What is a Domain Name
Your domain name is your online address. Similar to a physical address, it is how people find your website. As an example, my domain name is elbemarketing.com. A domain name is made up of only two parts, a Top-Level Domain (TLD) such as “.com” and Second-Level Domain (SLD) such as “YourCompanyName”. That’s it.
What is a Top-Level Domain (TLD)
Sometimes called an “extension”, TLD examples could be .com, .de or .sale. In my case, “elbemarketing.com”. There are countless TLDs in existence with more becoming available all the time. Most serve to identify you by country, industry, or the type of information available on your website. Some TLDs have requirements but most don’t. Pick the one which is best for you. The TLD, .com, still appears to be the preeminent TLD in the United States.
What is a Second-Level Domain (SLD)
This is what most people picture when they think of a domain name. In my case, my SLD is the “elbemarketing” of elbemarketing.com. Your SLD can be anything you want (if it is available). However, I strongly suggest you consider the points at the bottom of this article when it comes to your choice of domain names.
But What About the www?
Great question because “www.” is often a part of a website address. This is a default Third-Level Domain, or “subdomain”. You should be able to type your domain name with or without the www and still reach your website courtesy of your web hosting provider. Functionally, it does not matter whether you use www or not on your domain name. However, there are debatable Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and web analytic considerations if you allow both to coexist without redirecting one to the other. What that means is, when someone types “yourdomain.com”, it could redirect to “www.yourdomain.com”. I highly suggest defaulting to one or the other and not allowing web traffic to reach both.
What is an IP Address?
Bottom line: You don’t need to know about it. An IP address is an unfriendly string of numbers (such as 255.123.4.56), and it is how your website is actually found when someone types in your domain name. Your domain name is translated into your assigned IP address via something called the Domain Name System (DNS).
What is a URL?
A Uniform Resource Locator (URL) is the full path to a file on a computer network. Basically, a specific web page or file on your website. So if you were to type in www.elbemarketing.com/downloads/doesnotexist.pdf, you would be accessing a type of file. This specific file, located in a directory called “downloads”, would load in your browser. URLs reflect how your site is organized and accessed as well as how it is indexed by search engines. There is a great deal of best practice to consider when it comes to organizing your web files and directories (and thus, URLs).