet protocol (IP) that is used to access the internet, whether that be through a server, or a website.

How do I Get a Domain Name?

Selecting a domain name for your business needs to be done with care. There are many components one must consider including the use of targeted keywords, ease of typeability and memorization, uniqueness and length.

The first step in selecting a good domain for our business is to be familiar with the purpose and products your company offers. From there you can come up with keywords to focus on.

When you settle on a domain name, you must go to a third-party domain name registrar provider and register it. You’ll have to pay an annual fee to maintain ownership of your registered domain name.

When a domain is registered with a registrar, certain information will be required including: a contact for the administrator to oversee the domain name, a technical contact who manages the servers and the domain registry, a billing contact for who will receive the invoices from the domain name registry, and the name servers that will host the domain name’s resource records.

Domain names aren’t all priced the same. Factors such as popularity and the top-level domain will affect how cheap or expensive a domain name is.

History of Domain Names

The domain name system was created in 1983 as a part of the ARPANET to offset the massive growth of the ARPANET network, which had gotten so large to properly maintain and organize its centralized hostname registry.

The first commercial Internet domain name, with the top-level domain of .com was registered on March 15, 1985 in the name symbolics.com by Symbolics Inc., a computer systems firm in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

When the Domain Name System was devised in the 1980s, the domain name space was divided into two main groups of domains: Country code top-level domains (ccTLD) and generic top-level domains (gTLD). The country code top-level domains were based on the two-character territory codes of country abbreviations (i.e. .uk for England, .ca for Canada, .mx for Mexico). Seven generic top-level domains were created, which represent most domain names today. These are:  .gov, .edu, .com, .mil, .org, .net, and .int.

All the top-level domains are stored in a domain name server root zone database that is maintained by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA).

The IANA maintained database also includes special-use domain names and those that have been trademarked for corporate use.

ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers gives domain registrars the right to use and sell domain names. Each accredited registrar technically services and maintains each of the TLDs in its database.

When a domain name is registered in a domain name registrar, it assigns names to the registered TLD and publishes the new owner’s information using the WHOIS protocol.

Knowing a little about domain names will help you make better decisions about coming up with domain names for your business’ web properties and how to navigate the domain name purchasing and registration process.

Whether you’re looking for ideas for a domain name for your business website or you’re ready to purchase a domain, feel free to browse the library at Domain Market.

For more information about domain names, contact one of our representatives at Domain Market today.

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