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How the .IO Game Phenomenon Went Viral

Many country code top-level domains (think .BZ or .ME) are used for domains that have nothing to do with the geographic location those TLDs are associated with. The same is true for the .IO domain extension, which geographically belongs to the British Indian Ocean territory. But instead of the region, the phenomenon of .IO games may be what is most associated with the TLD.

That’s because, like tech companies, Internet gaming companies have adopted the .IO top-level domain wholesale. Countless online games are hosted on .IO domains, catering to millions of online gamers from across the globe.

So, How Did .IO Games Become Part of Internet Gaming?

The .IO gaming phenomenon started in April 2015 with the launch of Agar.io, an online multiplayer game inspired by the behavior of microbes. In Agari.io, players are engaged in an eat-or-be-eaten scenario. They navigate a map to find food and gain in size, eventually becoming large enough to begin consuming the smaller cells of other players, while having to evade threats from larger-celled players.

Agar.io’s original popularity was based on its simple but tense gameplay mechanics. But the game only truly became viral once it was picked up by renowned Internet gaming streamers on Twitch and Youtube.

Most notably, Internet celebrity PewDiePie fell in love with the game. He shared numerous Agar.io videos with his 100 million YouTube subscribers, with some videos gaining more than 8 million views.

This became the spark for lighting the .IO game fuse. In the year after the launch of Agar.io, the phrase “.IO games” became the top gaming search term in the U.S., and more and more online games started to register .IO domains. The popularity of these games continues unabated, fueled primarily by their accessibility. They are free to play and available via any web browser. Requiring only a basic Internet connection, .IO games run on virtually any device, old or new. Large production houses have entered the industry, creating high-quality and engaging games in multiple genres to cater to an ever-growing community of millions of players.

As PewDiePie realized, these simple games are also popular passive entertainment, with annual views of streams numbering on YouTube and Twitch in the billions. Some of the most popular games are generating daily revenues of more than $100,000 through premium content and ad revenues. From indie developers to powerful production powerhouses, the entire creative gaming community has a stake in the ongoing success of .IO games. This can only be a win for players, who can continue to expect high-quality and engaging gameplay at zero cost. As long as this trend remains strong, these games will continue to expand their reach.

 

Edward Jones

Edward Jones is a technology writer, editor, and communications manager. He has written more than 300 articles for globally renowned technology companies and publications, including Microsoft, IBM, and LifeHacker.

Do I Really Need “WWW” in My URL?

Putting “WWW” in your URL—is it necessary? In short, no.

But to maximize your website’s search performance and ease of access for users, you’ll want to set things up so it works with or without those three letters using a specific method.

WWW Used to be Popular

As commonplace as the Internet and websites are now, not too long ago, these were new things that many of us had a hard time wrapping our heads around. As Rich Adams writes, seeing .COM beside a word was not enough to signify that a word or phrase was a domain name that could be accessed on the Internet.

“In the early days of the Internet, if you’d seen something like ‘jurassicpark.com’ on the bottom of a movie poster, it wouldn’t have been obvious what it was. Is it the name of the production company? Adding the WWW to the beginning made it immediately obvious to everyone that this was something to do with the Internet or World Wide Web.”

As people became more accustomed to typing and clicking on URLs, seeing .COM or .NET or any other top-level domain became enough to indicate that something was a domain name on the Internet. Just seeing example.com, people understood that there was an implied WWW. at the beginning of it. Soon they discovered that if they left out the WWW. altogether, in most cases, they could still access the intended website.

What Does the WWW in a URL Mean?

Then what is the difference between a URL with WWW and without? Is there a point of including WWW. if most sites will load without it? Actually, there is.

The WWW. in a domain name is an example of a subdomain or third-level domain and was initially used to distinguish the website of a domain from any other elements of that domain. For example, a website administrator would set up FTP for an FTP server or MAIL for an email server that were useful for the domain owner but of no use for the general public. As websites have grown, there are now common, public-facing subdomains like SHOP and HELP.

Today, it’s in your site’s best interest to ensure that your domain works with or without the WWW. You’ll need to configure it properly so it works whether a user types www.yoursite.com or yoursite.com. To do this, you’ll need to set up a 301 redirect. There are a number of reasons why this is important.

Should I Have WWW in My URL?

If your intended main homepage is www.yoursite.com and someone types yoursite.com, a 301 redirect will forward them along to www.yoursite.com instead.

For those who type www. to get to your website, it can be very easy to accidentally miss a w or two. To account for these scenarios, it’s best practice to also use 301 redirects to send people who enter w.yoursite.com or ww.yoursite.com to your main site as well.

