The domain name identifies the address of the website, just as a postal address constitutes the address of an accommodation. Users enter the domain name in their search engine, to go to the website and visit it. Note that the domain name can also be used to identify the e-mail address. When creating a website, 3 elements are essential to make it accessible online: at least a web page, a host and a domain name. Definition, challenges and suppliers: the point on the key information to know when determining the domain name of a site.
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What is a domain name?
By definition, the domain name, NDD or DN for Domain Name in English, composes the address of the website and possibly the e-mail address. It is a name easy to communicate by the creator of the site and easy to remember for the Internet user: in this way, access to the website is facilitated.
Technically, domain names disguise IP addresses, translating numbers into words in order to facilitate the use of the web. Indeed, a website is originally identified by an IP address, made up of a series of unique numbers. The computer uses this digital suite to connect to the server, and thus access the content of the site. But a series of numbers and difficult to memorize. It is to overcome this difficulty that domain names were created: rather than a series of numbers, the user enters a domain name to go to the website.
Examples of domain names
The domain name, precisely, is a part of the internet address. The internet address, also called URL, is made up as follows:
- A prefix: “www. “.
- The domain name: the domain name is made up of a series of characters, and a “.something” extension. The extension is also called TLD for Top Level Domain.
URL = prefix + domain name (string of characters + extension)
Example with HubSpot:
- The HubSpot name is the trade name.
- The URL of the HubSpot website is: www.hubspot.fr.
- HubSpot’s domain name is: hubspot.fr.
A URL is always structured in 3 levels: the prefix “www. »Constitutes the 3rd level; the domain name constitutes the 2 other levels. The sequence of characters, “hubspot” in the example, constitutes the 2nd level and the “.fr” extension in the example constitutes the 1st level.
To note that :
- To form the sequence of characters, letters, numbers and hyphens are allowed. All other characters are excluded: spaces, quotes or at-signs are prohibited. When determining the domain name, it is wise to choose a readable and memorable suite, to facilitate access to the website. It is customary for the company to use its trade name.
- The choice of domain name extension is framed. 2 types of extensions are available to choose from: national or ccTLD extensions for Country Code Top Level Domain, the “.fr” for example; generic or gTLD extensions for Generic Top Level Domain, “.com” or “.net” for example. To cope with the growth of the web, new extensions are being gradually created: the “.sport” or the “.paris”, for example.
- The domain name of a website can be broken down into subdomains. In the previous example: “blog.hubspot.fr” is the subdomain of “hubspot.fr”.
Choose an available domain name
The creator of a website chooses a suitable domain name: a readable, memorable and attractive name. Ideally, the company copies the domain name of its website on its commercial name, to allow its immediate and unmistakable identification. Once the domain name has been chosen, it is necessary to check its availability. 2 rules in effect for the attribution of domain names: each name is unique, and the first come is the first served.
Like every postal address, each domain name is unique, for obvious reasons of website identification. Please note: a domain name is unique insofar as it consists of a series of characters and an extension. This implies that the same string of characters can identify 2 distinct websites if the extension changes. Example: mon-site-internet.fr and mon-site-internet.com redirect to 2 separate sites.
1st come, 1st served: this involves choosing an available domain name for your website, knowing that the 1st to reserve a domain name becomes the holder, and that it is therefore impossible to use the same due to the uniqueness of domain names.
How to check the availability of a domain name? A domain name is available if it has not previously been reserved by a third party. To check availability:
- Enter the name envisaged in a search engine: if the search engine redirects directly to a website, this means that the domain name has already been taken.
- The safest and fastest way to check availability: use a dedicated tool. Many free search services exist for this purpose, the Whois database for example.
- Most websites that offer domain name reservations provide a tool to check availability. In any case, no domain name reservation site authorizes the reservation of an unavailable name.
