Often referred to as a TLD, a top-level domain is the very last part of a domain name.
When you see a domain name like farbyte.uk, the TLD is the final characters that come after the final period (.).
So in the case of farbyte.uk, the top level domain is 'uk'.
What Do I Need A Top-Level Domain For?
Any business or other entity that wants an internet presence should register a domain name based on one of the globally recognised TLDs detailed above.
In the very early days of the internet, people dialed up to servers connected to the worldwide web & from their they would often have to navigate using the IP address of the website or server they wanted to connect to.
At the time IPv4 was used.
An IPv4 address would look something like 192.168.1.50.
As you can see, this is not very intuitive when trying to go to websites you want to use.
It's much easier for a human to use word-based addresses such as google.com & thus a global Domain Naming System (DNS) was rolled out.
This global DNS system is coordinated by an organisation called ICANN, which runs the global TLD DNS servers.
Services such as domain hosting ensure that your domain name is integrated into the global DNS infrastructure & your website or service can be located on the internet.
What Types Of TLD Are There?
There are a few different types of top-level domains.
ICANN is the organisation that manages & coordinates the integration of TLDs around the world.
They break them up into the following categories based on location, owner & website purpose:
- ccTLD - country code
- sTLD - supported domains
- gTLD - general domains
1. Country Code (ccTLD)
These domains are country specific, with their TLD based on the 2 letter ISO code for the country.
In our previous example, farbyte.uk falls into this category, as it comes beneath the .UK top-level domain.
Some example, of counrty code top-level domains are:
- .uk - United Kingdom
- .us - United States
- .in - India
- .ca - Canada
2. Supported Domains (sTLD)
There are usually restrictions in place on who can register supported domains.
In order to register a domain under these TLDs, the registrant must comply with the rules defined for the TLD.
Some examples of this type of TLD are:
- .edu - educational institutes
- .mil - military
- .gov - government
- .posts - postal services
3. General Domains (gTLD)
These are the most popular domain types & have little or no rules restricting who can register the domain.
Some examples of general top-level domains include:
- .com - commercial
- .net - networks
- .biz - business
- .org - organisations
How Should I Choose My Domain Name?
The domain name you choose for your online venture is very important for the long-term success of your website.
Some techniques & things to consider when you choose your domain name are:
- Brainstorming ideas
- Use different word combinations
- Consider the domain name length & pronunciation
- Does the domain always read correctly without misinterpretation?
- Which TLD is most suitable?
- Is the name a registered trademark?
- Is the name available?
Why Is My Domain Name Important?
Your domain name is your online identity.
It should be easy to remember & ideally not more than 20 characters long.
Most popular domains are below 10 characters & ideally, should not include hyphens (-).
If your domain name meets the above criteria, you've given yourself a huge advantage in creating an online presence that people can remember & easily share with others by word of mouth, etc.
Do I Own The Domain?
You never own a domain name outright.
Instead, you are simply renting the name on an indefinite lease, so long as you keep up the annual payments on the domain.
Every domain name is leased from the domain registrar that manages that TLD namespace (e.g. .com, .uk, etc.).