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Understanding Domain Names

Understanding Domain Names

As a small business owner, the process of creating an online presence for your business can be confusing and frustrating. This article is designed to help you out by providing some information to improve your understanding of domain names.

What is a Domain Name?

First off, what is a domain name and why are they useful? Let’s start with a quick look at how computers find other computers on the internet. When your computer needs to, for example, contact a web server somewhere on the internet so that you can view a website, it needs to know that server’s IP address. That IP address is a four byte address that looks something like this: While IP addresses are great for computers, humans tend to have trouble remembering them. We humans are much more used to remembering names. That is why we have invented domain names. A domain name is basically just a more memorable version of an IP address. When you tell your computer to go to a domain like, your computer looks up the IP address associated with and goes there.

How do I get a Domain Name?

The first step is to decide what you want your domain name to be. It will generally be some form of your company name or the name of some product or service that your company offers. Once you know the domain name that you want, it is time to register it. There are many domain name registering companies around. In fact, if you are using some form of shared web hosting package for your business’s website, your web hosting provider likely also offers domain name registration.

Why Can’t I Get the Name I Want?

It is entirely possible that when you try to register a domain name, you find that it is already taken. There are a couple likely causes for this. The first is that there is a legitimate business that got to that name before you and is already using it. If this is the case, there probably isn’t too much you can do. The other possibility is that someone has registered that domain with no intent to actually use it. This is called domain parking. Some people will register tens or hundreds of domain names which they think someone else might want in the future. If this is the case and you are really attached to the domain name you picked, you can try contacting the owner of the domain to see how much they are willing to part with it for.

.Com, .Net and .Org

Another thing you will run into when registering a domain is the ending. The domain name is a totally separate domain from The .com, .net and .org are the three main endings for domain names. Generally speaking, .com and .net are used by companies while .org is used by non-profit organizations. There is no actual enforcement of who can use .org (for example) but there is an expectation from visitors to a .org webpage of what kind of organization owns the site. Another type of ending is the country specific ending. For example, a Canadian business or the Canadian version of a website might end in .ca. This can be quite helpful if you are trying to target visitors in a specific country.

And there you have it, domain names in a nutshell!

Chris Ricard is the owner of, a Canadian Web Hosting Company that uses Cpanel, an easy-to-use control panel with tools for business owners to make Canadian e-commerce web hosting, business quality web hosting and even personal web hosting manageable for anyone.

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