Search Engine Performance

301 redirects are perhaps even more crucial for search engines. Without a 301 redirect, search engines will crawl both yoursite.com and www.yoursite.com as two distinct websites. Since all of the content is the same, it will penalize both sites in search results—something you definitely don’t want! A 301 redirect will tell search engines to ignore one of the sites and to give all of the ranking authority to the intended website.

Using WWW for Cookies

You might also need WWW if you use cookies for your website. Without WWW., a cookie will be placed on a visitor’s device when accessing yoursite.com. Since this cookie applies to the main domain, it will also apply to whatever subdomains they access as well. In other words, the cookie will not be able to distinguish between blog.yourdomain.com, pricing.yourdomain.com or contact.yourdomain.com. This means it will make it difficult for you to track what your visitors are doing when they come to your site.

When using WWW, you can apply a unique cookie to that subdomain and any other subdomains your website contains. This allows you to track whether a person has viewed your main page, pricing page, contact page and so on, giving you a better picture of how they have interacted with your site. If this is important to you, you’ll want to set up a 301 redirect so that yoursite.com forwards to www.yoursite.com in order to have more accurate tracking.

How to Create a 301 Redirect

If you’ve got some technical know-how in the webmaster department, you may be able to create a 301 redirect yourself. Otherwise, you’ll want to contact your domain registrar or hosting company. Note that website forwarding may not be the same as a 301 redirect.

So, Do You Need to Use WWW?

Technically, you do not need to use www. in your domain in order for your site to load properly. But, if any of the scenarios mentioned in this article apply to you, you’ll probably want to use www. in the domain. Whatever you choose, at least you don’t have to say “double-you double-you double-you” every time you tell someone your domain name. Your goal is to make sure that whether they type it or not, they’re able to find you.

Why Tech Startups Love to Use .IO Domains

The popularity of .IO domains for tech startups has surged in recent years. Why? In part, because it’s a great way to instantly establish your emerging brand as a tech company.

The .IO domain meaning has actually evolved over time. Tech enthusiasts adopted .IO as a nod to input/output, giving the ccTLD—which was originally assigned to represent the British Indian Ocean Territory—a personality all its own. And, much as .TV domains helped to quickly establish properties as television shows in the past, choosing a .IO domain helps instantly signify to anyone seeing your URL that you’re in tech. It’s a great branding play that costs very little but packs a big punch.

Here are five more reasons startups love .IO:

1. Greater availability of .IO domains

People have been registering .com domains for more than a quarter century. Of the more than 350 million active domains on the internet, about half of them are .COMs—meaning there’s a good chance you can’t get a concise domain for your startup. Or, you might have to pay a high price to secure ownership from an earlier registrant. Although .IO has been around for years as well, popularity has only surged recently.

2. .IO domain names have an ease of use

About half of all email use is on mobile devices. When someone is typing your email address for the first time on their phone, every character counts. An .IO domain often allows startups to get shorter, simpler domains and email addresses, lessening the chance of someone creating a typo. Name@company.io is a lot easier to get right than Name@companyplusanotherword.com!

3. .IO domain names have a community

Just as a .IO domain signifies a branding play, it also cements a startup among a community of other tech founders. It says, “I’m proud to be part of the tech startup world.” Many founders opt for a .IO simply for this reason. When companies search for their domain name and their .COM or first choice isn’t available, they are switching to .IO for this reason: .IO FOMO!

4. Creativity is unleashed with a .IO domain name

Many entrepreneurs whose companies have other TLD websites still register .IO domains to use as “hacks,” or creative ways to shorten their URLs. During the 2016 presidential campaign, candidate Marco Rubio used rub.io for this purpose. Lots of creative marketers have created URLs from words ending in .IO. (Looking for inspiration? Here’s a complete list of .IO words sure to excite any Scrabble player!)

5. Wide search engine recognition with your .IO domain name

Several ccTLDs (country code top-level domains, or domains originally designated by geography) are treated as territory-specific by Google and other search engines, hampering SEO efforts. However, Google treats .IO as a gTLD (generic top-level domain), meaning .IO websites get the same treatment as other widely used, global domains with the benefit of a more creative extension.

The bottom line, a strong .IO is a great bet for your tech startup. Don’t wait to register yours: thousands of founders secure .IO domain names every day, meaning your perfect domain could be gone tomorrow.

BRITTANY HODAK

Brittany Hodak is an international keynote speaker and award-winning founder. Entrepreneur calls her an “expert at creating loyal fans for your brand” and she is widely regarded as the go-to source on customer engagement and retention. She is a Guinness World Record Holder who’s been named to Advertising Age’s 40 Under 40 list, Inc.’s 30 Under 30 list, and Billboard’s 30 Under 30 list.

