Know More About Web Addresses

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Domain NamesWeb addresses, otherwise known as domain names, are a very important feature of using the web that most of us take for granted. They make using the web convenient and are also representative of brands and household names.

Without them, it would be cumbersome to recall how to get to the websites we love and frequently visit. In the traditional sense of addresses, domain names can be thought of as an indicator of location where certain documents and information can be found and rely on an intricate system of networked computers on the internet that make this possible. Without them, using the web would otherwise be a totally different experience than we are used to.

The Technical Abstraction

Domain names primarily serve the function of making it easy for users to find internet resources such as computers or websites. They serve as an abstraction that replaces the original IP address used to locate such internet resources with a simple string of characters that is easy to remember. The original IP address is typically a grouping of numbers separated by dots which computers can easily work with but are a nightmare for their human counterparts. When you type a web address into your web browser, several steps are carried out behind the scenes before the website loads into the browser. First the browser queries a domain name server (DNS) which keeps tables of each domain name and the corresponding IP address. From the DNS lookup, the browser then uses the corresponding IP address to contact the web server hosting the website through its IP address with a request for a specific resource such as a web page or a file which is then returned and loaded into the browser.

Format of A Web Address

As you are already familiar with, a web address is typically made up of several parts that ends in an extension separated by a dot from the rest of the address, such as .com, .net or .org. This is the generic top level domain(gTLDs) that is indicative of the category of the website. To the left of the gTLDs is the second level domain which represents the organisation for which the web address is registered. There can be many sub domains existing in levels lower in the hierarchy than the second level domains. You will also find country code top level domains(ccTLDs) which are based on the country of origin of the owner of the domain such as .za South Africa or .ke for Kenya. The first part of a domain name is often used to designate the type of host server such as www in the case of a world wide web server or mail or FTP server. In recent times new generic top level domains have emerged allowing people and organizations to register web addresses that are more in line with their professions such as .tech, .food or .plumber which sends a strong signal about what the website is all about. Associated with each web address you might find the protocol used which comes at the very beginning of the web address string taking the form of http:// for hypertext transfer protocol or https:// for its secure counterpart. The protocol isn’t necessarily a part of the address but is rather associated with it.

Picking a Web Address

Web addresses are very important as they can become a significant part of your brand and for this reason, it is important to carefully select them. First and foremost, your web address has to resonate with what your brand, business or organization stands for or is all about. The web address has to be something that easily comes to mind and is easy to remember. It should also not be unnecessarily lengthy. You do not want your potential visitors pulling out their hair trying to remember what your web address is. It is a good idea to come up with several ideas for the web address you are going to use for your website and then run it by your friends and colleagues to get their opinion on what works best. It is also important to try and get it right the first time around since changing web addresses at a later stage, whilst not difficult, results in a loss of the reputation you would have built up on the former address when you change over to a new one.

Registering a Web Address

Before an individual or an organisation can own a web address, they have to register that particular domain through a domain registrar. There are many web hosting companies that provide this service. You should be aware that ownership of a domain is not ownership in the legal sense but you are granted the right to use that particular address for a specified period of time with the right to renew  your ownership before it expires. Furthermore, before you can register a domain, it must be available; that is it must not be registered to someone else at the time you are registering that domain. In order to find out if the domain you are interested in does not belong to someone else, you carry out a domain name search with a website that is providing such a service. Examples of such websites are whois servers or companies selling domains. The search results from some of these services can be quiet cryptic. Whilst some services will tell you that the domain you are looking for is registered or available, others will issue an error and tell you the domain you are searching for does not exist in their records, which means that the domain is available for you to register and will show you the details of an existing registrant if it is already registered.

Building a Brand Around Your Web Address

Brand recognition is one of the drivers for effective marketing and good business. You are likely to sell more or reach more people if they are aware of your brand. A web address can play a pivotal role in efforts to develop and build your brand. However, these are efforts that should be carried out consistently and with a long term view. Choosing a domain is the first step in building your brand through a website and once the website is running, you may carry out several marketing approaches such as search engine optimization or paid advertising to build up traffic to your website and improve brand recognition. By making the right choice in initially selecting your web address, future marketing and promotional efforts will seamlessly fall into place.

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