What is a domain name and why do I need one?
A domain name sends visitors to the numerical address where a web page resides on the Internet. Ideally a domain name should be as easy to remember as possible, like www.online.ie or www.ireland.com.
Although it is possible to obtain a unique name at someone else's domain for free, like www.eircom.net/mybusiness, it is better to have your own domain name, so you are not reliant on another company to maintain an address for you. There is also the question of consumer trust, not having your own domain is often viewed as unprofessional.
How do I obtain a domain name?
You can register the popular global top-level domains, .com, .net and .org through numerous companies. If you already have a web host it is probably easiest to contact them as they can provide the domain registrar with all the relevant technical details. If you do not have a host or wish to divert your domain to free web space there are many registrars that cater for that situation also.
Country top-level domains like Ireland's .ie all work a little differently. To obtain a .ie domain you need to fulfill certain requirements that would not apply when registering a .com. You can register .ie domains directly with the IE Domain Registry or through many of the Irish web hosts.
All domain names must be unique, and the first thing to do is check whether your chosen domain is available. Most sites that sell domains provide a "Whois" search facility, so as you can check if your name has already been registered.
The cost of domain names varies but you can generally obtain most domains for a cost of £100 or less per year. There are exceptions, for example the island of Tuvalu sold its top-level domain, .tv, to a US company that now sells .tv domains for a lot more.
Lots of businesses find that their chosen domain has already been registered, even if it is not being used. This is unfortunately true of many popular names. It is also quite possible that another business of the same or a similar name is already legitimately using your chosen name.
You can sometimes buy or lease a domain from its owner, or even take legal action if you can prove a lawful claim to a domain that is being "cybersquatted". This is a legal matter though and you must consult your solicitor, for proper advice. It is a good idea to take legal advise even if you have obtained your chosen domain, registering a trademark for example is one way to protect yourself in case anyone tries to stake a claim to your domain.
The Latest News
On 16 November 2000, The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) announced that it has authorized seven new global top-level domains.
It is hoped that this will alleviate the strain on the popular .com, .net, .org names, which are already home to nearly 30 million web sites.
Although it will be next year before these names become available for purchase, they are now confirmed as:
.aero for airlines, airports, and related industries.
.biz for businesses.
.coop for business cooperatives.
.info for general use.
.museum for museums.
.name for personal web sites.
.pro for professionals such as solicitors and doctors.
- Afilias, LLC
Global Name Registry Ltd. is the appointed registry operator for the new .name top-level domain.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.
- IE Domain Registry
The IE domain is the top-level Internet domain for Ireland. The site includes a search facility to check if your chosen domain is available as well as up to date details of how to register .ie domains.
- Irish Web Designs
Irish Web Designs is one company offering domain registration services. There are many more but I have chosen Irish Web Designs as an example because they register both .ie and .com, .net, .org names and provide a wide range of services including forwarding and cloaking for those wanting to use using free web space.
- JVTeam, LLC
JVTeam, LLC is a joint venture between NeuStar and Melbourne IT and the appointed registry operator for the new .biz top-level domain.
- Museum Domain Management Association
The Museum Domain Management Association is the appointed registry operator for the new .museum top-level domain.
The National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA), is the appointed registry operator for the new .coop top-level domain.
- RegistryPro Ltd.
RegistryPro Ltd. is the appointed registry operator for the new .pro top-level domain.
Societe Internationale de Telecommunications Aeronautiques SC is the appointed registry operator for the new .aero top-level domain.
- Workz.com Domain Articles
A collection of articles about domain names from small business portal, Workz.com.