Besides signing up for a web hosting service, you also need to purchase a domain name. While web hosting allows you to rent server space for your site, the domain name acts as an address of your site.
When your users want to check out your site, they type the domain name into their browser’s address bar and your server transfers the content they requested for.
With most web hosts, you need to purchase your domain name separately. Or, if you already own a domain, you can also transfer it to your current hosting provider. Similarly to web hosting plans, you need to pay for your domain name annually in order to keep the ownership of the domain.
A domain name is an identification string that defines a realm of administrative autonomy, authority or control within the Internet. Domain names are used in various networking contexts and for application-specific naming and addressing purposes. In general, a domain name identifies a network domain, or it represents an Internet Protocol (IP) resource, such as a personal computer used to access the Internet, a server computer hosting a website, or the web site itself or any other service communicated via the Internet. In 2017, 330.6 million domain names had been registered.
Domain names are formed by the rules and procedures of the Domain Name System (DNS). Any name registered in the DNS is a domain name. Domain names are organized in subordinate levels (subdomains) of the DNS root domain, which is nameless. The first-level set of domain names are the top-level domains (TLDs), including the generic top-level domains (gTLDs), such as the prominent domains com, info, net, edu, and org, and the country code top-level domains (ccTLDs). Below these top-level domains in the DNS hierarchy are the second-level and third-level domain names that are typically open for reservation by end-users who wish to connect local area networks to the Internet, create other publicly accessible Internet resources or run web sites.
The registration of these domain names is usually administered by domain name registrars who sell their services to the public.
A fully qualified domain name (FQDN) is a domain name that is completely specified with all labels in the hierarchy of the DNS, having no parts omitted. Traditionally a FQDN ends in a dot (.) to denote the top of the DNS tree. Labels in the Domain Name System are case-insensitive, and may therefore be written in any desired capitalization method, but most commonly domain names are written in lowercase in technical contexts.