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Domains Explained


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Presented at a Women for the Web workshop on October 15th, 2014 in Missoula, Montana. Presenters: Christy Costello and Emily Witcher

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Domains Explained

  1. 1. Domains Explained Christy Costello & Emily Witcher
  2. 2. What is a domain name? • A unique name that identifies a website • intended to be a friendly and memorable "nickname" • Formed by the rules of the vv domain name system (DNS) and organizations like ICANN, IANA, ARIN • A domain name points to a computer (host) – similar to how a house address directs someone to a designated plot of land • A domain name is NOT the same as IP address
  3. 3. Top Level Domains Every domain name has a suffix that indicates which generic top level domain (gTLD) it belongs to. There are only a limited number of such domains. vv
  4. 4. Let’s break down a URL! http:// = protocol www = subdomain vv example = domain name .com = domain extension, or top level domain /planets/mars.html = path* /planets/ = directory* /mars.html = file name* *(case sensitive)
  5. 5. Common gTLDs .com represents the word "commercial," and is the most widely used extension in the world .net was originally used to designate an intranet system vv .org is commonly used by a non-profit or trade organization .info signifies a credible “resource" website Anyone can register a domain name using these extensions
  6. 6. Common gTLDs .edu signifies an educational institute .gov means it’s a governmental website .mil is used for the military vv Not just anyone can register these gTLDS! Trivia Note: Most American servers use three-letter top level domains (e.g. ".com", ".edu"). Countries other than the USA commonly use two letters, or combinations of two letters (e.g. ".au", ".ca", "")
  7. 7. vv Newer TLD’s Famous example Booking.yeah Others (there are hundreds) .guru, .photography Although newer domain extensions can be reserved, many of them are unusable because they are not recognized as valid extensions in certain web browsers. This will change as time goes on.
  8. 8. So what domain extension should I use? .com will always be dominant because works across all languages and borders, unlike English words such as .company or .guru vv • For branding purposes, .com is a nice blank and generic canvas • Major brand identities would be altered by relaunching tomorrow as,, etc.
  9. 9. Which domain name would you choose? ① ② vv ③ ④ ⑤ ⑥
  10. 10. Domains and SEO Domain names play a direct vv role in search engine indexing. When choosing a domain name: • Avoid numbers and abbreviations, as search engines do not know what they are • Review domain name from different perspectives for undesirable word combinations
  11. 11. Punctuation and length consideration  Avoid being too lengthy • Do not use a dash to separate words vv  Domain names are NOT case sensitive  No difference between and
  12. 12. Branding and Marketing Concerns ① What if someone else owns the domain you vv want? ② Registering potential misspellings ③ How many domain variations should be secured?
  13. 13. Where to go to register a domain name A domain name registrar is an organization or commercial entity that manages the reservation of vv domain names. • A registrar must be accredited by a top-level domain (TLD) registry • Common registrars: Enom, GoDaddy, Network Solutions, NameCheap • Only use reputable registrars
  14. 14. Domain resellers vs. registrars • A domain name reseller is an individual or organization that resells domain names through a domain name registrar reseller program. vv • Domains are still registered through the domain name registrar, but resellers can offer domain registration services at their websites and earn a profit from each domain registered. • Most, but not all web hosts are simply domain name resellers.
  15. 15. Common domain resellers • Hosting companies: Wordpress, Google, etc. • These are not real domain registrars, they use a third-party. vv
  16. 16. Registering a domain name Past: limited registrars  Now: open reseller market How much should it cost?  $10-25/ year for a basic domain vv  Register domain through web host or separately?  What information do you need to provide?  Admin, Technical contact info(address, phone, email), nameservers (if custom) and IP information  Most transactions confirmed via email
  17. 17. Public versus private registration • A domain name’s registration information is publically listed in an internet directory called the WHOIS database (like a phone book) vv • subject to solicitations • Private registration shields your information and puts the domain registration in the registrars’ name instead The name listed on the registration is the actual domain name owner! Use caution.
  18. 18. Other “Enticing Offers” from Registrars Do you really need any of them? vv
  19. 19. vv
  20. 20. vv
  21. 21. vv
  22. 22. vv So, how many “enticing” services do you really need?
  23. 23. How to assign a domain name to a website vv
