A domain name is a company's unique identifier on the Internet. The same domain name can be used with a company's Web address and their email addresses. Internet computers really only know how to transmit information with Internet protocol "IP" numbers - but domain name service (DNS) that Internet providers offer invisibly turns easy to remember names into those IP numbers for transmission and then reverses the process.
The format for a professional Web address is usually "www.company.com" while an email address is generally [email protected]. A Web address does not have to begin with "www" but it has become standard over time and is easy to remember.
In this digital age it is not a good idea to use another companies domain name in your Internet dealings. For example, the email addresses [email protected] or [email protected] do not properly identify your business and using those domains implies your company might not be Net savvy. Similarly, it looks unprofessional to have your Web address take the following form: http://www.myisp.com/mycompany/.
"Top level" domains include:
.net- historically for network service providers - currently available to all
.org- historically for nonprofit entities - currently available to all
.gov- for government institutions
.mil- for military institutions
.edu- for educational institutions
The portion of a domain name that is to the left of the dot is called the second level name. The word "company" in company.com is the second level domain.
There is also generally a third element called a sub-domain as part of a Web address. "www" is the sub-domain in the address http://www.company.com/. The same company or domain name can have many sub-domains associated with it - all pointing to different resources. For example, a company might have different Web sites at the addresses: http://www.company.com/, http://sales.company.com/, and http://billing.company.com/.
Today .com and .net names have considerable resale value since they are business investments that can identify your company on the Internet practically forever. And most companies over time will conduct a considerable portion of their business over the Net, if not all of it. The most important aspect of generating new business and conducting business on the Internet is a domain name that is easy to remember for your customers and prospective customers. Also, an important consideration is to have relevant "key words" as part of your domain name that will enable customers to find your site easily through Web based search engines.
Many companies feel that they are stuck with a marginal name that they have been using for some time. However, you should realize that you can easily have multiple URL addresses (which include your domain name) point to the very same Web site. This will allow you to keep your legacy domain name and to have multiple new ebusiness names to conduct commerce with and list in the search engines.
You may have heard about the proposal to create new top level names like .web, .store and .firm. This idea has been around for a long time and may come to fruition one day down the road. However, there are already many other top level domains around the world that consist of country codes instead of .com or .net - like .uk, .au, .to, .cc, .ca, etc. Despite the existence of alternative top level names the majority of the business world is buying names and branding companies with .com and .net extensions and abandoning other possibilities. This makes sense because presently the highest trafficked sites and the easiest sites to remember all use .com and .net. Another relevant point is that the Netscape Navigator and Microsoft IE Web browsers do automatic lookups of .com addresses but no others.
We expect that names with .com and .net will store their value practically forever and only lower profile companies and sites will experiment with alternative top level domains.
In our estimation, investing a few thousand dollars to permanently control prominent sounding Internet brand names is a deal that you would be foolish to wait on. Procrastinating risks that your competitors beat you to the names that you like or that their prices continue to rise.
Best of luck in the new digital economy - there is no turning back!