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How To Choose and Check your Domain Name is Available
The anatomy of a domain name and how to choose a good one
Let’s answer some basic questions first then we will get down to choosing a domain name.
- Starting a new company.
- A new brand.
- Have an existing brand you’re trying to take online?
You’re going to need
- A website.
- A website name.
- A domain name.
Section 1 – Domain Name Structure
What is a domain name?
A domain name is your website name.
A domain name is an address where Internet users can access your website.
A domain name is used for finding and identifying computers on the Internet.
Computers use Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, which are a series of numbers. However, it is difficult for humans to remember strings of numbers.
Due to this, domain names were developed and used to identify entities on the Internet rather than using IP addresses.
What is a domain extension?
A domain name can be any combination of letters and numbers. It is used in combination with one of the various domain name extensions, such as .com, .net or more country-specific like .co.uk.
The domain name must be registered before you can use it.
Every domain name is unique.
No two websites can have the same domain name
What is a URL?
Is a URL (Uniform Resource Locator) the same as a domain name? The answer is no. A domain name is part of a URL. You can see the visual difference in the below visual.
For computer networks and servers to “talk to one another,” computers rely on a language made up of numbers and letters called an IP (Internet Protocol) address.
Every device that connects to the Internet has a unique IP address and looks something like this:
For us to remember these numbers becomes almost impossible.
In order to easily navigate around the internet, domain names were created. This allowed the IP’s to be replaced with something easily remembered.
You could consider the domain name as a “nickname” for the IP address.
A URL incorporates the domain name along with other detailed information – in order to create a complete address (or “web address”) to direct a browser to a specific page online called a web page.
It’s a set of directions and every web page has a unique one. Just like your home postal address, so your letters arrive at your door alone.
What is DNS?
To link the IP address and the domain name the internet uses a giant telephone book called a DNS (domain name servers).
The Domain Name Servers maintains this directory of domain names and translates them to Internet Protocol (IP) addresses.
This is necessary because, although domain names are easy for people to remember, computers or machines, access websites based on the IP addresses.
Are domain names and websites separate things?
Think of a domain name as your phone number and a website as your phone.
While they are both connected, they are separate items.
You can change your phone (website) at any time, and still, keep your existing phone number (domain name), and just connect it to your new phone (new website).
Or, you can move your phone number (domain name) to a different phone service provider (domain name registrar), and keep it connected to your existing phone (your website).
Note that when you buy/register for a domain name, you pay an annual fee to the domain name registrar so that the domain name remains registered under your name.
Section 2 – Choosing a Domain Name
How to Choose a Good Domain Name
What does the Top-Level Domain (TLD) mean?
Top-level domain (TLD) refers to the last segment of a domain name or the part that follows immediately after the “dot” symbol.
TLDs are mainly classified into two categories: generic TLDs and country-specific TLDs. Examples of some of the popular TLDs include .com, .org, .net, .gov, .biz and .edu.
Wherever possible, always go for a .com domain.
Two reasons to choose the .com
- People are more familiar with .com domains than with anything else; they will default to typing ‘.com’ into the browser address bar and are unlikely to remember your extension if it’s too weird. Everyone will always assume a website is a .com.
- The .com TLD is used by approximately 47% of all websites
What is country-specific TLD?
There are some exceptions to the .com rule:
If your website is meant to cater to a local audience, consider going for a local TLD.
For example, building a blog for the German market?
How about getting a .de address? Or for UK it’s a .co.uk
Doing this will give your users that little bit of additional awareness and boost your trustworthiness by making it clear you’re in their country (via the local TLD).
Make it brand aware
We all know that branding is crucial to long-term success, but what exactly makes a domain name brandable?
There are many factors that come into play here, but the most important ones are as follows:
A brandable name has no specific meaning (eg ‘Google’ is not a word, ‘YouTube isn’t one either).
- It’s unique — your competition doesn’t use anything similar.
- It’s easy to remember — not too wordy, no complex vowel combinations.
- It’s easy to pronounce and dictate over the phone.
- It sounds trustworthy
Try making sure the name has a good ring to it.
It should be fun to say out loud, and not difficult to remember.
Think about names like Uber or Pepsi: they are short and snappy, and there’s no confusion as to how to spell them.
Keep It Short, Simple, and Predictable
What are the good characteristics of a quality domain name?
- Make sure you include your keyword in the name, it helps your site’s performance in a search
- Short preferably with fewer than 15 characters, excluding the TLD
- Local Business think about including your location and service in the name. e.g. “painterinyork.co.uk”
- Simple no hyphens, no underscores, no complicated words as part of the domain, or any other punctuation
- Only words avoid using numbers unless necessary
- Predictable no weird spellings for example, if your name is Myke and you want to make it part of your domain such as MykeBlogs.com every single time people will mistype it as MikeBlogs.com.
Section 3 – Checking Your Domain Name is Available
Domain Typer is a great tool that allows fast checking of Domain Name availability.
Video Time Ref: 1 min 1 sec
Firstly and most importantly it will show if your chosen domain name is free and available. It also will check the top-level domain availability i.e. .com or .co.uk
You can also see the availability of your domain name on social networks, thereby stopping any brand clashes.
To use Domain Typer enter your chosen Domain name with no extensions, in the top line.
Domain Typer will then show if this is available to buy.
Here we used the name “patterpaws”.
You can see from the results that this name was not available.
The Top Level Domains shown in “Red” have been bought by someone else.
Second Choice Domain Name
Video Time Ref: 3 min 22 sec
As the Domain “patterpaws” was not available we entered our second choice name “poshwalkies”.
As can be seen, this name is available to purchase.
This Domain Name is also free to use across various social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube etc.
Once you have decided on your domain name and checked availability you can then move to lesson 2.
This lesson will take you through buying your domain name and also a hosting package.
Well done you should now have completed your first lesson and picked your business domain name.
Mark the lesson as complete and move onto your next session.
You can return here at any time.