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What is a Domain? A Full Guide for Beginners

What is a domain name and how does it work? These questions seem to be rather simple, however, if you’re a complete beginner and want to start creating your first website, you may not be familiar with it just yet. 

To make sure that you understand everything clearly, I will provide you with detailed information on a domain name, including definition, different types of domains, the difference between free and paid options, where you can purchase them, and even more

After this guide, you will be able to no longer consider yourself a beginner but rather an advanced user. On top of that, once you know what a domain is, you could then also check out Zyro or Squarespace, and even think about creating a site, too!

So, without further ado, let’s jump to the next section and find out what is a domain name. 

Ilir Salihi

Head of Content at FreedomRep

What is important to consider when choosing a domain name?

When choosing a domain name, the ".com" is still the most popular and widely used of all domain extensions. Because of its popularity, the perfect ".com" might be difficult to find. Explore different available domain names until you find one that makes sense for you. If you do find the perfect domain name and the ".com" is unavailable, the ".org" or ".net" is also worth considering. While there is a long list of available domain extensions, I would steer clear of most of them. Avoid the temptation of something like a ".ninja" or ".buzz" for your new website!

What is a Domain Name? 

Let me provide you with a domain name definition founded in Cambridge Dictionary:

“the part of an email or website address on the internet that shows the name of the organization that the address belongs to”. 

In simple terms, a domain name is an exceptional name that is used to identify your website. A domain name is what occurs after “@” in email address and after “www.” in a web address. 

What is a domain name: domain name.

For example, our domain name is mybestwebsitebuilder.com. 

How are Domain Names Different From Websites? 

There’s a common confusion, especially when it comes to beginners, that a domain name and website are one and the same, or that they simply go together. However, that’s not true. 

When it comes to domain names and websites, they can be separated from one another and still exist

For example, when you create a website, you can purchase a new domain name or connect an already existing one. If you decide to transfer that particular domain name to another website, you can simply disconnect it from the current site and transfer it to another one. 

Therefore, it should be clear by now what is a domain name and how it works, so let’s move further and find out about different types of domains

Different Types of Domains

When it comes to domain names, there are different types of available extensions. According to Domain Name Stat, 41% of people are usually choosing domain names with .com extensions, however, other options are also relatively popular. 

If you want to fully understand what is a domain, you should be aware of different types of extensions that you can choose from. 

Top-Level Domains (TLDs)

A top-level domain refers to domain name extensions that are considered to be highest in the Domain Name System hierarchy. Even though there are hundreds of domain name extensions, top-level domains are considered to be the ones that include suffixes such as .com, .org, .net, .edu, .gov, .mil, and others. 

Below you can find the distribution of TLDs

What is a domain name: Top TDLs distribution.

Source: Domain Name Stat

As you can see, domains with .com extension are the most popular. It’s not a secret that they tend to be the most expensive as well. If you’re interested in finding out more about the most pricey domain names, I’ll provide you with detailed information in the further section. 

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Country Code Top-Level Domains (ccTLDs)

ccTLD is created for geographical locations. Such domain names have a country-code extension. For example, .au goes for Australia, .uk for the United Kingdom, and so on. 

The reason why so many people choose ccTLDs is because they can target a country-specific audience. Customers can easily recognize local websites that’s crucial when looking for online stores. 

Sponsored Top-Level Domains are used by businesses involved in specific industries. When it comes to sTLDs, there are different extensions, including: 

  • .edu - education
  • .gov - government 
  • .int - international
  • .mil - military 
  • etc.

Thus, by now you should not only understand what is a domain but also be aware of different types of domain names that you can choose from. 

The Most Expensive Domains Ever Sold

Since you’re interested in finding out what is a domain, I bet that you’re also curious about the most expensive domains ever sold

What is a domain name: man working on computer.

Buying and selling domains can be really profitable, there are multiple marketplaces where you can do that. Some domains that were bought for a few dollars a few years ago, can be sold for millions of dollars today. Let me introduce you to some of the most expensive domain names ever sold: 

  • CarInsurance.com - sold for $49.7 million back in 2010. The domain name was purchased by QuinStreet - a publicly-traded marketing company.
  • Insurance.com - bought by QuinStreet for $35.6 million.
  • VacationRentals.com - purchased by Brian Sharpies in 2009 for $35 million dollars. This domain was purchased solely for the purpose to prevent the competitors from purchasing it.

