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What is a domain name?

A domain name is a means of specifically identifying your business to the world. The domain name for our web hosting service is pageplop.com, the one for our web design service is pageplan.com, and for our software development company is pageplanetsoftware.com. Just like our corporate names, they identify our companies, but they go one step farther. Like telephone numbers, they are absolutely unique. There is no other pageplop.com in the world.

Once you have secured a domain name, your potential and existing clients can then find you without hunting your location or confusing you with another company with the same name who may be in a different geographical location.

A domain name has two or more parts, two of which are common to every domain name. The first level domain name is what is on the right side of the period. First level domain name are .com, .net, .org, .mil, .gov, .edu, .biz, .info, .name, .us, and a whole host of two-letter country codes which identify the country where a business is located. The .com, .net, .org, .biz, .info, and .name may be used by anyone. The .us domain may only be used by U.S. citizens, Corporations registered in the U.S., or anyone doing business in the U.S. (e.g., with a U.S. office, selling products in the U.S., etc.). The .mil may only be used by the US government military. The .gov is reserved for governmental agencies. And the .edu is currently reserved for four-year universities, though we are starting to see it allowed for two-year community colleges and other legitimate educational units.

The two-letter country codes are administered by their respective countries or authorized agents representing those countries. Some common country codes are .au for Australia, .ca for Canada, .uk for the United Kingdom, and .fr for France. Most of the country codes are somewhat intuitive, but there are many exceptions. For instance, .ch is Switzerland and .za is South Africa. Most every country has a country code associated with it, though many are not yet equipped to issue domain names based on them.

The second level domain name is generally the name of your company or some variation thereof. For instance, Bojangles has a second level domain name of bojangles and its full domain name is bojangles.com. Others are not so intuitive. APS Corporation can not use aps.com because that domain name is already taken by another company of the same name. APS needs to use apstech.com for its domain name.

In general, the more common the word or the shorter the number of letters in the second level domain name, the more difficult it will be to obtain. As far as we can tell, all one, two and three letter names are completely taken for .com, .net, and .org.

As domain names become more scarce, ICANN, the governing organization that oversees the Internet, will release additional domain extension and the facilities to house those domains and demand rises.

There are other parts to domain names as well. You may have third- or fourth- or fifth-level domain names as needed. Whereas the first and second level domain names are governed and registered formally, once you have secured your domain name you can add any additional domain name as you see fit. If you own company.com, you can also have tech.company.com, sales.company.com, or purchase.company.com. You may also further differentiate with fourth-level domain names such as midwest.sales.company.com or any other variation that suits your needs. All domain name additions from the third-level and beyond do not need to be registered with InterNIC, but rather they are handled by us, your web hosting provider.

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