What’s a domain name? I. Your site’s address

01.22.2018 - written by  in Domain names

We’re far from the days when, if you wanted to get in touch with someone, you’d crack open a phonebook. Today we have ways to find and be found (or not) unheard of in the so-called good old days: search engines, social media, forums, and online publishing platforms. But the basic problem of how to find or be found relies on the same basic solution, really — having an address.

Online, you can put anything at your address – a social media profile, a resume, a portfolio of work, etc. — but just like how in the real world your address is likely to have a building, online your domain name is likely to have a website. In fact, there’s sometimes some confusion between the two. Modern browsers have inadvertantly added to the confusion by converting the address bar into a search bar too.

Now you can type anything into the address bar at the top, it doesn’t have to be a domain name, and you’ll still find what you’re looking for. While that makes it easier to find things, it doesn’t necessarily make it easier to be found.

When you build a space online, you have a few options for how to be found. Let’s take a look.

Option 1 – Use the URL your hosting provider gives you

You could rely on building good SEO for your site and be findable through search engines, like the one embedded in your browser, by using the URL of your site at your hosting provider – for example http://your-hosting.com/example/ — but it can take time to get to the top of the results. And if you need something that can be found tomorrow – for a product launch or a big interview — that doesn’t cut it.

Option 2 – Just use social media

Rather than giving people a domain name where they can find you, they could just search for you in social media. If you use social media exclusively, you can quickly and easily grow an audience without paying a developer, a website host, or a domain name registrar. And it’s free to join. But it’s like people knowing they can usually find you at a local coffee shop – if it’s unexpectedly closed or otherwise isn’t available, nobody can find you. And unlike a coffee shop, social media sites manage arcane algorithms that keep your reach from organically growing beyond a certain point without paying.

Option 3 – Get a domain name

The truth is, just like in the off-line world the easiest way to find somebody is at their address and the best way to reach them is at their phone number. A domain name is like an address or a phone number and of all the options, it’s the easiest way to find or be found online. A domain name is your address online, your online home.

And remember:

What you put online is like a building. And the domain name is the address.

Of course, technically, there’s more to it than that. Stay tuned, we’ll be getting into the details later. But first, find out how a domain name can be more than just an address, next time …