The Yellow Pages Directory Inc. Domain Assets

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What is a Domain Name?

What is a Domain Name, and What Does it Do?

The domain name- it’s something that most people encounter many times on a daily basis when surfing the internet – indeed, it might seem like you couldn’t get anywhere without them – but many of those people don't know what you’re referring to if you asked them about a domain name.

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A domain name is a web address that points to an IP address and helps users to access websites or other resources. Domain names are used to identify one or more IP addresses, and are used in web URLs to identify particular Web pages. For example, in the URL, the domain name is

To put in the basest terms, if your website was a phone, the domain name would be your phone number, and like a phone number, a domain name is unique to a website and cannot be shared. A domain name is not permanently associated with any specific website; it can be disconnected and transferred to another, but this can only be done for one single website at a time.

The first commercial Internet domain name – – was registered on March 15, 1985 by Symbolics Inc., a computer systems firm in Cambridge, Massachusetts. By 2019, 1.94 billion domain names had been registered.

So how, exactly, does a domain name work? Well, when you type a domain name into your web browser – say, – the browser will send a request to the Domain Name System (DNS), which is a global network of servers that will look up the servers of your requested domain and forward your request to them. Once it receives the request, the server of the website you are attempting to access will fetch the web page and send it back to be displayed in your browser. And *poof* you’re there, you have arrived at the web site you were looking for.

Domain names have extensions at the end of the URL; for example ".com", ".net" and ".org" are the most commonly used domain name extensions, and are known as “Top Level Domains” because they are listed at the highest level in the domain name system. There are also country-specific domain name extensions; for instance, the United Kingdom has the ".uk" domain extension and Japan has ".jp". The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) manages Internet domain name space, and authorizes domain name registrars, through which domain names may be registered and reassigned.

The Internet is a giant global network of connected computers that can communicate with another; in order to identify them, each computer is assigned an Internet Protocol (IP) address that is comprised of a series of numbers- for example, “” Domain names instead serve to identify resources on the internet – such as computers, networks, and services – with a text-based label. The benefit of doing this is that it is far easier than having to utilize the numerical addresses used in IP addresses, which obviously can be far more difficult for people to memorize. Domain names were created to solve this problem and make navigating the internet much easier.

Some website builders, such as, offer free domain names, although typically these tend to be what are known as “sub-domains.” In other words, your domain would essentially piggybacks off of theirs- for example, “” While this is a cost-effective and convenient way to start out with a general website, the drawback of using a free sub-domain name is the lack of unique branding, which can be a roadblock if you’re attempting to establish your own online business venture.

If you’re interested in purchasing your own unique domain name, there are a number of domain name registrars who can be of service to you; Register Your Domains and Go Daddy are two examples. When dealing with these companies, you will pay an annual fee to register/buy the domain name; if you do not renew each year, the domain name is lost and can be acquired by another party. The average cost of a domain is usually under $10-$15 a year. However, popular domains – like any hot commodity – can be far more costly upfront, sometimes climbing into hundreds of dollars or more. However, after the initial payment, the yearly renewal fee should be within the aforementioned range of $10-$15 going forward (for the top level extentions mentioned above, .org, .com, .net).

Often, the most successful domain names – especially for business purposes – are simple, direct, and tie in to your field, such as “” if you’re a florist. However, due to the large number of registered domain names, it can be extreamely difficult to come up with new and unique ones that have not yet been registered if you’re looking to get a new website up and running. When coming up with your own domain name, just remember to make sure it as short and easy to spell and/or remember as possible, and on average, it is best to stick with the a “.com” domain name, as it is most popular and easy to promote.


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