Domain Names 101

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Without a domain name, websites are specified by an IP address.  What is an IP address?  It is an identifier that is used by computers or humans to determine the location of a server or website.  However, for humans, an IP address, (which is expressed in a numerical format), can be difficult to remember.  This is why domain names were invented.  With a domain name, a human can locate a website through more user-friendly words or phrases.  And although numbers can be a part of a domain name, they usually do not make up all of it, like what is seen with an IP address.

In terms of format, domain names have several parts.  The first part is known as the URL, (which stands for Uniform Resource Locator).  The URL tells the browser what the domain name is going to point to.  This will usually be ‘http’, which means the browser can expect to locate a hypertext document.  In layman’s terms this means webpage.  In the rare cases the URL is not ‘http’ it may be ‘ftp’, which means file transfer protocol.  A webmaster would opt to use ftp if they would like visitors to download files from their server.

The second part of the domain name will be “www,” which stands for “World Wide Web.”  This phrase lets computers and humans know the site the domain name is pointing to is indeed from the Internet.  It is followed by the actual domain name, which can be a combination of letters, numbers or phrases.  A good domain name will be short, memorable and most importantly, search-engine friendly.  In fact, good webmasters tend to concentrate more on a domain name’s effectiveness with SEO, (or Search Engine Optimization), than they do its creativity.  To do this they make sure to choose a domain name that has a widely searched keyword. 

The final portion of the domain name has what is known as an extension.  This lets a person know a little bit more about a website’s origins.  For example, take .com, the most common domain name extension.  It stands for ‘commercial’, and was originally intended for organizations in that vein.  However, now the extension is used by virtually anyone looking to create a website.  And this is for good reason, since most web surfers will think about the .com before they would think about .org, .biz or .net.  Yet, don’t think the other extensions can’t become memorable either.  Consider which is a wildly popular website despite its .org extension.

Domain name extensions can also specify things on a geographical level.  An example are country-based extensions such as .fr, (which stands for France), or .jp, (which stands for Japan).  They can also be state-based, such as .ca, (which stands for California).  Both can serve as excellent tools for localized Internet marketing.

To get a domain name, a person can either: 1) get one from their web hosting company, provided they offer that service or 2) get one from a separate domain name company.  Price-wise things will vary with both options, though typically the cost will range from $6.50 to $35. 

Domain Name Redirect Services
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It’s no secret that a short, memorable domain name is what is needed to help visitors to a website.  It also helps if the domain name contains keywords that are likely to rank high in search engines.  So, what does a webmaster do if they are promoting an affiliate program or a website created from a free web hosting service such as Geocities?  The most affordable answer lies in taking advantage of a domain name redirect service.

What is a domain name redirect service?  It is one in which a long, cumbersome URL is ‘masked’ by a more memorable domain name.  Instead of having to type in the longer URL, the website visitor would type in the new domain name.  This domain name would then redirect to the original URL.  The visitor would then see the original URL in their browser.  However, most won’t pay that much attention.

Domain name redirect services can be free or paid.  An example of a free service is Tiny URL.  In order to use this service, all a person has to do is enter in whatever URL they need to have shortened.  Tiny URL would then return a domain name that is much more convenient for website visitors.  This URL would have ‘tiny url’ as part of the domain name followed by a number.  An example is the following:  Granted, it’s not perfect, but it is a lot better than what one would typically get with an affiliate program or a free web hosting service. 

If a person wants a more customized domain name, they will need to use pay for a redirect service.  One of the best is Namestick.  The process for using Namestick is similar to Tiny URL except webmasters must first choose the domain name they want to use for their redirect.  They can choose any domain name they wish, just like if they were getting it through their web host or a domain name company.  Namestick even provides suggestions if a person’s desired domain name is taken.  Once that is done, a person will have to enter in their URL they want redirected.  After about 72 hours, the new domain name will be ready for use.

