What is a domain name?

Back in the day, a business wasn’t a business if it wasn’t in the Yellow Pages. Nowadays, if a business isn’t on the internet it might as well be invisible. That is where domain names come in. Just like a telephone number, a domain name is unique to the business who owns it. This is the easiest and most direct way for users to find your business’ website on the web.

Domain names were created to make it simpler to find a website. Before domain names, websites were accessed by typing in the IP (internet protocol) address of the host computer. But the internet is used by people, not computers, and we aren’t very good at remembering strings of numbers. And so domain names were born. The first ever domain name ever registered, symbolics.com, was registered on 15 March 1985. It is estimated that in January 2018 there were 332 million registered domains in the world, and this number continues to climb.

Choosing a domain name

With 332 million domain names already registered, finding one that suits you might be tricky, but it can be done with a little luck, creativity, and common sense. First prize would, of course, be your business name. If it has already been taken, try to add a relevant keyword or consider using another extension (see below). Just like a telephone number, you won’t want to change your business’ domain name, so think about the future of your business when choosing. Don’t add anything to your domain name that could potentially limit you. For instance, if you are a bakery that currently only sells bread, registering bestbread.com could prevent you from selling cakes, donuts, or muffins in the future.

Extensions

Your domain name extension is just as important as the name itself. As we mentioned above, you can choose a different extension for your domain name. The most popular ones are called Generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) and include .com, .net, .org and .biz. These extensions can also be used to reflect the location of your business, for instance, .africa, .joburg, or .capetown. Anyone is allowed to register a domain name on these extensions. There are also restricted gTLDs such as .edu that may only be used by educational institutions. Another popular option is Country Code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs), or country code extensions. These can only be owned by people living in the country. A ccTLD is a great option for small businesses and service providers, as people tend to put more trust in local businesses.

 

Of the 1.2 million domains registered with the ZA Central Registry, nearly 96% are South African ccTLDs (.co.za). The second most-used extension is .org.za making up about 2% of domains, with .africa accounting for just over 1%. The .za Domain Name Authority (.ZADNA) recently announced that .za was now also in the planning stage.  

Registering a domain name

Once you have found a domain name and extension you like that is available, you need to register it. Domains.co.za can help you register a domain within minutes, and also provide you with other services such as web hosting, SSL certificates, cloud servers, and more.