The Best of the Tech Helpline: Seven Web Terms You Need to Know

 June 08, 2018

Getting up to speed on technology terms and the differences between them can help increase your tech knowledge. More importantly, familiarity can help you become more comfortable with technology in general. You‚Äôve likely heard a few common words related to web presence ‚ÄĒ like ‚ÄúURL,‚ÄĚ ‚Äúdomain name‚ÄĚ or ‚ÄúIP address‚ÄĚ ‚ÄĒ but have you ever really dove deep into what these terms mean?

Domain name

A domain name is most recognized as the name of a website: or The domain name consists of a string of identifiers used to access a website. Each domain name is unique, which gives individuals and companies the ability to establish their own identity on the internet. For companies, a domain name allows them to match their brand, like And although there are several domain extensions available ‚ÄĒ .com, .edu, .org or .net ‚ÄĒ businesses should use ‚Äú.com‚ÄĚ for two reasons: one, to represent commerce, and two, because the .com extension is the industry standard and thus ranks better in searches.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) manages domain name system roots, internet number resources and protocol parameters on behalf of the global internet community.

Domain registrar

A domain registrar is a company where you register your domain name. The registrar manages your domain and ensures no one else can. It’s important to note that you cannot buy your domain name. You can only buy the registration annually, although you can purchase multiple years together.


Buying a domain name does not mean you have a website ‚ÄĒ you still have to build it and make it accessible to others. A website is a collection of pages that feature content ‚ÄĒ copy, images, video and other elements ‚ÄĒ that are linked to each other to provide information. The website is what people see on the internet when they visit your domain name.


It‚Äôs an abbreviation for ‚Äúuniform resource locator.‚ÄĚ A URL encompasses all the components of a web address that are necessary to find a specific website, web page or specific section within a web page. Every URL contains the domain name as well as other components needed to locate a specific page or piece of content within a website. An example of a URL is If a user mistypes just one letter or punctuation, that user will either see an error or go to the wrong place.
Think of your domain name as your business name, the URL as your business address, and your website as your office, where buyers and sellers get the information they seek.

IP address

Every computer and device is assigned a unique set of numbers separated by periods so that it can be uniquely identified on the internet. That number is called its IP, or ‚Äúinternet protocol,‚ÄĚ address. It‚Äôs akin to a computer‚Äôs home address and allows it to communicate with other computers. It‚Äôs dynamic, not usually fixed so that it can change, and your internet provider typically assigns your IP address. You can see your public IP address at
When your website’s web host connects to the internet, it gets an IP address for your domain name as well. The domain name and IP address are connected. This makes it easier for computers and other devices with internet capabilities to identify your website, find its location and establish a path to access it.

Web host

To make your website available for all to see, you need a web host, or sometimes referred to as a web-hosting service. Web hosts store all the pages and images that make up your website in web host servers. The host’s servers are connected to the internet 24/7 with redundant power, internet connection and backups of your website content.

The web host makes your website available to computers and mobile devices connected to the internet. When a web user types your domain into a browser‚Äôs address field, the IP address is located, and your website appears. The key to selecting a good web host is its ‚Äúuptime‚ÄĚ and tech support because the reliability of your web-hosting service determines how often your website is offline and unavailable.

DNS and DNS host

DNS stands for ‚Äúdomain name system.‚ÄĚ DNS hosts locate the IP address of the domain of your website or email settings. DNS settings control how someone connects to the server that hosts your website and also ensure that your domain name points to your website and email. Typically, you can access your DNS settings through your DNS host. Your DNS host is most often your domain registrar.

As you can see, all these terms are related but different. Most are dependent on each other for you to electronically connect with clients. Getting a better handle on these tech terms will make you smarter. In the long run, it will also help you better serve your clients.

This contributing article is from the Tech Helpline, a service of the WRA, and is authored by Melissa Mazanec-Becker. 

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