Can a person get away with not using a domain name redirect service?  It depends on how they do their marketing.  For instance, if a person does a lot of offline marketing, a short, meaningful domain name is essential.  However, if a person uses a lot of hyperlinks, a domain name redirect service may not be as important.  What are hyperlinks?  They are simply words or phrases that are linked to a particular URL.  When the visitor clicks on them, they are taken to the website that is hyperlinked within.  Hyperlinks can easily be created in HTML editors or by use of the anchor tag. 

In conclusion, a person’s life can be made easier if they decide to hide their long URL with a more normal-looking domain name available through a domain name redirect service.  This is if they aren’t marketing through hyperlinks, which do not require an official domain name.

Domain Name Hacks
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Traditional domain names consist of a word or phrase that describes a website followed by an extension.  Extensions can be .com, .net or country-based such as .fr or .jp.  So, if this is the case, how can domain names like or exist?  It’s because a domain name doesn’t have to follow a traditional format.  When it is created in the manner demonstrated above, it is called a domain name hack.  With a domain name hack, a domain name spells out a ‘word’ by using a combination of periods and less popular country-based or state-based extensions.  

Now, if you think a domain name hack is a simply a trick created by spammers and/or webmasters with no life, think again.  Yahoo obtained the rights to both and, despite their unusual-looking format.  There are also popular organizations that are actually known by domain name hacks.  Examples include, (a site that lets a webmaster know the specifics behind a domain name and their associated website), and, (a site that allows consumers to list the numbers of telemarketers).  Even other countries use domain name hacks in their own languages.  Consider Germany’s popular, (which means chocolate in English).  

So, does this mean webmasters should consider using domain name hacks?  The answer is it depends.  It is important to remember that while domainname hacks are witty, many of them can be inconvenient for web surfers.  Some may even wonder if the site is legitimate, since the most common extensions are .com, .net, .org and .biz.   However, since there are domain name hacks that still receive a healthy amount of traffic, it is possible that website visitors might overlook how a domain name hack is titled if the site it is pointing to proves to be worthwhile.  There is also the option of having a second more normal-looking domain name point to a domain name hack.  This gives website visitors two ways of being able to access one’s website.  

How can a person think of a good domain name hack?  First, they need to get a list of all the extensions that are possible with a domain name.  They then need to find a domain name company that sells that sells the extension they are looking for.  Then they will need to think of any word or phrase that includes the letters used in the extension.  But they will need to make sure these letters are at the end of the word, since extensions conclude a domain name.  An exception could be made if a person considers using third-level domains.  In this situation the letters of the extension could be used in the middle of the domain name hack.  

If a webmaster finds they are having trouble thinking of a word or phrase that contains their selected extension, they could use a keyword analyzer to help them.  Overture and Google offer keyword analyzers for free, though webmasters might find more use from paid keyword analyzers.  This is because paid keyword analyzers offer more information about a keyword than free ones.

Domain Name Generators
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The process of registering a domain name can be quite annoying.  Why?  It’s because many times the domain name a webmaster hopes to register has already been taken.  So, they have to ponder again what their domain name should be.  But what do they do if that domain name has been taken as well?  The best solution involves getting it right the first time with a domain name generator.  This is a program or service that suggests domain names that are not likely to have been used by other webmasters.  They can work in three ways including: giving random listings, giving listings based on input or using human suggestions. 

The first type of domain name generator gives random domain name suggestions.  Examples of sites that offer these types of domain name generators include and  The only thing a visitor has to do to see a suggested domain name is click a button or, (in the case of, just visit the site.  Depending on the complexity of the domain name generator, visitors will be able to see if the domain name has previously been registered and/or how valuable they would be if they decided to buy them. 

The second type of domain name generator offers suggestions based on user input. is an example.  What happens is a user enters a keyword that describes the purpose of their website.  The domain name generator will then return domain names that contain this keyword.  A variant of this service could require a user to enter in more than one keyword.  From this input the domain name generator would return a domain name that contains a mixture of these keywords.

