What Is A Web Domain?

By John Wallace Monday, April 23, 2018
Meta: A web domain is one of crucial building blocks of every website. Let’s find out everything you want to know about a domain name in our today’s guide!

Introduction

Millions of people all around the world access to the Internet every day. They access to a website by typing a series of letters (that they often so-call the website name) into the address bar of their browser. Then, the browser will lead the user to the website you requested.
You might know already that this series of letters is called a web domain. But do you know how it works? Let’s find out!

What Is a Web Domain?

A domain, or website address, is an address that can represent several IP (Internet Protocol) addresses. For example, in the URL http://www.abcd.com/bba.html, the domain name is ‘abcd.com’. Every computer has a specific string of random numbers called an IP address. Since humans can’t always remember a long number such as 66.220.144.0, which is an IP address used by Facebook, domain names are used instead. However, just by typing in the domain name in the address bar of your browser, you will be automatically redirected to the requested website.
Image result
A web domain name consists of a combination of several letters (and digits in some cases) followed by an extension, such as .net, .org, .com, etc. which are known as Top Level Domain (TLD). Domain names are unique so that there are no websites with the same name. To translate domain names to IP addresses for every web server, the Domain Name System, DNS for short, is required.

To make it simple, web domain names replace and hide the IP addresses that users don’t need to know. As a result, they can simplify their searches and reach their desired destination. For that reason, a domain name is one of crucial building blocks of every website

Structure of a Web Domain

As mentioned above, the basic structure of a domain name must contain the actual web domain name (second level domain) and an extension called top level domain. For example, in the ‘amazon.com’, ‘amazon’ is the second level domain or domain label, while ‘.com’ is the top level domain.

Domain names are organized from right to left. Top level domain (TLD or parent domain) represents the purpose of the organization or individual, and in this case, ‘.com’ is for commercial purpose. Other top level domains would be .edu for educational institutions, .org for non-profit organizations, .net for network organizations, .gov for government agencies and many more.

Most American Servers use three-letter TLD while other countries use only two-letter TLD such as .jp, .ca or .ru, … Second level domain (SLD) is what defines the organization or individual and is also seen as more ‘recognizable’ for users on the Internet. The rule for creating a web domain name is to have a unique second level domain along with a registered top level domain by ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.
Image result for structure of a domain name
Formed in 1998, the ICANN has been managing, registering and shutting down top level domains until now. It provides balance to the Internet’s infrastructure to ensure that the DNS and IP all run smoothly. Besides ICANN, some top level domains, such as .com and .net, are maintained by other entities known as Registries. Certain companies hold responsibility for certain extensions and make them accessible through the WHOIS tool.  If you want to register a web address for a site, you’ll need to go to a registrar who is a designated entity by the registry.

Despite not required, a subdomain which is also known as the third level domain, is part of a larger domain that can be used to specify the content of the certain website. For example, in ‘aws.amazon.com’, ‘aws’ is Amazon’s subdomain and it will lead you to the Amazon Web Services homepage, which contains everything about AWS. With top level domain, second level domain and third level domain combined and separated by periods, a web domain name becomes fully-qualified.
On the other hand, the top level domain is not the highest level of domain, but the root domain is. Root domain is a domain that you need to buy or register with a TLD extension. The root domain is represented by a dot or a “/” and it is on the right of the TLD but is never shown.

How Does a Web Domain Work?

So far you’ve learned about domains and that websites are hosted by servers all over the world, do you know the technology behind them? Domains are easy to remember and define; however, websites can only be recognized by IP addresses. In order to do this, Domain Name System (DNS) servers are needed. Casual Internet users won’t normally realize they’re using the DNS to access certain websites. DNS servers contain and manage a massive database of domains with the corresponding IP addresses and route you to the requested location. They’re just like the Internet’s version of phonebooks when you need a specific number to call a specific individual.

Let’s say you want to go through a Wiki page about the Internet, the only way Internet users get to that page is by typing a web domain onto the search bar of their browser. However, that website is only recognized by an IP address, which is 91.198.174.192. Therefore, the browser helps you by accessing the DNS server and find the exact IP address of where you want to go to. For example, if you want to go to ‘domain.net’, the browser will try to go through all the name servers within the .net top level domains to find the exact IP address of domain.net and give you access to the website.

Conclusion

Imagine what browsing the Internet would be like if it weren’t for the DNS, there’d be nothing but just a bunch of numbers and dots. Hopefully, our today’s article has given you enough information about web domain names, what they comprise of, why they are important, and how they work. Leave your comment below if you have any questions to ask us. Thank you for reading!