If you’re interested, you can check out other most expensive domains that were ever sold on Wikipedia. You’ll notice that all of them come with the .com extension. That’s because .com domain suffix is the most commonly used and the most valued.

People usually choose .com domains because they add trust, demonstrate authority and longevity. For all of these reasons, I would recommend choosing a domain with a .com extension for you as well. 

Where Can I Purchase Domain Name?

There are different ways and places where you can purchase a domain name, including: 

  • Website building platforms 
  • Web hosting platforms
  • Domain name registrars

Let’s go through each of them and find out more. 

Purchasing Domain from Website Builders

The first and the easiest option for non-technical people who are creating their sites using website builders is to purchase a domain name together with a subscription.

What is a domain name: man working on computer.

When buying a domain name directly from website builder providers, you can usually save a significant amount. That’s because some of them will provide you with a free domain for one year together with a paid plan. 

Since there’s such a variety of website builders to choose from, I would like to introduce you to the most reliable options: Squarespace, Zyro, Wix and Weebly. Each of these website builder providers gives you a free domain for the first year. Of course, that’s only when you choose an annual subscription

Let’s take a look at each of them more closely.  

Squarespace

Squarespace is one of the best-known website builders in the market. It was launched back in 2004 and is recommended for everyone who values visual aspects. This website builder works amazing for designers, photographers, and other artists that want to create sleek-looking websites

What is a domain name: Squarespace.

Squarespace is a self-hosted website builder, meaning that you won’t have to worry about web hosting. What is more, it comes with amazing features and is suitable not only for personal websites but also for online stores

Squarespace prices start from $12 per month for a basic plan.

Zyro

Zyro is an up-and-coming website builder that already offers some amazing features to the user. The builder in question has everything from extensive eCommerce features, all the way up to some original template designs and an interactive builder interface.

What is a domain: Zyro's homepage.

Zyro's pricing plans start at $1,30 per month, for the Basic plan.

Wix 

Wix is one of the most popular website builders in the market. While it’s being widely advertised, it comes with truly amazing features. Wix is a cloud-based website builder that’s fully hosted, just like Squarespace. 

This website builder provides you with hundreds of templates to choose from, an extensive app store and  other amazing features. Wix allows you to take advantage of a free subdomain that looks like this: username.wixsite.com/siteaddress. While it can be used if you’re just experimenting or want to create a personal website, it’s not recommended in other cases. 

What is a domain name: Wix.

The most inexpensive Wix plan that’s recommended for personal use, will cost you $13 per month. It comes with a free domain for 1 year. 

Weebly 

Weebly was founded back in 2006 and is one of the most recommended website builders for beginners. It has a very clear interface that makes it easy to navigate even for inexperienced users. 

Wix allows you to create different types of websites: blogs, online stores, portfolios, and so many more. Weebly pricing starts from $8 per month.

What is a domain name: Weebly.

Therefore, when choosing one of these website builders, you get a free domain for 1 year as well as don’t have to worry about web hosting. Also, all of them can work perfectly for people who don’t fully understand what is a domain. 

Purchasing Domain from Web Hosting Providers

Another option is to purchase a domain from web hosting providers. Let me introduce you to a few of the most recommended options. 

HostGator

HostGator is one of the most reliable web hosting providers in the market that ensures at least 99.98% uptime. You can choose from Shared, VPN and Dedicated hosting. Each of them comes with additional plans for different needs. 

HostGator customer service will be there for your 24/7, it provides you with manual backups, free website content transfer and multiple other features that will make your experience a lot more enjoyable. 

What is a domain name: Hostgator.

When choosing an annual HostGator plan, you get a selected domain for free for the first year. The HostGator prices start from $2.75 per month

BlueHost

Everyone in the industry knows about BlueHost. It comes with some really amazing features, including 24/7 live chat, unlimited bandwidth, capable security, free SSL certificate, and so much more. 

BlueHost provides you with multiple plans to choose from, including Shared, Cloud, VPS, and Dedicated hosting. Together with an annual plan, BlueHost provides you with a free domain for 1 year. BlueHost prices are as low as $2.75 per month

Domain Name Registrar

Finally, you can purchase a domain name from domain name registrars.

If you’re not aware yet, a domain name registrar is a company that allows you to purchase domain names that are available at that time. To find free domain names, you can simply perform a search on a domain registrar’s page. Remember that prices vary as well, so you’ll be able to see them near different domain names. 

