Without a domain name, websites are specified by an IP address. What is an IP address? It is an identifier that is used by computers or humans to determine the location of a server or website. However, for humans, an IP address, (which is expressed in a numerical format), can be difficult to remember. This is why domain names were invented. With a domain name, a human can locate a website through more user-friendly words or phrases. And although numbers can be a part of a domain name, they usually do not make up all of it, like what is seen with an IP address.
In terms of format, domain names have several parts. The first part is known as the URL, (which stands for Uniform Resource Locator). The URL tells the browser what the domain name is going to point to. This will usually be ‘http’, which means the browser can expect to locate a hypertext document. In layman’s terms this means webpage. In the rare cases the URL is not ‘http’ it may be ‘ftp’, which means file transfer protocol. A webmaster would opt to use ftp if they would like visitors to download files from their server.
The second part of the domain name will be “www.” which stands for “World Wide Web.” This phrase lets computers and humans know the site the domain name is pointing to is indeed from the Internet. It is followed by the actual domain name, which can be a combination of letters, numbers or phrases. A good domain name will be short, memorable and most importantly, search-engine friendly. In fact, good webmasters tend to concentrate more on a domain name’s effectiveness with SEO, (or Search Engine Optimization), than they do its creativity. To do this they make sure to choose a domain name that has a widely searched keyword.
The final portion of the domain name has what is known as an extension. This lets a person know a little bit more about a website’s origins. For example, take .com, the most common domain name extension. It stands for ‘commercial’, and was originally intended for organizations in that vein. However, now the extension is used by virtually anyone looking to create a website. And this is for good reason, since most web surfers will think about the .com before they would think about .org, .biz or .net. Yet, don’t think the other extensions can’t become memorable either. Consider Wikipedia.org which is a wildly popular website despite its .org extension.
Domain name extensions can also specify things on a geographical level. An example are country-based extensions such as .fr, (which stands for France), or .jp, (which stands for Japan). They can also be state-based, such as .ca, (which stands for California). Both can serve as excellent tools for localized Internet marketing.
To get a domain name, a person can either: 1) get one from their web hosting company, provided they offer that service or 2) get one from a separate domain name company. Price-wise things will vary with both options, though typically the cost will range from $6.50 to $35.
Domain Name Tasting
A good domain name not only makes people more likely to visit a website, but it can also increase search engine rankings. This is because search engine bots index websites based on keywords found both in its content and domain name. Yet, how does a webmaster know if their domain name is going to be profitable? Usually most don’t until they put it into practice. Hence, there is the practice of domain name tasting.
What is domain name tasting? Domain name tasting is the process of registering a domain name and seeing how much traffic it brings to a website during whatever grace period the domain name registrar offers, (which is normally five days). If the domain name brings in a lot of visitors, the webmaster will keep it. Otherwise, they will cancel their registration and get a refund.
Does this sound interesting to you? Well, before you decide to do domain name tasting for your site, first consider the ethics of the practice. Domain name companies lose millions of dollars every year due to domain name tasting. While some may not feel sympathy for them, if domain name tasting continues without any legal restrictions, DNS enterprises may strike back by making their prices higher. Such a consequence would also hurt customers who intended on buying the domain name outright.
Another ethical dilemma involved with domain name tasting is the issue of good domain names not being eligible for more serious customers. Some may feel that in a system of free capitalistic enterprise, domain name testers have every right to access however many domain names they can. Yet, if they aren’t really going to buy them, why shouldn’t these domain names be available to individuals who may need them more? Many would argue it is better to sell a domain name to a company that is serious about using it as their brand than selling it to a person thinking they can use it to get quick traffic.
It is also important to keep in mind that a good domain name is not a sole indicator of whether or not a site is going to be successful. Domain name tasters are fooling themselves if they think their practice of domain tasting is what has brought about their success with website traffic. Granted, an expired domain name might have a little bit of traffic associated with it, but to get one that is of value, a person would have to pay hundreds maybe even thousands of dollars. Many domain name tasters wouldn’t have the funds for such a domain name, so they may instead deal with cheaper ones. And most of these cheaper ones probably do not have their own traffic stream.
Indeed, the type of website that gets a lot of traffic is one that has: a decent domain name, keyword-enriched content and lots of inbound links. Even if one doesn’t see anything ethically wrong with domain name tasting, doing it may not accurately reflect whether or not a domain name is valid. In fact, if a person does domain name tasting and their website did not have the other elements that make for proper traffic-building, they could potentially be throwing away a domain name that could be a gold mine in the future.
Domain Name Arbitration
After several minutes of pondering and looking at keyword analyzers, you find the perfect domain name for your new website. You see if it is available through your desired domain name company. When you find that it is, you get excited because it seems that it is going to be quite profitable for your site. So, you sign up for it, thinking that it is up for grabs, since your domain name company has said it is available.
Then after a few months you get correspondence from an attorney saying that your new domain name has violated another company’s trademark. You are now stuck with a potential legal battle that could cause you to lose your domain name, your reputation and maybe even worse. Fortunately, with domain name arbitration, there’s a chance you can get out of such a situation and avoid any possible legal consequences.
What is domain name arbitration? It is a process in which the complainant and the original holder of the domain name try to work out a reasonable agreement as to who actually has the rights to the domain name in question. The arbitration in itself is done through the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy, (also known as UDRP). This is a special arbitration method set forth by the ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) organization. It is used for most domain name disputes, because it is cheaper and less time-consuming than ‘traditional’ litigation.
In order to initiate a domain name arbitration proceeding, a webmaster must go through a provider that has been approved by ICANN to handle such disputes. Once the arbitration begins, the provider will first determine if the complainant has merit in their claim. They will do this by evaluating whether the domain name in question is similar to a trademark or domain name set forth by the claimant.
They will then determine what rights the claimant has to the title along with whether or not the domain was chosen accidentally or with the intention of taking advantage of the claimant’s brand popularity. If it is found the domain name was chosen in bad faith, rights to it will be granted to the claimant. Otherwise, the original owner will retain possession of the disputed domain name.
If either party is not satisfied with a domain name arbitration proceeding, they can challenge the findings in a regular courtroom. An example of this happened with Robert De Niro, when he tried to claim the rights to any domain name containing the phrase ‘Tribeca.’ He is still in court trying to retain the rights to Tribeca.net, which has been claimed by another person.
In conclusion, domain name arbitration is a great alternative to avoiding taking a domain name dispute into a courtroom, at least initially. There is the option to go to court if either side feels an arbitration isn’t fair. Yet, for most webmasters, the decisions made by the UDRP panel are good enough for them, since getting their consul is a lot cheaper than going to a judge.