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Understanding Domain Names

A domain name is a unique means of identification that's easy to remember. The whole system is amazingly simple and barely changed in 25 years, yet it has kept up with the vast expansion of the web, and is scalable to the extent that every person on the planet could, in theory, have their unique personal Internet domain identity. Once you have Domain Name, your Internet service provider (hopefully USP) uses this as the basis for creating specific Internet destinations known as "hostnames". The most popular of all being a web host - where "www" precedes at the left of the domain name.

Once your Internet service provider (ie USP) has control of the "host file" for a domain, then the required services (web, mail) can be connected to that domain identity by setting the details in the "host records". These records contain information that allow the global domain name server (DNS) network to uniquely translate the host name into the unique IP address that is required for the network routing scheme to operate.

DNS records (MX - mail exchanger) also establish the priority of mail handling systems, so that if the first choice of server is not available, fall-backs are available.

So this is a domain name: yourdomain.co.uk
And this is a host name: www.yourdomain.co.uk

The www is actually optional, and is is possible to have default web address that is only the host name. Look at http://usp.net for example. Moreover, it is possible to arrange to have just about any number of host names, all leading to the same destination - either directly or through the process of web forwarding.

What's Hot And What's Not

A lot of surfers guess the domain name of a business (or individual) by simple deduction. So for many "brand" owners, it's important to pick a name that is guessable.

The domains issued on .com are regarded by many as prime locations, whereas domains that end in .co.uk are in some way parochial because they define a specific territory. Well, thanks to some of the landmark sites operated on .co.uk - such as bbc.co.uk - the world is well aware of co.uk

And the chances are that the domain(s) you want are more likely to still be available in .co.uk

The .org and .org.uk domains are mainly intended for non-commercial applications and personal domains.

Domain Name Buying Tactics 

As mentioned above, it is possible to have multiple host names leading to the same web site.

Now that all the really memorable domain names in he most desirable locations (.com & .co.uk) have long since gone, efforts to contrive compound domain names means that it is no longer possible to communicate the domain identity unambiguously. The golden rule is always choose at least one domain that accurately reflects the business name - even if that's long winded:  

alongwindeddomainname.co.uk

But this then begs the question of interpretation; some people will inevitably try:
along-windeddoaminname.co.uk

And this is a wholly separate domain name. This may not bother you, but because this is a separate domain name ANYONE can buy this and confuse - or redirect - your customers.

And then how about..?
a-long-winded-domain-name.co.uk

You may think that confusion arising from "passing off" similar names can be dealt with by legal process - and that may well be right in some cases. But consider the price of such legal process compared to £20 a year "insurance" by controlling all the likely variations on the domain name you use. Read more on tactics in our 'Preregistered Domain Names for Sale' section.