Colwich Computer Club. 

Debunking Domain Names. 

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There are many myths and inaccuracies told about Domain Names. The first and main one to consider is that a website Domain Name must be exactly that of the company concerned. Many big companies spent fortunes in the past, running into millions of pounds and some still do, buying and registering all of the Domain Name variants of their company names, so that customers would be able to find their website. This is not really the correct reason they do this though as it doesn’t matter what the Domain name of the website is. The real reason is so that fraudsters can’t make their illegal copy websites look genuine with an address the same as that of the company. Incidentally it is a sad fact that most people don’t know how to correctly enter a full website address including all the characters of the domain name anyway. The vast majority of people simply type in the company name, or part of the address, to a search engine and run a search. In fact it wasn’t so many years ago that Google changed the way that the address bar at the top of the screen worked, putting predictive text completion into the address bar because most people couldn’t use it!

Domain names are cheap to register costing only a few pounds a year, but any website needs hosting and it is this that costs money, although prices, terms and functionality, vary tremendously. Some hosts will allow you to include several domain names and lower level, or sub domains, in the one hosting package, although if different websites are built in different dedicated folders you can build many sites on one domain name and they can all operate independently, although technically they needn’t be classed as sub-domains. A lower level domain is when part of the address name is broken/separated/divided by a full stop as in .co.uk. CO is actually a lower level of the domain UK that refers to United Kingdom web-sites.

Another fallacy regarding domain names is that you can’t get a proper listing without a good domain name. This is rubbish as it is the “File Title,” not the name that appears in the web browser and search engine listing. The “File Title” is in the first block of html code for the page, not the “File Name” that you save the file under. The search engine, or Google listing is all important and although you can pay can for the service, Google do offer the facility to “Register Your URL” for free if you know where to look. Other search engines will pick up your site listing as well, eventually, but it may take some time. You will often see promotions offering to get your website higher up the rankings by inserting premium “Keywords” to your website. Keywords used to be all important to search engines, but this is not so now, at least not using keywords as they were originally intended. They will still help, but most search engines simply scour through the text of your site and pick keywords from that for searches and of course they also use the “File Title.”

It used to be good advice to be wary of websites that don’t start www and it still is, but many free websites don’t and nor do many operational download sites such as those for downloading Microsoft updates. Most people still consider a Domain Name that ends in .CO.UK to be more reliable than a foreign website selling the same products, but there are now many other domains, in use and many are run by home grown companies that for whatever reason don’t use a .CO.UK address.

As the number of world wide websites grew, the first variations were just from the names of other countries plus org, gov, or co and of course the international extension of .COM. Rapidly though, many new names and extensions were added and to begin with, some weren’t recognised by all browsers. Nowadays common domain names include net, name and biz; in fact it seems that anything goes. Some domain names are much more of a draw for the public than others and one such is that for the island country of Tuvalu. The TV extension is a big draw for sites connected with television programs and has proved a very lucrative money spinner for the small state.

If you have any doubts about, or problems with a website, it is possible to find some reassuring information from a site called “WhoIs.com.” This site will provide up to date information on all sites and their operating companies including their UK Company registration Number, address that can be a PO Box, the Date the web-site was set up, and other details can include Phone Numbers as well as an E-Mail address etc. However, many hosting facilities do offer the operators of websites, the ability to withhold specific details from the registration system and enables the operators to give unhelpful vagaries which in themselves should make surfers suspicious.