The final type of domain name generator offers suggestions from human creativity.  An example of such a service is  With this service, (along with others like it), customers have to pay a fee.  Part of the fee goes to the person responsible for coming up with the domain name.  After the fee is sent, customers must provide information related to their website.  Employees will use this info to choose a domain name.  When the process is complete, the customer will receive a list of several domain names, each of which came from a human mind rather than a computer program, (which is used by the other types of domain name generators featured in this article). 

Are there any downsides to using a domain name generator?  Well, human-based domain name generators usually require a fee, while automated ones might not seem as creative.  Other than that domain name generators are an excellent way for webmasters to determine what their domain name should be.  Even if they don’t use the suggested domain name in its entirety, they can still use these types of services to generate ideas.  From there they can use their own mind to come up with an appropriate domain name.  So, at the very least, domain name generators can serve as a tool for domain name brainstorming.  They definitely should not be overlooked by any webmaster.

Domain Name Arbitration
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After several minutes of pondering and looking at keyword analyzers, you find the perfect domain name for your new website.  You see if it is available through your desired domain name company.  When you find that it is, you get excited because it seems that it is going to be quite profitable for your site.  So, you sign up for it, thinking that it is up for grabs, since your domain name company has said it is available.  Then after a few months you get correspondence from an attorney saying that your new domain name has violated another company’s trademark.  You are now stuck with a potential legal battle that could cause you to lose your domain name, your reputation and maybe even worse.  Fortunately, with domain name arbitration, there’s a chance you can get out of such a situation and avoid any possible legal consequences. 

What is domain name arbitration?  It is a process in which the complainant and the original holder of the domain name try to work out a reasonable agreement as to who actually has the rights to the domain name in question.  The arbitration in itself is done through the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy, (also known as UDRP).  This is a special arbitration method set forth by the ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) organization.  It is used for most domain name disputes, because it is cheaper and less time-consuming than ‘traditional’ litigation.

In order to initiate a domain name arbitration proceeding, a webmaster must go through a provider that has been approved by ICANN to handle such disputes.  Once the arbitration begins, the provider will first determine if the complainant has merit in their claim.  They will do this by evaluating whether the domain name in question is similar to a trademark or domain name set forth by the claimant.  They will then determine what rights the claimant has to the title along with whether or not the domain was chosen accidentally or with the intention of taking advantage of the claimant’s brand popularity.  If it is found the domain name was chosen in bad faith, rights to it will be granted to the claimant.  Otherwise, the original owner will retain possession of the disputed domain name. 

If either party is not satisfied with a domain name arbitration proceeding, they can challenge the findings in a regular courtroom.  An example of this happened with Robert De Niro, when he tried to claim the rights to any domain name containing the phrase ‘Tribeca.’  He is still in court trying to retain the rights to, which has been claimed by another person.

In conclusion, domain name arbitration is a great alternative to avoiding taking a domain name dispute into a courtroom, at least initially.  There is the option to go to court if either side feels an arbitration isn’t fair.  Yet, for most webmasters, the decisions made by the UDRP panel are good enough for them, since getting their consul is a lot cheaper than going to a judge.

Choosing the Right Domain Name

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Domain names are to websites as book covers are to novels.  If they are not interesting enough, or don’t properly convey what a website is about, visitor will have no desire to enter them in their browsers.  Yet, excessive creativity doesn’t make for a good domain name either.  Why is this so?  It’s because if a domain name is creative but not keyword-rich, search engine bots won’t be able to index it in search engine listings.  So, ultimately, your domain name must be both catchy yet search engine optimized.  This article will explain how you can achieve both objectives.

