What is a Domain Name?
A domain name is generally the name given to a website – doh! It’s not technically 100% correct, but it’s how people generally use the term.
For example – www.noisylittlemonkey.com – is widely considered to be our website’s domain name. Actually, only noisylittlemonkey.com is the domain name, the www bit is a sub domain... but let's not worry about that for now.
A domain name needs a Registrant (the person or organisation who effectively ‘owns’ the domain and continues to renew it) and there can be only one. We have registered noisylittlemonkey.com and no other party can use it without our permission (or without us transferring the registration to them).
If you are setting up a website, you’ll need to pay to register a unique domain name that has not been registered by anyone else. Our favourite site for domain name registration is Free Parking. Any good web designer might offer to register a domain on your behalf, but sometimes they’ll get lazy and use their own name as the registrant. This is not good practice, you or your organisation must be the registrant of your domain name.
If you are taking over a website remember to ask who registered the domain – for example it might be the founder of the business who owns the website, the original web designer or a marketing agency – and get the registration transferred to you or your organisation. This is important as if you don’t 'own' the domain, the registration can lapse and you may lose it or find you are asked for an exorbitant amount to transfer it.
Want to know who has registered your domain name? This information is freely available through WHOIS an amazing international resource about domain names.
A typical web address for an organisation is comprised of three elements. Read more about how you can use them to get better search engine rankings by following the links:
Want to know more about URLs? Check out the rest of the series "The Anatomy of a URL"