SmallBusiness.com: The free small business resource
A Domain name is a name that is entered into a computer (e.g. as part of a Web site or other URL, or an e-mail address) and then looked up in the global Domain Name System which informs the computer of the Internet Protocol address(es) with that name. A domain name is also called a Web address. A domain name is used as an address for your Web site and e-mail, just like www.smallbusiness.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is a domain name?
A Domain name is an Internet address. For example, the Domain name of this website is Smallbusiness.com. A Domain name has two parts (sometimes preceded by www). For example, in the Domain name Smallbusiness.com, the first part of the domain, "Smallbusiness," is a unique word that represents the website. The second part, com, is called an extension. There are several extensions like com (which stands for commercial). In the U.S., the most common extensions used by small businesses are:
- .com - commercial
- .net - network
- .biz - business
- .info - information
- .us - United States
- .org - non-profit organizations
However, think carefully before choosing a Domain name with an extension other than .com for a small business website. The reason is that many people trying to find your site from memory or perhaps from your brand name or company name, will automatically use .com. You could end up sending traffic to a competitor site.
Who oversees domain names?
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is the internationally organized, non-profit corporation that has responsibility for overseeing top-level domain name system management, and root server system management functions. These services were originally performed under U.S. Government contract by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) and other entities. ICANN now performs the IANA function.
Tips for choosing a domain name
On the Internet, your Domain name is a symbol -- a front-door sign -- of your business. It needs to express who you and your business are, what you do, and what products or services you offer. Your Domain name should reflect your business name or the topic your site will cover. Here are other tips for selecting a domain name:
- Look for a name that is unique and concise and that is easy to say, remember, and spell.
- Spaces and symbols are not allowed; only use letters, numbers, and hyphens.
- If your first choice isn't available, try rearranging the word order, adding hyphens, or using abbreviations or locations to come up with a unique alternative.
How to see if a Domain name is available for registration or purchase
To see if your choice of domain names is available, use a "whois" service (see the list below). If your "perfect" domain name has been registered, you can still contact the owner of the name and offer to buy it. Often domains have been registered with the hopes that someone may come along later to purchase it for a higher amount. Often, such domain names are "listed" with re-sellers or brokers who maintain long lists of domain names for sell or auction (see the list below).
Whois domain search engines
To see if a Domain name is available for registration or to see who has registered a Domain name, use a search engine called a "whois" service. A list of such services can be found here.
Domain name registration services
Domain name are obtained through services called domain name registrars that are "accredited" by ICANN, the non-profit organization that oversees "top-level" domain name system management. You can find a current list of the registrars accredited by ICANN and the top global registrars at the following websites:
Domain name brokers
Domain Name Resources for Small Business
- Smallbusiness-Domain.com - SmallBusiness-Domain offers resources such as expert reviews, coupons, reseearch tools, promo codes, and articles for small businesses looking to buy a domain name, web hosting, or e-commerce.