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The Difference Between Domains and Websites

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We always try to avoid industry buzzwords and jargon. But some are unavoidable with web design and marketing. One example is the difference between your Website, and the Domain Name which allows people to access it easily. The difference between domains and websites can lead to confusion whether you're buying a new website address (domain), or explaining a problem to your web design or marketing agency.

If you picture a website as your house, the domain name is the address which allows people to find you. For instance, when you type in Facebook.com, Google.co.uk or BBC.co.uk, you're typing in the domain name for those websites.

How Websites reach the Internet:

Not all websites ever become available via the internet. Anyone can have a go at building a website on their computer without ever needing to publish it online. That's good if you want to learn about developing websites or design, but not very helpful if you want to attract any customers!

If you want your website to be visible beyond your home computer, you'll need to make it available online. And rather than using your home broadband to accommodate visitors from around the world, it makes sense to use a machine which is dedicated to serving content to the internet, known as a Web Server. These are specialist computers dedicated to making sure your website is available online with the best speeds and reliability.

Your website and server is now accessible if someone uses an Internet Protocol (IP) address. But it relies on each person typing in 28 numbers every time they want to visit your website. E.G 2606:2800:220:6d:26bf:1447:1097:aa7

This is where domains come in.

How Domain Names Work:

A domain name makes it easy for anyone to visit and remember your website.

The prefix can be anything - often your brand name, a logical related word or phrase, or a mixture of the two. If you're starting a new business, it can be worth seeing what domains are available before you settle on a name - otherwise you may have to agree a price with an existing company.

The suffix is where .com, .co.uk and other endings come in. They're technically known as the 'Top Level Domain (TLD)' and some are reserved for governments, education or the military.

The first business suffix was the .com TLD which was short for commercial. But others including .net were also adopted by businesses.

As the internet expanded around the world, region-specific Geographic TLDs (gTLDs) were introduced, including .co.uk, and .eu.

And recently a whole range of new TLDs have been created due to the increasing shortage of short and memorable domain names. You can pick from a huge range - everything from .agency, .bike and .builders to .yachts or .zip.

Domain Name Tips:

If you've already purchased a domain but want to change your website or web hosting, then you'll need to know how the domain controls can be accessed - whether that's via a username and password you have, or a web developer or agency you've worked with.

When you're buying new domains, the endings available to businesses including .com, .co.uk and the new options for .builders etc. The country-specific TLDs are the only ones currently likely to have any influence on search engines, but it's minor compared the other details on your site (So a .com can rank highly in a UK search for example).

Really it comes down to your choice on how memorable you want your website address to be. Internet users expect .com or .co.uk, so the more unusual the ending, the more you might have to do to educate people about your website address.

Depending on the size of your company and plans for the future, you may want to buy more than one domain name - for instance, the .com, .co.uk and .eu versions. One should be picked as your main 'canonical' website address, e.g. the .co.uk, and the other two can then be directed to it, so whichever version is typed in, customers land on your homepage.

We've spent years working with the best hosting and domain services to help our clients, so don't be afraid to contact us if you need help setting up your business website - our complete Web Design packages mean you can focus on customers, not the technical details!

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