What is an Internet Domain?
A domain is essentially an address that helps identify a website or an email address on the internet. It’s like the street address of a building, except that it’s used to locate websites and online services. Domains often include that name of a business – MyCompany.com – or a type of product – myproduct.com. Ideally, domain names are easy to remember, which helps visitors find your site.
When visitors type in a domain name into their web browser, it sends a request to a domain name server (DNS) which translates the name into an IP address. This IP address is a numerical identifier (e.g. 188.8.131.52) that computers use to communicate with each other. Once the DNS server has converted the domain name into an IP address, the browser can connect to the server hosting the website and retrieve its content.
Domain names typically consist of several parts, separated by periods. For example, in the domain name “example.com”, “example” is the name of the website, and “.com” is the top-level domain (discussed below).
The parts of a domain name
Top Level Domain
The top-level domain (TLD) is the part that comes after the last period. Examples of TLDs include .com, .org, .net, .edu, .gov, and many others. TLDs are managed by various organizations around the world, such as ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), which oversee the allocation of TLDs and ensure that they are used properly.
Note: Some TLDs are restricted to specific groups of people or organizations. For example, the .edu TLD is reserved for accredited educational institutions in the United States.
Second Level Domain
The second-level domain (SLD) is the part that comes before the TLD. For instance, in the domain “example.com”, “example” is the SLD. SLDs can be registered by anyone who wants to create a website or an email address, but they must be unique.
Finally, there are subdomains, which are additional levels that come before the SLD. For example, in the domain name “blog.example.com”, “blog” is a subdomain of “example.com”.
What are DNS Records?
As mentioned above, DNS servers translate domain names into a series of numbers that connect browsers to websites and other internet services such as email.
The different types of DNS records
There are many types of DNS records, but the most important ones are listed below. These records either connect browsers to websites (A record and CNAME) or direct email (MX).
info A records point a domain to an IP address.
These records map a domain name to an IPv4 address. For example, an A record might map “example.com” to “184.108.40.206” so that when a user enters “example.com” into their browser, it will take them to the website at IP address “220.127.116.11”.
info CNAME records provide an additional alternative name to the domain, virtually creating a subdomain
These records map subdomains or aliases to domain names. Their most common use is to redirect users who type in “www” before the domain name to the proper website – for instance, redirecting someone who enters “www.example.com” to “example.com”.
MX (Mail Exchange) records
info MX Point to email servers to enable sending and receiving emails
These records specify the mail servers responsible for handling email for a domain name. They help direct incoming email to the correct email servers.
info To better understand DNS Records, watch the code.org video right here.
When you make changes to DNS records, these changes need to be propagated or deployed around the world. Only afterwards will any changes be implemented. These changes can take up to 72 hours.
You can verify propagation using the DNSChecker.
What are Domain Registrars (Providers)?
Domain providers are entities on the web authorized to sell domain names. They are also referred to as Domain Registrars.
You can only purchase (and register) domain names through these providers and any changes you want to make (such as directing your domain to an Elementor hosted site) must be done through your domain provider.
info If you’re not sure who your domain provider is, you can check using tools like WHOIS.