The Internet is primarily made up of a variety of websites. These websites have a name with which one can recognize them. For example, this website has the name of www.buzzle.com. This is also known as the website's address. And in very technical terms, it is called a domain name. Thus, one can define a Domain Name as the address of a website on the Internet.
A domain name is also often used interchangeably with the term URL (Uniform Resource Locator). There is one slight difference, however, between a domain name and a URL. An example should help explain this effectively. Note that, while www.yourdomainname.com is the name of your domain, www.yourdomainname.com/awebpage.html is the URL.
How to Register a Domain Name
This is something you would have to do if you want to have a domain name of your own. But before registering, it is imperative to check if the name you want is available or not. To do that, you will have to perform an extensive search. Once you find out that the domain name you chose is available, you can purchase it via a registration service provider.
If you search for domain name registrars or service providers on the Internet, you will find several such providers. If you go to their site, they will often provide a domain name search facility for free. All you have to do is type in the name that you want, and search for it. If it is not available, the site will let you know right away. This means you can type an alternative name and search again. This process can go on till you find a domain name that is available.
You can then move on to the next step―which is purchasing the domain name from the registrar. A domain registrar is a company which registers the domain names on the Internet for a fee. These domain registrars have to be registered with the ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). Ideally, before proceeding with the registration process, you should check if the domain registrar is, in fact, registered with the ICANN. You can double check this on the ICANN website as well.
Then you can begin with the registration formalities. This involves providing your details, such as your name, address, and contact details, for technical and other purposes. These details become a part of a database known as the WHOIS directory.
Another thing one can do while doing a domain search, is look up the owners of the domain names you want but are not available, on the WHOIS directory. This is freely accessible on the Internet. If the domain has been bought with the idea of reselling it later, details of the owners would be available in the WHOIS directory. You can contact such people, and buy the domain from them, in case the costs work out to your advantage.
Once your financial transactions with the reseller have been completed to your mutual satisfaction, the domain transfer formalities begin. This will transfer the ownership of the domain name to you.
Domain name transfers are also available for people who already own a domain, and want to transfer the registration to another registrar. This can happen for a variety of reasons. It may be that the registrar is providing add-on services, such as web hosting services, which have different features than what you want. Or it could be because you found a cheaper service provider. Or it could be because you are unhappy with your current registrar. No matter what your reasons are, transfers are allowed by law, and usually take some time. So, ideally, one must begin these procedures at least a month or two before the registration expires.
Apart from having a domain name, you will also need server space to store the data and the webpages you want to display on the website. For that, you will need a website hosting service. Some registrars provide web hosting service plans and packages as well.
Armed with all this information, you can now go ahead and purchase a domain name of your choice and create your own web presence on the Internet!