Sites to buy a domain name
A domain name is bought from the registrars of domain names, the “registrars” in English. In practice, it is the website hosting providers who reserve them on behalf of their customers: for practical reasons, the domain name hosting and reservation services are grouped together with the same provider. Some providers also offer website creation services. Design, hosting and domain name: all technical aspects are handled by a single service provider. Note that this single service provider can also allocate the domain name to the e-mail address of the owner of the website, so as to professionalize its image. You will have to choose a provider from among the domain name reservation providers:
A key player in hosting and European leader, the French host OVHcloud has become a global giant that caters to both individuals and large companies.
Advantages : 30 data centers around the world with the possibility of hosting data in France, various offers and innovations, free SSL certificate, speed of servers.
Disadvantages : Speed of customer support, complexity of the administrator interface, no free trial.
Gandi is a French web host that offers a multitude of services from domain name registration to cloud hosting, including shared hosting or free SSL certificates.
Advantages : 10 days free trial, performance, free SSL certificate, support options, solidarity and civic internet commitment.
Disadvantages : speed of customer support, no free domain name.
IONOS by 1 & 1
The German-born host IONOS by 1 & 1 offers shared hosting solutions under Windows and Linux, domain name registration as well as virtual, cloud and dedicated servers.
Advantages : 30 day trial, free SSL certificate, tens of thousands of
servers in the USA and Europe with protection in case of failure
Disadvantages : access and speed of customer support, speed of domain name transfer from one registrar to another.
GoDaddy is the most famous of the hosts but also one of the most popular. It offers a variety of services ranging from domain registration and site hosting to business emails..
Advantages : The reference because it is the most important recording service, reliability, French-speaking support, ease of use, unlimited bandwidth.
Disadvantages : no free SSL certificate, no migration service, price.
AFNIC, the association that manages domain names with the “.fr” extension, references accredited registrars.
Pay the subscription. A domain name cannot be bought, the reservation is similar to a rental: the domain name is reserved for a fixed period, but renewable indefinitely. Count on average from 10 to 15 € per year. The price varies from one extension to another, and depending on the scope of the services provided. A provider charges more when the service includes the creation of subdomains or 24-hour phone support, for example.
For the story: the 1st domain name in the world is “symbolics.com”, registered and renewed since March 15, 1985 by a computer manufacturer. If the domain name still belongs to the same holder, the website now offers a different range of services.
Issues related to the domain name
The choice of domain name must be strategic, because the stakes are high.
A brand recognition issue: the domain name of a company represents its commercial identity online, it is important that it be identical to the commercial name. For new brands, a difficulty arises when choosing a domain name: many of them are unavailable. One practice is then to create a brand name based on the availability of the domain name. The company also makes sure to renew its domain name when it expires. A priori, the domain name reservation service provider notifies the holder by sending a reminder at the end of the annual subscription.
- a SEO issue : the keywords of the domain name contribute to improving the natural referencing of the website. It is important to have this information in mind when choosing your domain name, let alone your brand name.
- a economic challenge : the domain name is an intangible asset, valued in the same way as the other assets of the company. Hence the interest in reserving one or more domain names, regardless of the use that the company makes of its website.
- a intellectual property issue : domain names are still the subject of legal vagueness, case-law deals gradually, on a case-by-case basis, with disputes relating to the use of domain names. For the moment, it is possible to register a domain name even though the trademark is registered with the INPI. As a precaution, the company therefore takes care to reserve its domain name at the same time as it registers its brand name. The company thus avoids the risk of cybersquatting, this unfair practice which consists for a third party in registering a domain name made up of a registered trademark name, to then resell the domain name at a high price. The company may also have an interest in reserving variants of its domain name: by using several different extensions, and by modifying the sequence of characters, with dashes and the use of the singular and the plural, for example. In doing so, the company avoids the risk of confusion that arises when a third party registers a similar domain name. Please note that the regulation of domain names is built up over time. When choosing your domain name, it is therefore important to anticipate the risk of legal proceedings and sanctions. To this end, the company takes care not to reserve a domain name that infringes the intellectual property rights of a third party.
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