Brittany is co-founder of The Superfan Company, a multi-million dollar fan engagement company that has created successful campaigns and products for globally known brands such as Walmart, Disney, Amazon, Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, the Boston Red Sox and many more.

How to Start a Podcast In Seven Days

You don’t have to be a seasoned writer, an exceptional photographer or an expert videographer to make a podcast. If you’re wondering how to start a podcast, all you need is proper planning, some affordable equipment, great content and a clever marketing strategy. 

Whether you’re an individual or a business looking to build your brand, podcasts are something you should consider adding to your content marketing mix. 

Podcasts have been around for more than a decade now and have made their way into mainstream digital content. As of Jan 2021, there are over 1,750,000 podcast shows in the world.

It’s no wonder they’re so popular; podcasts are easy to consume on the go, require no screen time, and allow listeners to be in control of what they consume.

Best of all—unlike radio or video content—they’re inexpensive and easy to create. Hover’s here to help you learn how to start your own podcast in seven days or less.

Pro Tips for Starting a Podcast

1. Podcast Planning Basics

Topic

The topic of your podcast should be a combination of your passion and expertise, something that gives you enough to talk about substantially for a few episodes. 

It also needs to be something people want to listen to and a quick search on Google or Apple Podcasts will tell you how popular your theme might be. 

For instance, if you want to start your own podcast about travel, you can look at search volumes for travel-related keywords or explore popular podcasts within your niche on podcatching platforms.

Format

There’s no right format for podcasts but you can experiment with a few initially, then stick to one that best suits you and your listeners. If you’re hosting your podcast solo, you can choose to talk about topics that you are passionate and knowledgeable about, such as technology, food, or fashion. 

If you’re creative, you can use the narrative or storytelling style. Such podcasts are extremely popular, especially in genres such as romance, horror, true crime, and Sci-Fi. 

If you want to involve other parties, you can find a co-host or invite people for interviews.

Length

If this is your first podcast, you must make sure that you give your listeners enough substance while also holding their attention. Start with podcast episodes that are at 20 minutes to one hour in length. You can gradually increase or decrease the duration based on your listeners’ response.

Artwork

Your cover art is your podcasts’ only visual identity and plays an indispensable role in your branding. It must be something that reflects the general theme and mood of your podcast. Above all, it needs to look professional, so consider hiring a designer to come up with your cover art if you’re not a design expert yourself.

Name

Finding a name for your podcast can be tricky as you definitely want something unique that catches people’s attention. But if you’re a new podcaster, you should pick a name that is explanatory enough to let people know what your podcast is about. To maintain consistency in branding, you should check if your name is available for use as a domain name and on social media before you register it.

2. Getting a domain name

Most people will come across your podcast on podcasting platforms such as Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud, or Pocket Casts. But these are not platforms where you can register your podcast name. 

The best way to do that is by registering a domain name for it, whether you’re creating a separate website for it altogether or hosting it on your existing website.

A unique domain name for your podcast can give your promotion efforts a major boost by reinforcing your brand. 

For instance, let’s say that your name is Stan and you have a travel podcast called Travel with Stan. Consider these two domain names: www.hostwebsite.com/travelwithstan and www.travelwithstan.online The latter gives your podcast its own identity and gives listeners the impression that you mean business. 

The former, on the other hand, is doing more to promote the host website.

When choosing your domain name:

  • Try to match it as closely as possible to the name of your podcast, just as in the example mentioned above. This helps build brand recognition, which is especially important when you’re just starting out. 
  • Keep it short and simple to make it easier to communicate. Let it be no longer than three to four words or 20 characters. Avoid using confusing elements such as numbers, special symbols, or modified slang spellings.
  • Keep it relevant to your topic, enough for people to know what your podcast is about when they come across its domain name.
  • Consider new domain extensions to give it more context, such as www.standecodes.tech, www.newsviews.press or www.officehumour.fun.

3. Technical Aspects of Podcasting

You don’t need to be an audiophile or a sound-editing genie to create a podcast. With some basic equipment, a quiet setting, and simple editing software, you can create a high-quality podcast right in your bedroom or your office. 

There are a few things that you’ll need.

Microphone

You can record your podcast on your phone’s or computer’s built-in microphones but they are seldom equipped to deliver the kind of audio quality that your listeners will expect. All you need is a simple USB microphone that can connect to your recording device. A few reasonable options include the Samson Q2U Podcasting Pack, the Heil PR 40 and the Blue Yeti.

Photo by ConvertKit on Unsplash

Headset

To further improve audio quality, make sure that every speaker has their own headset to keep disturbance from audio feedback to a minimum. We recommend the Audio-Technica BPHS1, the Sennheiser HMD 300 Pro, and the Cooler Master MH752.

