How Domain Names Work: A Breakdown For Beginners

September 18 2020

Authored by: Kristin Johnson 3 Minute Read


Just as your home has its own unique address, so too does your favorite website. In fact, every website you visit requires a domain name so that the World Wide Web can direct you to the right place.    


But with millions of websites created each day, how does the Internet map out and direct traffic to all these online destinations? It starts with a clear understanding of the Domain Name System, a key component of the modern Internet. 


Wait, what is the Internet? 

First, think of the Internet as essentially a network of interconnected computers. It’s actually more accurately described as a “network of networks” because computers first link via a local network, then regional, then all together to form the massive and global World Wide Web. Computers recognize each other via “IP Addresses,” which are unique identification numbers electronically generated by the computers. 


What is a Domain Name System?

Domain names serve as a shortcut to the server that hosts your website.

Just as a home address needs a directory to help, let’s say, a long-lost relative to find you, the IP Address needs a directory of sorts as well. The Domain Name System is basically the Yellow Pages of the Internet. Instead of having web users surf by typing in a random string of numbers, it assigns a domain name to an IP address. 

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, is an organization that oversees the database of all domain name registrations and availabilities. Just as every home address consists of a few combined elements (a street number, a street, city, state and zip code) and website address mainly consists of just two elements: a domain name and a web server. We’ve gone over domain name, so let’s break down what a web server is: A web server hosts the databases that your website is made from and makes your website available to whoever logs into the Internet.


Why do we need a Domain Name System?

Without a domain name, anyone who wanted to visit your website would have to enter the full IP address. But an IP address is difficult to memorize. Imagine being a business owner and having to write out a full IP address such as on all your brochures and ads! A domain name like would be much, much easier and enticing for your customers to type out. 


Types of Domains

The Domain Name System is vast, and consists of different types of domains. For the purposes of this introductory article, we’re going to focus on Top Level Domains, or TLDs. These are the most prominent domains on the web in terms of use and views. While .com makes up nearly half of all websites on the Internet, there are many other TLDs on the rise such as .us, .co, .tel, .org, .net and so on. As the Internet becomes massive, these emerging TLDs are more sought after than ever as businesses and organizations look to secure short and memorable domain names. 


How to Register Your Domain

Whether you are a hot startup opting for a .co domain, or a national organization fit for a .us web address, run a domain name search online to check availability. 

As you claim your domain, build your website and market it to the world, you’ll find that your website domain is more than just a web address, but one of the best marketing tool your business has


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