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what is a web domain and what are its types

What is a domain on the Internet?

This is the definition that would summarize the concept of “domain” in a few words, but I want to explain in much more detail  what a web domain is  and what it is for . You will see that the thing has crumb, but you can be calm because I am going to show it to you in a very clear and simple way, you will see it. 🙂

Go for it!

🔷 What is domain? What does it mean?

See if we start with the basics I’m going to explain the meaning of the word “domain”:What is the meaning of domain?

According to the RAE , the last meaning for the word domain says textually that it is the “name that identifies a site in the network and that indicates its belonging to a certain category” .

Domain definition according to the RAE

In short, and as I told you at the beginning of this article, is the exclusive name given to a website  for anyone to visit on the Internet. For example, the domain of this blog that you are reading right now is miposicionamientoweb.es. 🙂

So simple here, right?

What happens is that behind all this there is more chicha than it seems. It may seem a little messy at first, but I want you to understand it well because besides being curious you will be very useful .

🔷 What is a domain exactly?

Ok, you know that when you talk about an  Internet domain  (also called “virtual domain”) we refer to the name given to a website to put it in the browser and be able to visit it.

But why is it done like this? Is it that the web pages are saved in the hostingdirectly with this domain name?

Well, no.

Web browsers actually access the sites on the Internet (which are so richly stored in their hosting) through an IP address  ( Internet Protocol ), a very long number of type 104.28.13.62  that helps to know which server is find.

This logically has 3 very clear main advantages:

  1. The domain of a site is much easier to remember than its IP (imagine calling your friends by their postal addresses instead of by name).
  2. It allows having many more sites on the Internet , because today many web domains can share for example the same IP of the web server where they are hosted (then internally the server knows which domain is being accessed).
  3. It is much more flexible  for example when changing your site from one web hosting to another, because the IP can change but the domain will remain the same (imagine telling everyone that you have changed IP).

How does it work?

Well, very simple.

You know the domain of the site you want to visit and you only need a system that is responsible for “translating” that domain into an IP that your web browser can understand. And that is precisely what the DNS or Domain Name System ( DNS ) does.

So the DNS server  , as my friend Juan Carlos would say in this master class on the Internet , would be the “phone book” used by web browsers to find out where the site you are looking is by its domain name.

Domain Name System - DNS

In truth the system is more complex, but I have simplified it so that it is understood better. 🙂

In short, the domain is really an “envelope” that helps us navigate the Internet in a much more comfortable and “humanized” .

Structure and subdomains

To better understand the structure of a domain I leave a graph that I have done to simplify it and in which my domain is shown in a hierarchical tree with the 4 main parts you can have (could have even more):

Domain structure and subdomains

1) The “head” of the tree is what is called the root domain . In practice it is just an empty name from which the rest of Internet domains come out.

2) The “child” that leaves the root domain is the first level domain  or  top level domain  or TLD ( Top Level Domain ); what we might call the termination or “extension” of the domain.

In my case it is the TLD is (geolocated domain of Spain).

3) Next would be the second level domain or SLD ( Second Level Domain ); what we could call the name of the domain.

In my case it is web mipositioning .

4) And the next would be the third level domain or subdomain ; what we might call a “sub-level” of the domain name.

In my case it’s www , which is a subdomain.

👁 Eye:  in many sites you will see that they call third level domains to the double terminations of domains of type .com.es , .edu.es , etc. They are called like that because in truth the domain name that you chose would be directly the third level of the domain and not the second as you have just seen.

For example, in tudominio.com.es , it is would be the first level, com would be the second level and yourdomain would be the third level.

Subdomains are often used to manage different “areas” of the same domain, and you can create them yourself. For example:

  • www It is usually used to go to the domain’s website.
  • ftp. It is usually used to upload or download files from your website.
  • mail it is usually used to manage the email of that domain.
  • webmail it is usually used to manage the mail of that domain via the web.
  • cpanel It is usually used to go to the hosting control panel.
  • Blog. It is usually used to go to the blog of the website.
  • etc.

But these subdomains are optional.

Notice that I do not use the subdomain blog  nor the  www , if you go to you will see that it automatically redirects you to miposicionamientoweb.es. That’s because in my case the “main area” of my domain is directly my website, which is a blog. 🙂

🔷 Types of domains

When we talk about the types of domains we really refer to the 2 main types  that exist in the domains of the higher level  or TLD, what I have previously called the domain “extension” (.com, .es, .org …):

🔸 Geographic top-level domains or ccTLDs

The ccTLD ( country code Top Level Domain ) domains , also called geolocalized or territorial, are reserved for the different countries or territories of the world and use the 2-letter country code as extension of the domain.

