What is a domain name?
Looking to create a website? Before it goes live, many elements need to be put in place first, including registering a domain name. But what does this involve?
Domain name: definition
A domain name refers to your website address. This is what users type in a browser's search bar to directly access your website. A domain name is unique and cannot be shared between different sites. For example: ovhcloud.com
Domain name definition: going further
Each website is identified by a unique set of numbers, called an IP address. Your computer uses these numbers to connect to the server where the website data is located. When visitors enter a domain name in their search bar, it sends a request to a set of Domain Name System (DNS) servers. The DNS then responds with the IP address of the website’s hosting server, making it accessible. Domain names were created because IP addresses are too complicated to remember. So, for internet users to access a website, it needs to be given a name.
The structure of a domain name
To finish off this definition of a domain name, here is a quick explanation of its structure. Let’s take the domain name of the OVHcloud website as an example: www.ovhcloud.com
- www: this refers to the third-level domain (World Wide Web).
- ovhcloud: refers to the second-level domain; this is the name of the site.
- .com: this is the top-level domain (TLD), also known as a domain name extension.
There are also sub-domains, such as our documentation website docs.ovh.com. The sub-domain here is “docs”.
Find out more in our domain names guide.
How do I find a good domain name?
How much thought do you need to give to a domain name when you want to create a website? In theory, with a good website, users should visit your pages whatever the domain name...but it is a little more complicated than that. If you are part of a business, it is crucial to choose a domain name that is right for your business or brand.
Why is this so important?
The URL of your site is the first thing your visitors will see. Creating a relevant domain name can make a good first impression. Otherwise, your website may be viewed negatively.
This also affects the organic SEO rankings of your pages. Although exact match domains (EMDs) are no longer a necessity, your domain name keywords still have the ability to improve your SEO ranking.
Finally, domain names define your brand. A good domain name can increase brand and business recognition.
Tips for choosing a new domain name
Here are some best practices for selecting an appropriate domain name for your website or blog.
- Get to the point: finding a generic domain name that is quite short will help future visitors remember it better.
- Opt for simplicity: choose a name that is easy to pronounce and spell.
- Assess its relevance: a domain name that is related to the theme of your website or blog helps users understand the content of the site quickly.
- Make sure you are identifiable: create your domain name as you would a trademark. Or, take the most natural solution and use your company name as your website’s domain name.
- Use your own name: if you want to create a personal blog, it is very likely that your name or first name/surname will be available as a domain name (unless someone with the same name has already had the same idea).
- Choose a .com or .co.uk domain extension: these are the most common extensions in the UK.
Checking the availability of a domain name
This is the tricky part: each domain name can only be owned by one person at a time. Therefore, to purchase a domain name, you need to find one that is available (i.e. one that no-one else owns) when you carry out your search. You can use a search engine such as Google, and enter the domain name you are after to find out if a website is already registered with that name. Alternatively, there are tools that help you find an available domain name.
How do I buy a domain name?
To buy a domain name, simply go to an online domain name registrar, enter the domain name you want to buy, and then pay for some kind of subscription. However, it is not always necessary to go through a registrar. Web hosting providers, such as OVHcloud, allow you to sign up for a hosting solution, and register a domain name at the same time. If you would like to host a domain name with OVHcloud for the creation of a website, don’t hesitate to contact us.
The legal challenges of domain names
Filing a domain name that includes the name of a known trademark is not the same as owning the trademark’s intellectual and industrial property rights. However, anyone can reserve a domain name containing a trademark, if the company in question has not yet done so. This may create some conflicts between the company and the domain name holder that case-law is trying to address, since a domain name does not have a legal status as such.
It is therefore strongly recommended that businesses reserve several domain names with different extensions (.com, .co.uk, .net, etc.) that incorporate the trademarks used by their company. This will prevent the company’s brand identity from being misused, including by an unfair competitor or cybersquatters. However, French law seems to side with the owners of the trademark registered with the INPI, even if they do not own the corresponding domain name.
Your questions answered
What are the advantages of reserving your domain with OVHcloud?
You have a wide range of domain name extensions to help protect your brand on the internet, if you are a business. OVHcloud also provides you with a custom email address linked to the domain. Furthermore, as a hosting provider, we can strengthen your DNS security, and allow you to configure your DNS zone.
How do I check a domain name’s availability?
There are several ways to check if the domain you want to buy is available. You can search it by name in a search engine (Google, Yahoo!, Bing, DuckDuckGo, etc.), or check the name via our WHOIS tool.