Podcasting Software

There is a host of software to record and edit audio for podcast creation to choose from based on your skill level. But even simple software will have the features you need to put together a podcast recording. If you’re struggling to figure them out, there are several YouTube videos to guide you. We recommend Audacity (which is free), Adobe Audition, and Alitu.

Room Settings

Small (to minimize echo) and quiet rooms are perfect for recording podcasts. Make sure that the room you record in is away from the street or your apartment building entrance and has windows and doors that shut properly to keep out the noise. If you live with other people, come up with a recording time that allows you to record in peace without others having to keep it down.

4. Podcast Hosting And Submitting

We’ve already established that you need a website with its unique domain name to upload your podcast before you submit it to podcatchers to be picked up by listeners. 

But you also need a podcast host where you can save all your audio files. Even if you already have a website hosted on a platform, you need a special media host for your podcast files as they tend to be quite heavy. Podcast hosting costs approximately $5-100 a month.

Depending upon the kind of podcast you’re planning to create, you may want to look out for storage capabilities, integration with other websites or platforms, audience analysis, and other features that the host offers. Popular and reasonable podcast hosts include:

  • Libsyn: $5-40 per month with features such as up to 800 MB storage, opt-in ad monetization management, and downloadable stats reporting.
  • PodBean: $0-99 per month for monetization support, a wide range of themes, and unlimited private podcasting channels.
  • Buzzsprout: $0-24 per month for two to 12 hours of upload each month, advanced stats, and unlimited storage.

Once you have your podcast uploaded and ready to go, you should try and submit it to as many podcatchers as possible. Getting it on Apple Podcasts, especially in its New & Noteworthy selection, is among the biggest wins your podcast can get. Other platforms you should explore are SoundCloud, Spotify, and Google Podcasts.

Photo by ConvertKit on Unsplash

5. Podcast Promotion and Growth

Every podcaster must aim to make it to Apple’s New & Noteworthy list. You need to increase your subscribers and reviews to be featured and you have only eight weeks after your launch to do so, which means you need to rope in as many listeners as you can find and as early on as possible. You should start creating a buzz about your upcoming podcast at least a few weeks before your official launch.

Social Media

Use paid promotions on Instagram and Facebook to ensure that your posts are reaching your target listeners. Create teaser posts with quotes, soundbites, and points to be covered, and post them with relevant hashtags. If you’re mentioning brands in your podcast, make sure you tag them to get their attention in the hope of cross-promotion.

Podcast Subscribers

Your subscribers are people who are already familiar with you or your brand, so it will be easy to persuade them to listen to your podcast. Send them an email announcing the launch date, a little summary of your podcast, and a link to its landing page (with your new domain name).

Promotion by Guests/Co-hosts

One of the many advantages of having guests or co-hosts on your podcast is greater exposure for your promotion initiatives. With co-hosts, it’s always better to mutually agreed-upon a promotional strategy. If you are inviting guests, asking them to promote the episode on their pages shouldn’t be too hard. You can make it easier for them by providing post material such as images, quotes, and status updates.

Getting Reviews for Your Podcast

People may love your podcast but that isn’t enough to make them write you a review or subscribe to your channel. You can, however, remind them by adding relevant calls-to-action at the end of each podcast episode. 

You should also make it a point to send a thank you email to your subscribers requesting them to share their feedback, with a link to your reviews page on Apple Podcasts. You can even reward your reviewers by giving them a shoutout on your future episodes.

Podcasting Like a Pro

Lastly, consider launching your podcast with at least three episodes to give listeners enough substance about your topic. Gaining listeners takes time and you want to convince people to keep coming back for more.

Sure, building a large and loyal audience for your podcast takes time and patience, but above all, it will require you to deliver high-quality content on a consistent basis.  

Podcasts are easy enough to create, but there is no substitute for interesting and informative content delivered with a professional look and feel. Don’t cut corners when it comes to researching your topic and purchasing equipment.

ALISHA SHIBLI – CONTENT MARKETING SPECIALIST, RADIX

Alisha is a Content Marketing Specialist at Radix, the registry behind some of the most successful new domain extensions, including .STORE and .TECH. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

Where To Find the Best Royalty-Free Media of Every Type

If you’re running an online business or are a creative with an online presence, engaging media is an absolute must. Perhaps it’s a video on your website highlighting your product, or simply stock images that align with your brand. Or maybe you’re a visual artist who occasionally does time-lapse videos of your painting and posts them to social media. Whatever the case may be, royalty-free media is something that you should get familiar with.

Why is royalty-free media so important? Well, you’ve made an excellent investment getting the equipment to create your main type of media or hiring professionals to do it for you. However, that blog post you’re writing is going to need relevant photos and your YouTube video will feel pretty flat without any background music, as will your podcast. The Internet is no longer the Wild West where you could just slap any image or song into your work, throwing copyright to the wind. Paying royalties every time a song is used or getting extended licenses to use copyrighted work can be expensive.

