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Web Hosting - All About Domain Names
"What's in a name?" Shakespeare asks in Romeo and Juliet. In the case of your web site the answer is: quite a lot.
A domain name is the English (or other) language designator for your site. Because of the way the Internet functions, that name is associated with an IP address, a numeric identifier that computers and network components use to connect a browser to a web site.
It's not mandatory that a site has a name. But directing visitors by IP address can quickly generate difficulties. Having an IP address IS mandatory, since it's ultimately the way a web site is located by other computers and network software.
In the early days of the Internet the name was chosen carefully in order to help a person remember the URL. That made it easier to type, too. With hotspots on a page, great search engines, social networking and other contemporary tools, that's not as important now.
But from a marketing perspective, it still helps to have a good name. It's still beneficial to have a site called 'CheapTVs.com' if what you sell are inexpensive TV sets. Calling your site, 'InexpensiveElectronicVisualDisplayDevices.com' may describe your business in some way, but it's a little harder to refer a new person to your site.
Which name you choose can, therefore, affect how much traffic your site gets, how soon. Sooner or later, if you have information and/or products/services that people want, word will get around. But having a good name can certainly help. Love them or hate them, the Google company chose well.
Of course, the fact is that there are millions of web sites around the world. That means, you don't necessarily get the name of your first choice.
ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is the internationally recognized authority for managing IP addresses across the worldwide Internet, along with the top-level domain name-parts (.com, .net, .org, .edu, and so forth). But registering a name is done by simply contacting any of a hundred organizations that work as intermediaries to establish and track the names.
GoDaddy, Register.com, Network Solutions and a great many others provide the service for anywhere from free to a few dollars per month or year. You contact them by navigating to their web site. Then, using a feature they all provide, you can select a possible name. They use something called whois and other software to determine if the name is already claimed. Or, you can check yourself at www.whois.com. Registration is for a limited time, but typically renewable in perpetuity provided you pay the (usually annual) fee.
You may have to go through several choices to find a domain name that isn't already in use. With so many millions of sites, the odds of you getting your first choice is slim, unless you have a highly unusual imagination. But, it's also true that domains tend to die or expire. As they do, the name becomes available for use by someone new.
A method for getting on a 'waiting list' is available. You register the name you want and if and when the name becomes available, you are offered the chance to claim it. Naturally, there's competition even on the waiting list for 'good' names. There are many different ways of establishing priority that vary by company. At any given time there are thousands of so-called auctions going on to bid on names.
Give some thought to your new domain name and research its availability, but don't stress over it. The name isn't everything. After all, if Google had built a search engine that delivered usable results only 10% of the time, their name would be mud.
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