The domain for a website is the address that you can view on a browser. It’s simple enough to understand. But do not underestimate the power of the domain address. This is essentially the face of your website on the internet.
When you register with a CMS like WordPress to create your own website, you will get a prompt to type in the domain address. Now, don’t rush in and type just anything. First you must sit back and understand what the domain name is and what it entails.
Think of the domain name like your own name, or the name of your business. If the name is generic, uninteresting, or common, people will soon forget it. The domain name should be unique to a site. There is no substitute for it.
Also, the domain name reserves a permanent place for your site on the internet. It’s like your home, but you can move the location if you like. For example, if you want to change your web host, you can take your domain name with you. You will not have to start the process of building a new site all over again.
All web addresses on the internet are registered in the Domain Name System. The DNS is a hierarchical structure managed by various entities from international to country levels. You can use a CMS like WordPress, a web host like Bluehost or an authorized domain name registrar like GoDaddy to get your own web address.
When you use a platform like WordPress, you will be prompted to enter a domain name. You will be given two options: use a free .wordpress.com address or a paid .com or similar address. Do not use a free domain attached to another website. Your website will be part of that site forever. Instead, you should purchase a custom domain such as www.mysite.com. When you do so, you will be the sole owner of your site.
When you decide on a domain name, you should register it using any online domain name registrar for as cheap as 10 USD per year. Annual registration usually ranges from 10 USD to 30 USD. In LKR, the prices are generally 1,500 upwards per year. If you buy a domain name from an international company, you will have to pay in dollars. If you use a local domain name registrar, you can pay in rupees. The price difference is solely due to the exchange rate.
You can register a domain name annually, bi-annually or per decade. Plans may defer depending on the registrar you choose. Popular domain name registrars you can use include name.com, Gandi, Namecheap, and Hover.
A custom domain, as explained above, is a domain name you create from scratch. You choose the name and register it under your business or your own name. For example, www.mysite.com is a custom domain.
A subdomain is a slightly different web address attached to the children pages of your website. For example, the customer support page on your website may have the address help.mysite.com. That is a subdomain of the master domain www.mysite.com. Subdomains are not independent of the master domain address. They are attached to the parent site, though they can be considered semi-independent.
The domain extension is the .com, .org, or .gov part of a web address. It’s very important and identifies a domain name as belonging to a business, a government, or an organization.
You must carefully choose the domain extension. Do not impulsively choose a .com address. Consider if .org or .net might be more suitable for the purpose of the website. If you are a business or an individual user, .com should be the preferred choice. Stay away from obscure domain names like .biz, because web users generally do not remember them.
The domain extension also indicates the location of a website. For example, if you see the .lk extension on a site, you know that the site is Sri Lankan. You can include a geographically-specific domain extension if you want the site to be viewed locally. For example, if you are a business with a Sri Lankan customer base, purchasing a .lk extension will be more beneficial than the common .com extension. Google prioritises local domain extensions for local searches, which will help you reach your target audience better.
You can buy a .com or .org domain extension from any number of registrars located worldwide. However, a local domain extension like .lk can only be purchased from a domain name registrar able to offer you that extension.
In Sri Lanka, Lanka Host and LK Domain Name Registry are the best known authorized registrars for the .lk extension. If you are a Sri Lankan or a business located overseas, you can use a service like Gandi to purchase this extension. However, you will be asked to provide specific information as to why you need this extension.
Extra fees are not normally charged for the .lk extension. If you currently have a .com or another extension, you can convert it to a .lk extension by contacting the registrars mentioned above.
As explained above, the domain name is very important in identifying your website. If you have a common domain, your site will be easily forgotten or confused with some other site. Therefore, you must aim to make your domain name unique and easy to remember for web users.
In addition, you should try to make your domain name SEO friendly. SEO refers to methods that make your website easy for engines like Google to search for. Business domains should be optimised for search engines to rank high among results. The best way to optimise your domain name in this manner is to find relevant keywords. For example, if you sell flowers online, you can use a keyword like online flowers in your domain name. You will increase your chances of getting ranked at the top of search results for that keyword.
However, using keywords should not make your web address too long or too complicated. Keep your domain name short and free of symbols like hyphens. Remember that your domain name is permanent. A keyword that may trend now will most likely be irrelevant the next year. Therefore, be smart when it comes to choosing keywords for a domain name.
Closely follow the advice given above to choose a domain name, register it, and optimise it.