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There are several ways to get a web address as one of the first steps in establishing an online presence. A web address is a more common name for the uniform resource locator (URL). The URL is the familiar character string used in a web browser to locate a specific web page.
Parts of a web address
For a browser to locate the web page, the web address must follow certain standards that have been established. The simplest web address consists of a scheme name, the server or website name, and the domain name. The scheme name for most web addresses is HTTP://. Http stands for hypertext transfer protocol. This protocol establishes the method of communication between the browser and the website. The website or server name is the part before the dot in the name. The domain name is the last portion after the dot, such as com, edu, net, or org.
The domain names are grouped into different hierarchies in the Domain Name System (DNS), such as the generic top-level domains (TLDs), country code top-level domains (ccTLD), and sub-domains. The TLDs are the most recognized domains such as com, info, net, edu, gov, and org. These domains are assigned and administered by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). The ccTLDs include us for the United States, jp for Japan, UK for the United Kingdom, and Germany. The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority administers all ccTLDs (IANA), an ICANN department. There are other domain groups, such as infrastructure top-level domain and sponsored top-level domains. These TLDs and ccTLDs are also referred to as extensions when referring to the entire web address or domain name.
Step 1 – Determining the domain name
To get a web address, one must determine the domain name or extension they wish to acquire and then determine the web address portion they want to register. Some domain names, such as the ccTLDs, are assigned based on the country in which the website is registered. Others are reserved for the type of business or entity that is being registered. For example, the edu extension is reserved for colleges and universities. The gov extension is limited to governmental agencies and entities within the United States. The mil extension is restricted to the United States military institutions.
There are many other domain names referred to as open TLDs, which means that anyone can register them. Those that are not open TLDs may be restricted to a particular group that has been designated by ICANN.
Step 2 – Getting a web address
Now that the domain names (extensions) have been explained, the actual web server or website name should be determined. This is the portion of the web address that will identify the business, person, or entity: johnsmith.com or joesbarbershop.com or smithsflorist.net. An easy way to determine if the desired web name is available is to visit a web hosting company or a domain registration company. These companies can provide a convenient way to look up the desired website name and see if it is available.
One of the leading domain registration and web hosting companies is Host Otter. Users can input the desired domain name into a search box and check the desired name’s availability. If that name is not available, the Network Solution site provides similar domain names currently available. The user can also search by the specific extension that they wish to use. Many times a website may be registered with one domain but not the others.
For example, the joesbarbershop.com web address may already be registered, but joesbarbershop.biz may be available. Since the .com extensions are the most popular, the chances are that they will become unavailable the quickest. Even though both have joesbarbershop in their name, each of these is a unique web address that will take the user to a different web page when typed into the browser. That is why many larger businesses will register all the different domains with their website name to ensure that their customers can find their site. It also protects them against other companies and entities stealing their customers.
Step 3 – Hosting the web address
To have an active web page on the Internet, the web page must be hosted on a web hosting service. Many web hosting companies such as HostOtter.com, myhosting.com, or 1and1.com provide services to allow users to host their web pages on their site and obtain and register a web address. Many of these hosting services will provide free web hosting if a user registers their domain name with their company. Or they will offer the domain name registration at a meager price if the user hosts their web pages with their company.
These sites offer many other services that will help the new user create and develop their web page. Many hosting companies have preset templates and tools that create websites and web pages much easier for beginners. They also offer more robust products and services that will be useful as the new website owner determines that they need additional services.
Once a web address is registered, and a web hosting service is chosen, the web pages are ready to be uploaded. Once pages are uploaded onto a web hosting company’s servers, they will usually be indexed by many major web search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo. This is one of the ways that the public will be able to find a new website. Sharing the web address on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc., or another way to let users know how to access the web page.
While this article has provided a lot of background information on the web address components, getting a web address is not very hard or very expensive. It basically boils down to determining the name of the web address, registering the web address, finding a web hosting service, and finally uploading the web pages to the website.