This is where the .es (Spain), .mx (Mexico), .ve ​​(Venezuela), .ar (Argentina) .co (Colombia), etc. would be.

🔸 Generic top-level domains or gTLDs

The gTLD ( generic Top Level Domain ) domains were initially assigned according to the purpose for which they were reserved (for example .com was commercial, .org was for organizations, etc.) but currently most can be used for whatever you want without restrictions.

These domains use  at least 3 letters in their extension and here the .com, .org, .net, .gov, .edu, .info, .biz, etc. will be included.

Within the generic domains you can also find the so-called top-level domains sponsored or sTLD ( sponsored Top Level Domain ). These domains are managed by independent agencies or foundations that restrict their use, such as .gov only for the US government or the .edu only for educational purposes.

🔷 Life cycle

Yes, the domains have a life cycle and some states that are happening depending on whether it has been registered, if it has expired, etc. And believe me it is important that you know them well to avoid “confusions”:

Available:  here the domain “is free” and you can register it to be yours.

Registered:  once you register it for yourself (minimum for 1 year and maximum for 10 years), and nobody else can register it.

Active:  soon after registering the domain becomes active and you can use it during the years you have registered (from 1 to 10 years). You can always renew the domain for more years to prevent it from expiring.

Period of Grace ( renew grade period ):  if it has not been renewed while it was active, in this period of time the domain stops working although it can be renewed by the usual renewal price (not all types of domains have this grace period ).

Period of Punishment ( redemption grace period ): if it has not yet been renewed, in this period of time the domain still does not work although it can be renewed for a much higher price than the usual renewal price (not all types of domains have this period as punishment).

Elimination period ( pending delete ):  if this period of time arrives, the domain can no longer be renewed and simply waits to be released to be available again (not all types of domains have this elimination period).

Of course, the life cycle of a domain depends on the type of domain it is, for example:

Life cycle of gTLD domains

Life cycle of a gTLD domain such as .com, .net, .org, .info, etc.

Domain life cycle ccTLD .es

Domain life cycle ccTLD .es (Spain)

I told you about the importance of knowing the life cycle of a domain, because sometimes you can find companies or agents that try to “take advantage” of your fear of losing a domain when it has expired and not renewed by mistake.

And that, dear friend, is very ugly …

Mmm

Look what a coincidence that while writing this post I was telling Gastre a problem I was having with 1and1 to renew a .com domain :

  1. The domain expired, so it happened to be automatically in the grace period. A few hours later they sent him an email informing him that they were changing the ownership of their domain and they put themselves in the headlines , apparently to prevent “others” from taking it away … He answered them to see what they had to do, but they did not answer.
  2. Before the 30-day grace period ended she called to confirm that she wanted to renew it, but was told that the domain was now “premium” and that she had to pay more than € 1,000 to activate it again. 😦
  3. After a few hours and after learning more about the subject, call them back to remind them that the domain is still within 30 days of the grace period and that you have the right to renew it for its normal price.  And “surprisingly” they agree and they process the registration. How do you stay?

That is why I say that the better informed you are about a topic, the better you can choose what is right for you and it will be more difficult for you to be deceived.

By the way, if you want to know the life cycle of other domains or “extensions”, here is  this CDmon article where you can find more graphics and a much more complete table.

🔷 Registration

Ok, you know what a domain is, what types there are and their life cycle.

Now I will explain in a simple way everything related to the registration of web domains  so you can choose better when hiring a domain.The more you know about web domains, the better you will choose the one that suits youCLICK TO TWEET

🔸 What body regulates domain names?

Mainly, there are 2 organizations that share the tasks of managing all the Internet domains, IP addresses, DNS servers, Internet protocols, etc:

And these are the ones that decide which companies or bodies can be ” accredited registrars ” to register domains.

In the case of ccTLD domains for countries, IANA / ICANN delegates its management to non-profit organizations in each country or territory  and it is they who decide who can be “registrar agents” of these domains.

In Spain, for example, the one in charge of managing their domains and accrediting the registrars is  dominio.es , integrated in the public entity Red.es  and that depends on the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism of Spain.

🔸 How to know if a domain is free?

Well, it’s very simple.

To look for free domains the most normal thing is that in the website of almost any registrar  or hosting provider you find a search engine, there you can search for the domain you want and tell you if it is free or not.