What Are Royalties?

First of all, what are royalties? In the simplest of terms, royalties are payments made to the creator or copyright owner of applicable works. If you’re paying royalties on media included in your work, in many cases the more popular your work is, the more you’ll have to pay.

That’s why every creative and entrepreneur should have a source of good, royalty-free media. To make sure your multimedia is up to par (and to keep you out of copyright jail, which we hear is totally a thing), here are some of the best places to get royalty-free music, royalty-free images, free icon packs and more.

Royalty-Free Music

If you’re going to get in trouble for unlicensed use of media, this is most likely where it’ll happen. The main reason you need royalty-free music: YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and other social media sites have advanced algorithms that quickly recognize copyright infringement. At best, the music will be removed; at worst, you’ll have a legal team knocking on your (virtual) door. The easiest solution is free royalty-free music. Sure, you won’t have Beyonce backing up your latest vid, but you can find the right style and mood through any good, free music archive. Note that not all royalty-free music is free to purchase, but the licenses offered on these sites for premium music are usually pretty inexpensive.

Free Music Archive

Don’t pretend you’re not impressed by that segue. Freemusicarchive.org has been a repository of royalty-free music for over a decade. It very nearly bit the dust a couple of years ago due to lack of funding but has recently been relaunched, now offering both free music and premium tunes that can be purchased affordably. With over 100,000 songs on tap, this is a great resource to support.

Bensound

royalty free media music

This is one of the most popular places to find royalty-free music for videos, royalty-free music for podcasts or whatever your needs might be. It becomes a lot more impressive when you find out that the majority of the music, and there’s a lot, is created by one guy (spoiler: his name is Ben). He composes in every major genre from hip-hop to acoustic folk. If you do have a budget, bensound.com also offers different licenses depending on your planned use. If you’ll be using the music in a corporate arena, you’ll want to look into this.

YouTube Music Library

Don’t like new things? Now you’ll be able to add music to your YouTube videos without ever leaving YouTube. Their free repository is actually pretty good, with a host of music tracks and sound effects that are searchable by mood, genre, instrument and other categories.

Artlist

Free is great and all, but sometimes you need some truly premium tracks in order to compete with the corporate big boys but without the corporate pricetag. Artlist.io is the go-to for many vloggers and even professional digital media creators on a budget. There are no free downloads here, but there is a ton of high-quality yet affordable music and sound effect content for your next important project. Sites like Premium Beat and Audio Jungle offer a similar service.

Royalty-Free Video and Images

Bad news: that Google search for relevant images or video isn’t going to cut it anymore. We’re all hoping our media gets out to the widest possible audience, and if we succeed, those uncleared visuals are going to come back to haunt us. Even if your usage is for your personal projects and you hope to claim fair use in a non-commercial setting, it’s often not cut and dry. In a business setting, it’s imperative you don’t run into copyright issues, as having your media taken down as a result looks quite unprofessional. The good news is that it’s easier than ever to get royalty-free video and royalty-free images, some even free of charge.

Pexels

royalty free media videos

If you get a slight “too good to be true” feeling from pexels.com, you’re not alone. There’s no trickery here though, just beautiful HD footage that’s 100 percent free to use. You don’t even have to credit the source for the license to be valid. (But you’d be a lot cooler if you credited them anyway.) As icing on the cake, Pexels also offers great still images.

Pixabay

One of the best-known sources of royalty-free still images, pixabay.com also has a pretty solid collection of royalty-free video clips as well. Unlike Pexels, there are a few 4k options to choose from as well. Everything is free for both personal and commercial use.

Videvo

Where the above sites shine most in terms of video quality, videvo.net may be the way to go when the quantity of clips to choose from is more important. Don’t get us wrong, there’s great high-quality stuff here as well, but within their massive library, you’ll also come across more amateurish footage. Still, with thousands of community-sourced videos, you’re likely to find one that suits your project perfectly here.

Free Royalty-Free Image Sites

Royalty-free image sites are the best-known type of royalty-free media, so rather than introduce you to names you likely already know, we’ll outline which may be the best bet for your particular uses. Use Unsplash when quality is of the utmost importance because you’ll only find beautiful shots by talented amateur and professional photographers here. Everything can be downloaded and used free of charge whether for personal or commercial use. Pixabay may have shots of varying quality, but with nearly 2 million images to choose from, your chances of finding a fit are pretty good. There is one site we’d like to highlight though…

Rawpixel

Rawpixel.com stands out from the pack because it is clearly geared toward graphic designers and other creatives needing a bit more from their royalty-free images. The media here is incredibly diverse, consisting of both free and paid options. There’s a wealth of illustrations, vector images, and other visuals that designers will find useful. There are also intuitive filtering options to help you find exactly what you need. The personal use and commercial use subscriptions that give you access to everything on the site are surprisingly affordable as well. 

