by Analuz Abing

December 20, 2019

Website 4 min read

Understanding the Structure of a Domain Name

You already have an idea about domains and their functions. Now let’s dive into its structure.

When you build a foundation for your website, it helps to understand what parts of the domain are unchangeable, and what you can choose yourself.

Getting Down to the Basics: URL vs. Domain Name 

Getting Down to the Basics: URL vs. Domain Name

Many people confuse domains and URLs. Some use the terms interchangeably, when they actually have distinct functions.

A URL (Universal Resource Locator) is the complete file address used to locate any page on your website.

More examples of URLs:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.com

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hIQjrMHTv4

A domain name, meanwhile, is a part of your URL. It’s a readable form of an IP address — a.k.a that looong string of numbers that only machines can understand.

Domain names come after the “@” sign of an email address and after the “www.” in a web address. So if anyone asks about your website, you answer with your domain name.

More examples of domain names:

youtube.com

wikipedia.com

crazydomains.com

Taking from the examples above, domains consist of two primary parts: a second-level domain (SLD) and a top-level domain (TLD).

SLDs, TLDs: Understanding the Key Parts of a Domain Name

Second-level domain 

1. Second-level domain

SLDs are what makes your domain name unique. This could be your personal name, brand or company name.

In www.crazydomains.com, for example, crazydomains is the second-level domain.

Customise your second-level domain to your heart’s content. Use it to flaunt your unique brand and boost your search ranking.

When choosing an SLD, remember these quick tips:

  • Keep it short and simple — around 6 to 14 characters.
  • Keep it catchy and memorable.
  • Make sure it’s available and not trademark-protected.
  • Minimise using numbers, hyphens and other special characters.
  • Insert a keyword related to your industry or niche
  • Try the keyword + modifier formula, example: bestkitchen.com or easycredit.com.au

Top-level domain (TLD) 

2. Top-level domain (TLD)

TLD, also called domain extension, are found at the end part of your domain name.

You can’t register your domain name without a TLD. They’re allocated by ICANN — the organisation that manages the internet — to those who want to rent a space online.

The most popular domain categories include:

Country-code top-level domain (ccTLD)

ccTLDs are country-specific domain extensions. You can use them if you want to market to a certain country or locale.

There are over 200 ccTLDs out there. Generally, they contain two letters of the latin alphabet, such as:

  • .AU for Australia
  • .SG for Singapore
  • .UK for the United Kingdom
  • .NZ for New Zealand

An exception to the rule are IDN ccTLDs (internationalized country code top-level domains). These are domains that use their native country’s script. China, for example, acknowledges both its ccTLD .CN and its IDN ccTLD, .中国 — which translates to “China”.

Generic top-level domain (gTLD)

Generic TLDs depict what kind of website you are. They’re also the most commonly-used domain extensions.

Think of the popular websites we visit — Facebook.com, Google.com, Youtube.com. .com shows that they’re commercial websites.

And did you notice? Almost all the websites you visit use the .com extension. That’s because 48% of websites globally uses it.

So you shouldn’t be surprised anymore if your ideal .com domain name is already taken. If this happens, try registering for other popular TLDs, such as:

  • .co (company, also used as the ccTLD for Colombia)
  • .org (organisation)
  • .net (network)
  • .edu (education)
  • .gov (government)
  • .info (information)
  • .biz (business)
  • .shop (ecommerce)

Remember that other gTLDs are not like .com, which is open for anyone to register. For example, .edu is restricted for educational institutions and .gov is for government organisations.

Important Components of Your URL — Explained

The following are not components of a domain name, but of your URL. Nonetheless, it pays to understand their use and how they affect your domain name:

HTTP/HTTPS 

HTTPS

The protocol identifier or URL prefix is what you usually see on the first part of your URL. From the term itself, it identifies the protocol used to locate a resource online.

There are various protocol identifiers, such as ftp, mailto, file, and news. But what we commonly see is HTTP or HTTPS.

HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) represents a data transfer protocol that directs how a web server and a browser communicate.

HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure), meanwhile, is the same protocol embedded with SSL.

SSL (Secure Socket Layer) encrypts the data a user inputs into your website, protecting all website information from being stolen. This data could be personal information, like bank account details.

That said, SSL provides an extra layer of protection to your website, making it more trustworthy for customers.

So when browsing a website, keep an eye for that HTTPS:// label. While you’re at it, get one for your own website, too.

Recommended: Protect your customer’s information with Crazy Domains SSL Certificates

Subdomain

Subdomain

You might have an idea what the most common subdomain is. That’s right, it’s the www!

Subdomains are a part of your main domain. They’re easily changeable, and you can use them to create unique pages for your site and help drive traffic to your main site.

Get started with these examples:

  • blog.yourdomain.com - for publishing informative, relevant content for your audience
  • support.yourdomain.com - for a separate landing page for customer support
  • store.yourdomain.com - for the ecommerce side of your business

Note that changing subdomains depends on your user access level. If you need assistance, make sure to ask your domain provider first.

Subdomains help drive traffic to your main website. Take advantage of them!

Ready to Choose Your Ideal Domain Name?

Now that you understand what comprises a domain name, it's time to choose the best one for your business.

Hop on to our ultimate rules for picking a business domain name.

Skip to section

Bonus Content

[Infographic] What Makes Up a Web Address

DOWNLOAD

Bonus Content