What is a domain name?

Domain names are part of the system used to locate information on the web.

The domain is part of a complete digital address, called a URL (Universal Resource Locator), which points directly to a particular piece of content, such as a web page, a video, an image, or a file.

For example, here is the URL of the web page you’re reading now:


Don’t worry if that looks complicated at first glance.

URLs must be written in a certain way. This format lets your browser navigate quickly to exactly the right place online, just like a properly-addressed package allows your local postal worker deliver to the correct house.

Let’s break it down.


The first part of the URL is called the Protocol.

Protocol tells your web browser how it should communicate with a web server. In the URL example shown above, the protocol is the text that looks like this:


There are many different protocols used on the web. The most common ones which you will most likely encounter are:


Hypertext Transfer Protocol. This is an older, non-secure way of transferring web data which is fast becoming outdated. Uses Port 80. Best avoid if possible.


Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. This is the current best practice for websites. Uses Port 443 and requires a valid SSL certificate, which Centre Neptune will supply and install for you, as part of our complete service.


File Transfer Protocol. This is used to rapidly move bulk data between computers and servers, often when uploading files to your web server. Uses Ports 20-21, and requires an FTP Client to be installed on your local computer.

In the world of email, you may also encounter protocols named POP, IMAP and SMTP, which we’ll cover elsewhere. Let’s stick to the web for now.

Does your website need updating to a secure protocol? Call us.

Domain name.

The second part of the URL is called the Domain Name.

Your domain name identifies a unique space on the internet – one which you control and are responsible for. In our URL example above, the domain name is the text that looks like this:


All domain names must consist of an identifying text string, which in our case is centreneptune, plus a Top-Level Domain (TLD), which in this case is .com

There are many Top-Level Domains to choose from, and each one says something different about your business or web space. The most common are:


Commercial. Commonly used to denote the websites of for-profit commercial businesses or enterprises.


Organisation. Commonly used by non-profits, charitable enterprises, and miscellaneous businesses that are not purely commercial in nature.


Network. Originally used by companies involved in communications, network infrastructure, and ISPs, but today used for all kinds of online ventures.


Business. Generic TLD intended to denote any kind of business venture.


UK Commercial. Very common in the UK, obviously, this is actually a combination of Top-Level Domain (TLD) and Second-Level Domain (SLD). The .uk is a TLD for the United Kingdom, and the .co is an SLD which means commercial.

There are currently over 1500 Top-Level Domains in existence. Centre Neptune can help you choose wisely.

Some TLDs are cheap, some are expensive. We can advise.


The third part of our example URL is called the Path.

Paths are used to locate data files within a domain. In our URL example above, the path is the text that looks like this:


This tells your web browser to open the domains folder, which can be found inside the services folder. Each forward-slash ( / ) denotes a new folder.

If an exact filename is not specified, your browser will automatically try to open the index file of the target folder, which in this case is exactly what we want to do.

Need help choosing a domain? Reach out to us.

Pretty dark down here.