For example, from the domain agent of the registrar agent «dondominio.com» you can see if the same domain name is free or not for different extensions (.com, .es, .net, etc.):

Domain search engine

And for example from dominio.es you also have a search engine to see the .es domains that are free:

Domain Finder .es

As you can see, the good thing about these search engines is that they help you to check free domains in different extensions with a single search . 🙂

🔸 How to know who is a domain?

Well for that is the WHOIS , a kind of public and free directory with technical information of the registered domains and contact information of the owners of those domains (name, email, etc.).

There are a lot of pages like this that allow you to search a domain in the Whois.

If you look at the images in the previous section you will see that in addition to showing the available domains, in the «Not available» a “Whois” button appeared in the search engine of dondominio.com and a “View data” link in the search engine. dominio.es:

Of miposicionamientoweb.es in dondominio

WHOIS of miposicionamientoweb.es in dondominio.com

Miposicionamientoweb.es WHOIS in domains.es

Miposicionamientoweb.es WHOIS in domains.es👁️ Eye

Think that this public information can be used by many people with intentions of “dubious legality”, to send spam to your mail, etc. That’s why you’ll see that in many cases the WHOIS does not show all the contact information, to maintain the privacy of its owner.

That’s because many hosting / domain providers offer a private Whois service , so the provider’s generic data appears instead of the actual owner’s. And even then, not all types of domains allow “hide” all the data of the owner, such as .es.

Personally, and despite the possible spam that comes to me, I am one of those who think that if you have nothing to hide as the owner of your domain, I prefer to make it clear to users and Google that the domain is mine. 🙂

How to know when a domain expires?

Very simple, with the same WHOIS tool that I have shown you in the previous section.

If you look at the images where the Whois information of my domain is shown, you will see a section where it says «Expiry date» or «Expiration date» and there it is shown on which day it would expire.Keep in mind that this date is NOT the date in which the domain is free to register.

Remember that the domain has a life cycle , and for example in .com domains are not available again until the 65 days of the grace, punishment and elimination periods that are counted from the expiration date .

In the case of my domain that is a .es, it would not be available again until a grace period of 10 days passes from the expiration date.

And you will tell me, Rubén, what else does it give me when a domain expires?

Well I explain this because many look for expired domains to take advantage of the authority or web positioning that these domains already have , instead of “starting from scratch” with a completely new domain.

In fact, there is a lot of business in this world: buying domains, selling domains, auctions, assignments, reservations …

There are domains that can be worth millions!

Domain auction in GoDaddy

Domain auction in GoDaddy

But better take a look at this piece of article by Josemi Medina where he explains how to do it correctly to search for available domains, find expired qualitydomains , how to reserve them before they are free and how to redirect them to your new domain to take advantage of their authority . 👌

🔸 Where and how to register a domain?

Nowadays you can hire or register a domain directly from the website of  almost any hosting provider or domain registrar agent .

My advice is to choose the provider where you are going to make the reservation of domain depending on what you need and not just because you have cheap domains:

  • If you only need the domain , without hosting or web space to host your site, you can register it with a trusted provider that at least allows you to manage the DNS (so that you can define to which IP you want to redirect that domain), as for example in  www.dondominio.com .
  • If you also need hosting , many hosting providers give you free domain during the first year when you hire web hosting for 1 year minimum, such as Webempresa or Raiola Networks , which are the ones I talk about in this  hosting comparative , because the I have tested and analyzed personally.

Once you have chosen the registrar, you will see that the process to buy a domain is very simple because it guides you step by step :

  1. Check if the domain is free.
  2. Choose the years you want to register (usually make a higher discount the more years you hire).
  3. Put your data as owner of the domain.
  4. Make the payment.
  5. Wait a few hours for the DNS propagation  so that any web browser can “translate” the domain to its corresponding IP.

And you will have your active domain. 🙂

🔸 Can a domain be transferred?

Of course yes.

Imagine that you have your domain registered through a provider or registrar that is giving you many problems or bad customer service, such as, what do I know, so random  1and1 …

Do you have to put up with it and maintain your dominance with them?

Well NO .If you are the owner, you can transfer a domain wherever you want, which is what is yours for .