Paid Royalty-Free Image Sites

If you’ve often needed to procure very specific, great quality photos, you’ll know that the paid sites have a distinct advantage here. Image repositories like Adobe Stock, Shutterstock and iStock have hundreds of millions of professional-looking images to choose from. Single photo purchases won’t break the bank, but if you regularly need royalty-free photos, a subscription will quickly pay for itself.

Icon Packs 

Icons are an often overlooked type of royalty-free media. Whether we’re talking cutesy illustrations, company logos or country flags, icons are often needed for design work, websites or other professional web presences and personal media projects. Scouring the net for a decent Spotify logo to add to your “Streaming Now” post or icons for your links section is a thing of the past thanks to icon pack websites. 

Flaticon

This usually ends up being our one-stop-shop for icons. Flaticon.com has nearly 80,000 quality icon packs. You’ll have to pay for some of them, but many of those most of us are likely to use are free of charge and only require that you credit the creator. 

Iconfinder

This freakishly large collection of icons and icon packs is another one that deserves a bookmark. The filter tool iconfinder.com uses is very intuitive and helps speed up your search. Like Flaticon, many of the icons are vector images and can be edited to suit your needs. 

Hover Gives Your Media the Perfect Home

The starting point for your media-rich web presence is, of course, the perfect domain name. For a memorable domain that fits you or your brand to a T, look no further than Hover. We have over 400 top-level domains (aka “extensions” like .com or .net), so your chances of finding an available domain you love are much higher. We offer flexible email options and numerous integrations with services designed to help you succeed. Unlike many other domain registrars, we offer free WHOIS protection to safeguard your privacy. Find your perfect domain today!

What’s in a Domain Name: Sub, Second-Level, Top-Level and Country Code Domains

In the simplest terms, your domain name is your web address—the link where your website lives. Your domain name marks your place on the Internet. It’s not just your website link; it’s your online brand and unique digital footprint. If you’re interested in getting your own domain name, you may want to get familiar with URLs and how the periods in them define domain levels.

Fun Fact: Oftentimes, a website link will be referred to as a URL, which is a Universal Resource Locator. This name implies that the files it’s locating (such as a website) are not on your computer, but located elsewhere. Typically, the location of your website is one of your hosting company’s servers. The URL tells the web browser how to locate the relevant information. So without a domain name, you could not have a URL, and therefore there would be nothing to navigate to!

Interestingly, you need a domain name in order to publish your website, but you do not need a website in order to have a place for your domain name to redirect or forward to. A domain name provides you with a number of options to market your business or brand to your customers as well as stay in contact with them. Here’s everything you need to know about the wonders that are domain names!

What Are All the Parts of a Domain Name?

There are three parts to a domain name: a subdomain, a second-level domain, and a top-level domain. For example, if you currently own myblog.wordpress.com, the “myblog” section would be a subdomain, the “wordpress” section would be the second-level domain (SLD) and the “.com” would be the top-level domain (TLD). Hover offers over 300 top-level domains so you have an endless selection of domain names to own.

parts of domain name tld

What Is a Subdomain?

A subdomain is related to the main or root domain and is the portion to the left of your second-level domain. If you own your own domain, such as myexample.org and decide to operate a blog on a subdomain, your domain would read as blog.myexample.org. Sometimes you will see subdomains referred to as “third-level domains.”

Subdomains are often used:

  • When companies pursue entirely separate mobile websites – A subdomain is often used in this instance (ever land on an m.website.com?). This happens when a company has initially designed and built a website that was not responsive or mobile-friendly. When Google’s push for mobile-first in ranking took place, many companies built out mobile websites to comply.
  • When a company operates a platform that their user base builds off of – For example, WordPress users may or may not wish to buy a separate domain name for their blog and therefore, must build their creation off of WordPress’s second-level domain name, for example, theirbrand.wordpress.com.
  • To allow for differentiation in design or branding – Subdomains are great for landing pages or for sections of your website that could stand on their own, such as a blog or shop. Many content creators, such as those on YouTube, have merchandise stores that are part of their brand, but not elemental to it. Having that section live on a subdomain attaches it to your brand, while allowing you the freedom to have a separate design, look, and feel from the rest of your content.

That image above isn’t a mistake; “www” is a subdomain as well. As you’ve no doubt noticed, it’s not strictly necessary to enter it before your second-level and top-level domains to get to a website. However, there are considerations you should know about with respect to “www” and your website.

