ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

What is a Domain?

Updated on January 24, 2013

what is a domain?

What is a Domain?

Many people new to the Internet will commonly ask "What is a domain?".  This hub attempts to provide the answer to the questions "What is a domain?" and other closely related matters.

A domain name is the internet equivalent of a property title. It is your website address on the internet superhighway. The same way that you have a physical address which identifies your physical location where you can be found or where you can receive your postal mail; a domain name represents the location of your website on the internet.

Computers connected to the internet are identified using a unique number known as an IP address. Each identifier is unique in that it distinguishes it from other computers connected to the internet. This number is composed of 4 sets of numbers separated by a dot such as,

The exact IP addressing architecture is not the subject of this article. The point you need to understand to know "what is a domain" is why domain names were created and why they are necessary. Imagine trying to remember an IP address like the one above every time you needed to visit a website, it is a pretty daunting task even for someone with photographic memory. It can be compared to everyone using their social security numbers, passport numbers or similar complex numbers as their names. Imagine having to refer to a friend of yours as “SSN 987-65-4329” instead of just “John”. In the same manner it is easier to type “” in the browser address bar than to type the IP address number. Thus, “” is an example of a domain name. As you can see, domain names make life a lot easier.

Domain names are also unique in the sense that nobody else can own a domain you have registered. Once you register it, it becomes your property and no one else can register a similar name.

Domain names have at least two sections. In our example, “example” represents our preferred brand name while “.com” (pronounced dot com) represents the domain extension.

The Domain Name System is administered by the Internet Corporation for Assigned names and Numbers (ICANN). ICANN is a non profit institution that ensures that domain names are unique and that internet users can find all valid addresses. ICANN also accredits domain name registrars. Registrars are the companies that actually register a domain for you for a minimum of one year. We shall be discussing registrars later in this section. ICANN requires every accredited registrar to maintain a publicly accessible “WHOIS database displaying all contact information for all domain names registered.

Domain Structure and Extensions

The next bit in understanding "what is a domain" is that there are two main kinds of domains, Top Level Domains (TLDs) and Second Level (SLD) / Lower Level domains.

Top Level domains are further categorized into two kinds;

Country Code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs)

These domains are based primarily on the two territory character codes of ISO-3166. The ISO – 3166 are country and territory codes established by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Thus, an example of a ccTLD is “” where “.us” is the country code for the USA.

Generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs)

In addition to the ccTLDs there are a number (originally seven) gTLDs whose extensions represent a set of name categories and organizational structure. The following are the current Generic Top Level Domain extensions:

· .com – this extension is the abbreviation of “commerce” and is currently available to everyone. It is the most common domain and the most easily recognizable.

· .net – this is the abbreviation of “network” and this domain extension is currently available for everyone. It is often used for internet infrastructure or related services.

· .org – this is the abbreviation for “organization” and is currently available for registration by all. It is mainly used by non profit organizations and entities. The best example would be “”, the online encyclopedia. It can also be used by businesses to showcase their charitable activities.

· .biz – this is the abbreviation of “business” and is also currently available for registration by every one. It is not a very popular domain extension but is excellent for ecommerce sites.

· .info – this is a fairly new extension and is an abbreviation for “information”. It is meant to be used by websites that are rich sources of information and is currently available to all.

· .mobi – this is also a fairly new domain extension having been created as a result of the mobile telephony and mobile applications revolution. It is the abbreviation for “mobile” and is mainly for use by sites that will mainly be viewed using mobile browsers.

· .edu – this is the abbreviation of “education”. This domain extension is reserved for educational institutions. You must be an educational institution to register a “.edu” extension.

· .gov – this is the abbreviation for “government” and is reserved for government institutions. An example would be

· .me – this is also a fairly recent extension. It was developed as consequence of the popularity of blogs and blogging. It is useful where the domain is all about you. It is perfect for blogs, resumes or personal pages. It is a fun product for products aimed at younger audiences.

In addition to the ccTLDs and gTLds, there are also other popular domain name extensions that do not quite fall into either of the main categories. The best example of this is the “.ws”. This extension is the country code for the island nation of Western Samoa, hence “WS”. However, the government of Western Samoa went into a partnership with an American Firm to develop the domain into an alternative to the .com. as a result, the “.ws” domain is now widely recognized and used to denote “website”. It is also available for registration by anyone just like most of the main gTLDs. Hopefully this information has helped you answer your "what is a domain?" question.


Submit a Comment

No comments yet.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)