The process is usually somewhat simple, although it also depends on the type of domain it is. For example, in .com domains , these are the steps to follow to transfer a domain from one provider / agent A to another provider / agent B :

  1. Check that the contact information (the email) as the owner of the domain you have registered with A is fine, because there you will receive all the information about the transfer of the domain.
  2. Check that in A you do not have your domain as “blocked” to be transferred.
  3. If you have a private WHOIS service in A , you will probably need to cancel it before making the domain transfer.
  4. You will need  A to give you the authorization code, also called Auth-Code , Auth-Info, EPP code or transfer code. It is the code that verifies that you are the owner of the domain, who wants to transfer it.
  5. Tell  B you want to transfer your domain and give him the authorization code so he can do it.
  6. An email will arrive to the email account of the owner of the domain informing of the transfer request, and you will have to click where you indicate to accept it.
  7. Depending on the type of domain it may take a few days until the transfer is completed, but it is normal for B to notify you when it has been completed.

The ccTLDs are usually more “special”.

In the case of .es domains  for example you do not need any authorization code; it is enough that you have access to the domain owner’s email, because there you will receive a red.es email to accept or cancel the transfer once you have requested it from the new provider / registrar agent.

What domain and extension to choose?

These are “the big questions” when looking for a domain, right?

Well I’m going to give you a series of tips that in my opinion are key when choosing a domain and its extension , and you’ll see that many of these tips are based on something very important: common sense .  The purpose of your site

First of all you have to be very clear about the purpose of your site , because once you have it clear you can choose the domain that best suits you. And for that you should ask yourself some things:

  • Are you going to focus on a user / reader / client at the local, regional, national or international level?
  • Do you want to sell products or services online, is it a thematic blog, is it a site on a very specific niche?
  • Do you prefer to give more visibility to your brand or the product / service you offer?
  • Etc.

It is not the same that your site serves mainly, for example, to sell melons in Guadalajara  (melonesguadalajara.es) that to reinforce your brand as farmer / distributor of melons nationally and internationally (meloneselabuelo.com).

That’s why it’s important that you know what your objective is , to know if you really care about one domain or another.👤 Make it easy for the user

Keep in mind that a domain will be part of your brand or at least the way you want to look and find on the Internet, so the logical thing is to make it easy for you to remember it always, do not you think?

  • If your domain is not going to be your name or your brand name, try to make it as short as possible.
  • Avoid having numbers, symbols or strange characters that are not necessary, such as accents, ñ, etc.
  • Also avoid double vowels or double consonants, abbreviations, acronyms, capitals, hyphens and in general everything that can generate confusion.
  • If you are looking for a gTLD domain, look for the .com first because it is the best known.
  • It’s easier to remember if your domain contains a “keyword” that defines what your site is about.
  • Do not use registered trademark domains; even if the domain is available, they can take it from you.
  • Etc.

For example, melguada.es is not the same as melonesguadalajara.es. Which one would you remember best when you want melons? Although the second one is longer, it is easier to remember because it contains the keyword “melons” and also the city where it sells them.

And it is not the same fontanero24horas.com that fontaneroveinticuatrohoras.com. Which do you think is easier and will be searched more in Google? Although the first uses numbers, they help make the domain shorter and easier to remember .

In short, it is about following these recommendations that I make but with common sense. Find a domain that is easy to read, remember and write .  Considering SEO

A few years ago it was very fashionable to look for the famous EMD ( Exact Match Domain ) or “Domain of exact match”, that is, domains that fit precisely the keyword you would like to position yourself in Google results.

  • For example, if you want to offer your services as a labor lawyer, a great EMD would be abogadolaboralista.com .

It is true that these domains still have their importance because after all they say what your site is about, which makes things easier for Google and users. But today many SEO professionals have seen that these EMD domains are no longer so relevant to Google when it comes to positioning them, and even less so in a sector or market niche that is very competitive.

In what does seem clear that there is a better SEO positioning is in those ccTLD domains (geographical) when using the Google search engine of that country  in particular. Logical, right? 🙂

  • For example, if you search for «create a blog» from Google.es, you will see that the result of web – hosting is  better positioned than if you are looking for the same thing, but from Google.com .

Ultimately, beyond choosing a domain of a country or international one (which is important), in my view Google detracts increasingly important to the domain name itself and valued more than the content of that domain resolved really the searches of the users.

Reeeeeing, use common sense . 🙂

The important thing is that your domain is focused on the objective of your site and is easy for the user to remember.

Anyway, I’m going to leave you a couple of videos of Romuald Fons where he explains all this in a clear and funny way ; they have no waste:

And I also leave this piece of checklist that Arnaldo Ochoa has done for you to review when choosing the domain name for your blog. 👌