What Is a Second-Level Domain or an SLD?

A second-level domain (SLD) is the domain below the top-level domain and is located to the left of the extension you use. When you’re browsing for a domain name on Hover, you’re in the process of naming the SLD to pair with one of the many TLDs that Hover offers. While top-level domains are restricted to a finite number of options, the possibilities for second-level domains are nearly endless. Your SLD is a great space for your brand name, product name, or your own name!

What Is a Top-Level Domain or a TLD?

Top-level domain (TLD) is a term you may have come across before in the midst of your search for the perfect domain name. TLD is a fancy term for your domain name’s extension, which are the letters to the right of your second-level domain. An example of a domain name extension that you will recognize (unless you’re brand new to the Internet… where have you been?!) is .COM. The .COM portion of your entire URL is your top-level domain, which is shortened to TLD for ease. When we refer to TLDs, we are talking about the extension only.

What Is a Generic Top-Level Domain or a gTLD?

A generic top-level domain (gTLD) refers to domain extensions that are generic in nature. These domain extensions are often common, recognizable, and have few restrictions on the domain name in terms of applicability. That means that you can feel free to register any and all of them for your brand. Google recognizes them as generic in search results, as well. Examples of a few gTLDs that Hover offers are, .COM, .NET, .XYZ, and.ONLINE. Hover sells many (hundreds!) more—so get searching!

The new and niche gTLDs:

There are many new and unique gTLDs available. If you’re looking for a way for your brand or company to stand out, having a TLD that highlights the market you are in is an interesting way to attract your audience. For example, if you sell art, having a .ART domain name is a great alternative to typical extensions. If your company is an iOS or Android app, why not have a .APP domain name? Hover offers over 400 domain extensions for the domain name you have in mind. Nearly any extension you’re looking for to promote your brand can be found on Hover.

What Is a Country-Code Top-Level Domain, or ccTLD?

A country code top-level domain (ccTLD) refers to domain extensions that are specifically for regions or countries. These domain extensions inform search engine results pages (SERPs) and users that your services are either based out of the region or targeting the region you have designated in your ccTLD. There are a few ccTLDs, such as .IO, .ME, and .TV, which Google treats as a gTLD in search since they have been shown to be commonly used outside of that geographic area for other purposes. More on that below.

Be aware that many ccTLDs have language requirements, require your company to be headquartered in a certain location, or you must abide by their Internet/digital laws before you can use their ccTLD. For example, the .CA domain name extension is for Canada and has some restrictions. You must be a registered Canadian business or organization, a Canadian trademark holder, a citizen of Canada, have permanent residency in Canada, or otherwise qualify under the Canadian Presence Requirements.

ccTLDs are the only top-level domains not governed by ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which governs the Internet Protocol numbers and Domain Name System. Any country can enter the market with their own TLD. A ccTLD can be easily spotted as it is always a two-letter domain extension, such as .CA, .US, or .FR.

The widespread use of ccTLDs:

Some ccTLDs have experience widespread adoptions due to meaning and translation ability across many languages. For example, .ME is a popular domain extension people use for personal branding and portfolio-style websites, but is originally Montenegro’s ccTLD. .IO, the beloved extension of tech companies and startups, is the ccTLD for the British Indian Ocean Territory. Also, .CO, used by many companies, is actually Columbia’s ccTLD. These specific ccTLDs do not have restrictions on use, hence their widespread adoption.

A sponsored top-level domain (sTLD) is related to a very specific niche and does not allow use by general customers. There are a plethora of rules surrounding the registration and use of these types of TLDs. The sTLDs listed below are specific to the United States.

The .GOV domain can only be used by the American government. The .EDU domain is an extension that is only available to postsecondary education institutions and related organizations for registration. To be eligible to use this domain, the institution must be located in the United States, legally organized in the U.S., or recognized by a U.S. state, territorial, or federal agency.

Get Your Perfect Domain Name at Hover.com

There are a lot of things to consider when getting a domain name for your business, organization, brand, or for personal use. Ask yourself what you wish to accomplish for your brand online and consider all of the different options in regards to domain levels. The answer can help you come up with the perfect domain name.

Your next step should be to visit Hover.com. With over 400 TLDs, registering with Hover increases the chances you’ll be able to use your preferred domain name. You’ll also get free WHOIS privacy, flexible email options, and the ability to integrate your website with a number of helpful services. Don’t forget to share your awesome Hover domain with us on Hover’s social!

The Startup Guide: How to Start a Business or Side Hustle

At Hover, we know that starting a new business comes with big challenges. We’ve written a lot of content over the years that breaks these challenges down into smaller, more manageable, pieces. If you’re wondering how to start a business or you’re beginning a new side hustle, you’re in the right place.