First and foremost you will need to find a popular search engine keyword that can be incorporated into your domain name.  A keyword analyzer can help you in this task.  These can be found pretty easily with a basic search engine query.  When you find one, enter in a keyword that best summarizes the purpose of your website.  The keyword analyzer will return different versions of this keyword.  If the more specific instances can also fit within the nature of your website, choose one.  This is because when it comes to search engine optimization, more specific keywords are better since they are less likely to be used by other webmasters. 

Now you can start selecting your actual domain name.  Most domain name companies will allow you to see whether or not your domain name is available.  If it is not available, it will return a list of recommended domain names.  Take advantage of this tool by first entering your selected keyword.  If your keyword as a domain name is not available, consider the suggestions the domain name company gives.  If the main keyword is still included in these suggestions and it ends with .com, consider it.  Otherwise, you will have to be more creative.

For example, you can use ‘filler’ words, numbers or phrases within your domain name to still include your selected keyword.  Fillers could be ‘a,’ ‘an’ or ‘the.’  Search engines tend to not look at these words, so you still have a good shot at getting indexed while having a domain name that is memorable and catchy.  You can also consider fillers at the end of a phrase, such as ‘101’. 

What if you do these things and you still can’t get .com?  Well, there are some situations where it is better to stick with a lesser-used extension because the keyword is just that popular.  Extensions that still get noticed include .net, .biz and .org.  Additionally, you can also consider using country or state-based extensions if you don’t mind international or local-based marketing.  It’s better to be number 1 in France’s version of Google than to be number 200 or worse in America’s version of Google. 

In conclusion, choosing a domain name that will get the right buzz from both humans and search engines doesn’t have to be hard.  The keyword analyzer will help you with 90% of your domain name, while your wit with fillers can help you the other 10%.  And, if after an immense amount of pondering, you still can’t get the .com, you can opt for other extensions. 

Cheap Domain Names
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In order for people to access a website, they must first enter in its associated domain name.  This is a word or phrase that denotes the name of the site and/or summarizes what it is about.  Even free web hosting companies offer domain names, but there’s an essential difference.  With free web hosting companies, the domain names offered are in the form of third level domain names.  This means their domain name must be included when a person is trying to access the third level domain.  The only problem with this is that it makes a domain name long and hard to remember.  For this reason it’s best if a person considers just buying their own domain name.  And with the availability of cheap domain names, it is possible to get one that is very affordable.

Cheap domain names can range from being completely free to around $6.95.  Usually free domain names that are worth anything are included with a web hosting package.  So, a customer is technically still paying a fee.  The other types of domain names that require a fee can be purchased separately without a web hosting package.  The prices for these start at $1.00 and go up from there.

When a person purchases a cheap domain name, the overall registration process is the same as it would be for regularly-priced domains.  This means that first they would have to see if their domain name is available.  To do this they must enter in their desired domain name in a special text box, then select the extension they want.  If the domain name is available, they are free to purchase it.  If it is not available, they will have to choose another domain name.  Cheap domain name companies will offer suggestions on alternative domain names when this scenario occurs.

Are there any downsides to using cheap domain names?  Unfortunately, yes.  If a cheap domain name company is unscrupulous, a person may never receive a domain name at all.  What happens is the company tells the customer to wait a few days for the domain name to become active.  However, at the end of the timeframe, the domain name still doesn’t work.  And since the company is unscrupulous anyway, emailing customer service won’t do anything.

How can a person ensure they don’t encounter a fraudulent cheap domain name company?  First and foremost they need to check to see if it is registered with the Better Business Bureau.  This is an organization that ensures businesses are operating in a legitimate manner.  Secondly, they need to see if the company has normal contact information, such as an address and a telephone number.  Thirdly, they should see if the company has a bad reputation on message board dedicated to webmasters.  Of course, one may not always get an opinion on a particular company but if they do they will know to stay clear of it.

Yet, if a cheap domain name company is legitimate, there is no other disadvantage to getting a discounted domain name.  They work just like regularly priced domain names, so if a person has one available to them they definitely need to take advantage of it.

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