When it comes to the recommended domain name registrars, one of the options that you should consider is Domain.com. It’s one of the most popular and reliable domain name registrars that was founded back in 2000

How to Choose a Domain Name? 

Based on 2019 data, there are more than 350 million domain name registrations. This means that if you want to distinguish from others, you have to think everything through and create a unique domain name. 

Since it can be difficult to think of a good domain name, I would like to provide you with a few tips that can help: 

  • Not too long. Domain names shouldn’t be long. It’s best if you make it up to 2 or 3 words. This way people will be able to remember it easier. Also, it won’t take as long to type it in. 
  • Simple and easy to remember. Simplicity is what creates a good domain name. The simpler the name, the easier people can remember it. When it comes to super fancy and unknown words, it can be difficult to remember as well as type in. 
  • Include a keyword. It’s recommended to include a keyword that can describe your industry. For example, “boutique”, “rental”, and so on. If it’s possible, you can also include your location. This way, people will be able to instantly recognize what kind of services you provide. 
  • Represent your brand. Since you know what is a domain, you probably understand that it should represent your brand. While creating a unique brand name can take days, if it can help you to stand out, it’s completely worth it. 
  • Your website name. It’s obvious that if you have a brand name, it should be included in your domain name. If all the domains are taken, make sure to keep it as similar as possible. 

You should know that simple and easy-to-remember domain names usually work better than unique ones. So, even if you want your domain name to stand out, there’s no reason to beat yourself up if you cannot think of something ‘special’. 

This article on “what is a domain name?” is coming to an end, so let’s conclude all the information that was provided in this guide. 

Conclusions

Therefore, a domain is a name that is used to identify your website. It should be clear, not too long, easy-to-remember, represent your brand as well as signalize people what kind of business you’re representing.  

While there are different types of domains you can choose from, it’s recommended to pick .com extension that’s considered to be the most reliable. 

What is a domain name: man working near computer.

You can purchase a domain from domain name registrars, website builders or web hosting providers. If you’re creating a site using a website builder at the moment and don’t have a domain name, you can get it directly from the provider. 

If you’re looking for a way to spare your savings, you can choose website builders that provide you with a free domain for one year together with an annual plan. Such website builders include Zyro, Wix, Squarespace and Weebly

Ilir Salihi

Head of Content at FreedomRep

Contributed by: Ilir Salihi , Head of Content at FreedomRep

Ilir is a blogger, affiliate marketer, and digital marketing consultant. He began his online marketing journey in 2012 and hasn't looked back since. He enjoys sharing what he's learned over the yea...

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Recent User Reviews

edu domain name

Do you need to pay for .edu domain? I know a lot of educational institutions that using it for their websites.

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.com and .net are the most reliable ones. Check any popular website >;

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Free Domain name

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FAQ

What is a domain name?

In simple words, a domain name is a unique name that's used to identify your website. For example, in https://www.google.com, a domain name is google.com.

What are the benefits of using the top website makers?

The most obvious benefit of using the top website makers is simplicity. You are likely to never encounter a problem that wouldn’t have an obvious solution that you could implement in just a few minutes time (and even if you were, there’s always customer support). Further benefits include awesome website design, built-in search engine optimization (SEO) kits, easily manageable eCommerce features, and so on.

What sets MyBestWebsiteBuilder apart from other top website builders reviews sites?

The team of MyBestWebsiteBuilder is focused on one thing, and one thing only - to provide the reader with the most accurate, factual and experience-proven information about the top website builders in the current market. We do not aim to compare or compete with other review websites - it is not in our best interest. Instead, we strive to prove that manually testing each single website maker and combining that information with user reviews is the most optimal way to provide correct and unbiased information about the top website builders.

Is it easy to create a website with the top website builders?

Generally, website makers are known for being extremely easy to use. That’s actually their whole initial deal - while website constructors such as WordPress could be intimidating for anyone who doesn’t have any technical knowledge of the topic, best website makers aim to solve this problem by offering users the ability to create their website in a single afternoon.

Can I use a website maker to create an online shop?

Yup - most of the time you definitely can. In fact, it’s actually a really big selling point for a lot of the top website makers out there - you will see providers advertise the fact that you can set up a dropshipping business on your website in just a few clicks of the mouse! Usually, processes such as shipping fees and transactional details are already taken care of by the website builders themselves.