What Is a Domain Name?

Erik Emanuelli / August 21, 2018

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A domain name is a globally unique and specific address for a defined internet space. For example, www.wordpress.com.

As part of a Uniform Resource Locator (URL), a domain name shows where a resource is located within a hierarchical naming system.

The translation of domains into Internet Protocol (IP) addresses occurs with the support of name servers, which are specialized web servers entrusted with the resolution of the IP address name.

Domain Name Structure (DNS)

A domain’s full name is referred to as its Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN). It indicates the exact location of a computer in the DNS hierarchy and consists of two elements: the computer name (host name) and the web address.

In common use, FQDN ends with a “dot” because of the hierarchical structure of the DNS, according to which domains are always distributed beginning from the first level (the root label).

Root label

The highest level of the root of the DNS tree is called the root label. Also known as null label, it is delineated as empty and does not normally appear in internet user applications.

Name servers, on the other hand, must always have the complete FQDN with a “dot” at the end, next to the top-level domain (ns1.wordpress.com).

Top-Level Domain (TLD)

The top-level domain is the last piece of a domain name and represents the highest level in the DNS hierarchy.

TLDs are managed by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which is also responsible for organizing namespace databases like the generic TLD “.com” and country-specific ones such as “.us” (a complete list of country domains can be found on World Standards).

Second-Level Domain (SLD or 2LD) and SubDomain

The second-level domain defines a freely chosen name within the top-level domain. Third- or fourth-level domain names (and so forth) might also be used to identify further subdivisions of the primary domain.

How to register a domain name

It only takes a few minutes to register your domain name, which will be valid for a specific amount of time (multiples of a year).

Choose your desired domain name and select an ICANN-accredited registrar to get started.

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