  24. 24. Technicalities: Nameservers and IP Addresses  Nameservers act as distributed directories for matching domain names with destinations (specific computers, aka servers or hosts) vv  Destinations are usually IP Addresses; sometimes they are other domains  Example of an IP Addresses:  A nameserver can be authoritative for one or more domains. If it’s not authoritative for a particular domain, it knows how to find the authoritative source. (a smart phone book)
  25. 25. Technicalities: Nameservers and IP Addresses  Which are the authoritative nameservers for a domain?  Answer: The nameservers associated with the domain’s registrar record vv (this can be looked up via WHOIS and at most registrars)  What if I don’t know what IP address to use for my domain name?  Ask the person who build your web site  Ask the company that’s hosting your site  As the domain owner, YOU are responsible for entering this information and for keeping this information up to date!
  26. 26. Authoritative nameservers and your registrar  It’s simplest to use your registrar’s nameserver, but that is not always technically possible (ex. WordPress)  All registrars will give you the option of either using their nameservers to record domain vv setup information, or entering the addresses of custom nameservers where that information will be recorded.
  27. 27. Sample DNS Records vv
  28. 28. Setting up both AND  The www prefix is a common convention, but not a requirement. It’s not important WHICH you choose, vv just THAT you choose.  Use your choice consistently in all of your advertising, communication, etc.  Set up a redirect (not just an alias) from the one you didn’t choose to the one you did choose. Sometimes called a “301 redirect”. This is important for SEO.
  29. 29. Two recommended settings  Registrar-Lock: keeps other people from transferring the domain away from your ownership without your approval  Auto Renew: prevents domain from expiring (requires current credit vv card information)
  30. 30. Troubleshooting Domain Problems Help! The domain I want is available, but listed as a premium domain for $1000. Why? vv If a domain name has been utilized in the past, it is assigned a value. Based on this value, registrars will declare certain domains as premium. • is a premium domain •
  31. 31. Troubleshooting domain issues Why is it so hard to make changes? • Updates and changes require verification via email, and can take 48 hours to vv a week for the change to take effect • Lots of admin layers to go through (registrar + WHOIS database) •Examples of changes you might make: Transferring a domain to a new owner, moving a web site to a new server or service (WordPress)
  32. 32. Troubleshooting domain issues Someone hijacked my domain before it was due to expire! vv • How to tell if your domain has been hijacked • How it happens • What can you do?
  33. 33. vv
  34. 34. Troubleshooting domain problems I had a domain registered but it expired – what’s my recourse? vv •Expired (40 to 45 days) •The domain has expired and the Registrant’s rights have lapsed •Domain is “on-hold” but can still be renewed •Redemption (30 days) •Typically begins between 40 and 45 days after the domain expiry, sometimes immediately, it’s a last-ditch grace period begins where the domain can still be renewed •It costs a lot more to “Redeem” a domain than to initially renew it •Pending-Delete (5 days) • It’s too late to renew or redeem a domain at this stage •“Drop-catching” services like SnapNames will often grab the name and auction it off to any bidders interested in it
  35. 35. Domain expiration • If your domain name is indeed expiring, you will renew it with your current registrar NOT a new company. vv • Each time you login to renew your domain, check your account contact information to ensure that your email address is current. • Notifications regarding the domain will not be received if the email listed on the domain registration is not current.
  36. 36. Troubleshooting domain problems vv Someone already has the name I want and is selling it for $8000. How do they get away with that?
  37. 37. Domain name “black market” vv • Domain hoarders • Domain hijackers • Transfer-out fees • WHOIS edit fees • Stolen identity
  38. 38. Avoiding domain scams ① Know who your web host is, and who your registrar is (often separate). ② Know when your domain name expires. Look up your domain name info: vv ③ Always keep the administrative email on your domain name current. ④ When you get a notification about your domain name expiring, go to your registrar and login. Do not ignore it and let it expire! Set up auto-renew if that works for you.
  39. 39. vv Final tips Treat your domain name like you would your car title Don’t rely on anyone to keep track of your domain for you… not your web designer, not your children, not your staff! It can be easy to lose/forget your registrar user name and password. WRITE IT DOWN and keep it in a known, secure place.
  40. 40. vv Newsworthy Owner says no to $310K bid for domain: to-k-bid-for-montana-com-domain/ article_da0b1737-0a9b-522b-8bf8- f9fc0b6acae9.html Amazon Scoops Up the '.Buy' Domain for $4.6 Million:
  41. 41. THANK YOU! vv Christy: Emily: