Domain Names Demystified

Domain Names Demystified

By Philip Ramage

Whether they know it or not, all users of the internet, for whatever purpose, have typed in a domain name when they type in the familiar sequence of letters dots and, sometimes slashes, that internet users type into their browsers to access a particular website. Nowadays domain names are a common sight in off-line advertising, whether the advertising is in newspapers, magazines, on radio, television, or on the sides of buses. They are also known as URLs but for the purposes of this article we will refer to these features as “domain names”.

Domain names are always written in lower case letters, starting with ‘www’, although some links to an internet site page appearing on the same site, another site, at the end of an article, or within a blog, may require ‘http://’ in front of the ‘www’. The main part of the domain name is always written with no spaces, although dashes (-) or underscores (_) are sometimes used to separate words. Every home page domain then ends with, usually, a 3 letter suffix, as explained more fully in the next paragraph. The 3 main parts of every name are separated by periods (.), which are always referred to as ‘dots’.

Every internet site has a page that ends simply with a dot (.) followed by, usually, a 3 letter combination of letters. By far the most popular combination is ‘.com’, but ‘.net’, ‘.org’, ‘.edu’, ‘.biz’, ‘.gov’, and ‘.info’ are also fairly common, depending on the type of enterprise the site belongs to. ‘.net’ and ‘.info’ are frequently used when the owner of an enterprise is very keen on a particular main name for his web-site, but the ‘.com’ version has already been taken by somebody else. Obviously, although the internet now consists of billions of sites, all domain names must be unique. There are also new suffixes that are occasionally added. ‘.xxx’ is a fairly recent example of this in an effort to more easily distinguish sites of a pornographic nature.

Every internet site has a page name ending simply in ‘.com’, or ‘.net’ etc. This page is known as the home page. However, if the site has multiple pages, then each page must have its own unique name as well. This is achieved by adding a forward-slash (/) after the ‘.com’ (or ‘.net’ etc) and adding a page name. Again, like the main part of the domain, the page name must be written with no spaces, although dashes (-) or underscores (_) are sometimes used to separate words. Either in links or when typing an address directly into a browser, the home page can be bypassed by adding the forward-slash and the page name, if it is known. Normally though, a user will not know the name of a particular page so he or she will have to navigate, using the menu structure of the site to a particular page. However page names are often added to links, where the web-site designer wants the user to be directed straight to a particular page. Occasionally the whole name is ended with ‘.html’, but except, in some links, this is not usually necessary. ‘HTML’ is the name of the coding language that is used to produce the vast majority of web pages.

Phil Ramage is a semi-retired self-employed accountant, spreadsheet guru & Internet marketer, living in Thailand with his wife of 30 years & an adopted beautiful little girl.

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(C) 2011 Philip Ramage All rights reserved

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Domain Names Demystified

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