Create a Website FAQ - Domain Names

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What is a domain name?
A domain name is the thing that looks like It represents the permanent URL (or "web address") of your website. The purpose of a domain name is to make it easier for your users to remember how to get to your website. All your users need to do is type your domain name into their browser and your website appears.

Technically speaking, they could also get to your website using an IP address (if your website has its own unique IP address). This means they would need to type in something like this: In practice, very few websites (if any) have an IP address as the sole method of access. IP addresses are too hard for people to remember - a domain name is much easier to remember!

For more information on domain names, see the domain names section of this website.

Do I need a domain name?
Although it is possible to have a website without its own domain name, I wouldn't recommend it. Apart from making your site appear "amateurish", there are disadvantages to not having your own domain name.

One key benefit of having a domain name is that it will ensure that your website address doesn't change unexpectedly in the future. Even if you change hosting providers, your domain name will remain the same. A domain name can also help your listings in search engines and directories. For the small cost of registering your own domain name, the benefits are well worth it.

If you can't afford a domain name, then you would need to either, host your website in a sub-folder of another website (eg, or tell people to access it using its IP address (eg, Not all hosting plans will allow you to do this. The best (and easiest) way to go is to simply register a domain name.

What should I expect to pay for a domain name?
Domain names can range from around $10 up to $35 per domain.

Remember, it's just a domain name - so don't pay more than you have to. You're not getting a "better" product by paying more for it. The domain name that you pay $15 for at store "x" is exactly the same domain name you'd get had you paid $35 from store "y" instead.

Should I choose only a .com domain name or other (eg, .org, .net, .info etc)?
It's up to you. You can register as many top level domains as you like. This is what many companies do. It helps protect their brand, because it prevents other individuals or companies from registering the other top level domains.
How do I check that my preferred domain name is available?
You simply use the "Check Availability" feature of your favorite web host/domain name registrar.

For example, go to ZappyHost and type your preferred domain name. If your preferred domain name is available, you can register it immediately. If it's not available, you will see a list of suggested alternatives. You might also try another top level domain (eg, instead of ".com" try ".net").

What if someone else has registered my preferred domain name?
If someone else has already registered your preferred domain name, you generally have two options: offer to buy it from them, or find another one. You could also wait until it expires, but this will only work if the current registrant doesn't renew the domain.

Although it's true that many great domain names are taken, with a little creativity, you might be surprised at how easy it is to come up with alternatives.

Do I need a website before I register a domain name?
No. You can register as many domain names as you like without having a single website. Once you've registered your domain name, it will usually point to a placeholder page hosted with your web host or domain name registrar. It can stay that way for as long as you like.

Once you've created your website, you can change your domain name's settings so that it points to your new website. This is quite a straightforward process and can usually be done within minutes.

How do I point my domain name to my website?
You need to update your domain name's "DNS records" to point to the IP address of your new website.

Your hosting provider will provide you with your website's IP address when you first establish your account with them. Your domain name register will provide you with a control panel to update the DNS records. If you register your domain name through your hosting provider, this will probably be the same control panel that you use to administer your website.

Updating the DNS records is easier than it sounds. However, if you're not sure what to do, your hosting provider or domain name registrar will be able to assist.

What if I change hosting providers later on?
Not a problem. This is one of the best things about having a domain name. You can change hosting providers as often as you like and your website can still use the same domain name.

If you change hosting providers, you simply update your DNS records to point to the new IP address of your website.

What is a "Top Level Domain"?
A Top Level Domain (TLD), also referred to as Top Level Domain Name (TLDN), is the last part of the domain name. For example, if you register, the .com is the Top Level Domain. Similarly, if you register, then .net is the Top Level Domain.

Here's a list of top-level domains.

Can I Register a Domain Name in a Foreign Language?
Yes! Domain names in a foreign language (meaning non-English) are called Internationlized Domain Names (IDN).

To register a domain name in a foreign language, go to the Internationalized Domain Name Search.

For more information on registering a domain in a foreign language, see this article on Internationalized Domain Names.

What is an "Internationalized Domain Name"?
An Internationalized Domain Name (IDN) is a domain name that uses non-ASCII characters. These are typically used for non-English websites, as the domain name can be expressed in its native language.

To register a domain name in a foreign language, go to the Internationalized Domain Name Search.

For an example of an IDN, see Internationalized Domain Names. This article also shows you how to register an Internationalized Domain Name.