Bookmark this page and refer to it as you get your small business off the ground. We’ve put together many articles to inspire and guide you on your journey and will update this page as we go forward.

Hover’s Small Business Startup Kit

Getting Started

The secret to success – Start with these solid tips aimed to mentally and physically prepare you for your incredible small-business journey. 

Bring your business online – A startup’s first steps and how Hover can help you along the way.

Starting a business during an economic slowdown – Advice on how to keep your startup thriving during an economic downturn.

Getting a domain: Reasons startups use new domain extensions – Build your website with a unique extension that reflects your business and brand personality.

Business Portfolios

Choosing a domain name for your portfolio – A list of things to consider when picking a domain name to best suit your goal.

Side Hustle Series: A sample portfolio from one of our very own! – An in-depth look at how a portfolio can attract potential clients and serve multiple purposes, as well as excellent tips related to growing a thriving side business.

Basic Startup Tools

50 cheap or free tools for creating your own website – A comprehensive list of all the most popular and helpful tools along with descriptions of what they are able to do to help you create or enhance your website. Also known as The Holy Grail.

How to design a website without technical skills – Running a business doesn’t allow a lot of extra time to learn everything about web design and tech. We’ve broken down some basics for you. 

Some of our favorite domain names in action – Check out how people are using the .SHOP domain to help their online retail business and get inspired to get to work on your own!

Where to find the best royalty-free media – From background music and photography to video, icons and web art, here’s the best royalty-free media around.

New Biz Branding

Online reputation management – Protect your business and online brand presence with these six simple steps.

Five ways a professional email address can boost your brand – Considering a professional email address? We break down why and how you should go about getting a unique email address for your business.

Marketing and personal branding examples – We look at some amazing, real small business owners who leveraged their personal brand to become industry leaders.

Creating a powerful personal brand – A successful personal brand doesn’t happen by accident – we came up with five steps to get you started.

Social Media and Marketing for Startups

Social media tips for growing your business – Startups and social media are made for each other. Here’s advice on building a strong social media presence without the overwhelm.

Target market research and defining your customer persona – Here’s how to find your target market in three easy steps.

Small business marketing tips – Budget-friendly tips on how to start a business and build a brand without breaking the bank.

Small Business Management

What to do when an employee leaves your business – A look at how to prepare for this inevitability. You’ll also learn how to prevent the loss of assets and knowledge before employees move on.

How to manage remote teams – Remote teams are no longer a thing of the past. We look at ways you can make it work for your business.

Small Biz Growth

How to know when it’s time to incorporate – Incorporating your small business is a big decision. We examine why it might be the right thing for your startup.

Start a membership club for your loyal customers – Reward your loyal customers by creating membership and loyalty programs.

Inspiration: Be Your Own Boss

Over the years, we’ve had the opportunity to witness small businesses grow and thrive on our platform. We even started a series on Being Your Own Boss to highlight these incredible businesses and their owners. We hope they inspire and motivate readers like you into action. 

Check them out and learn from those who’ve gone before you!

Primped Beauty App

Mnemonics Media

The Joy of Missing Out (JOMO) Movement

Misha De-Stroyev: Photographer and Entrepreneur

Perky Athletics

Fansaves INC

Canadaland Podcast

Good Good Good Newspaper and Podcast

Code Newbie

TechSquid TV

More articles from Hover

We’re always on the lookout for fresh topics and look forward to whipping up useful advice on how to start a business and how to make that new business grow and thrive. 

Bookmark this page—it’s updated with relevant small business content every time we publish a related piece on our main Hover blog—and we can continue to guide and support you on this incredible journey.

A .DESIGN Domain for Your Online Portfolio

If you’re a designer, you’ve probably chosen to specialize in a particular niche of the design industry. However, it’s good practice to zoom out every once in a while and let designers in other disciplines inspire you. In fact, the world of design offers inspiration to everyone: the quantity of widely-followed blogs and social media accounts about design attest to its popularity and resonance with professionals of all kinds. 

As a designer, you understand the importance of smart presentation. A top-level domain like .DESIGN makes it clear who you are and what you do, just from your domain name alone. It also adds a professional edge to your branding, business cards and email address. 

The professions that employ and inspire designers are extremely wide-ranging. This is because design itself is intertwined with the production, marketing and sales of any given product or service today. You can probably think of many broad categories like graphic design, digital design, architecture and industrial design. Let’s explore some subgenres and check out some great websites created by design experts. 

A graphic designer works on their tablet and laptop on a colorfully cluttered desk

Graphic Design

This is probably the default category that comes to mind whenever the average person imagines a designer. But graphic design is also one of the deepest and broadest categories of design, including everything from advertising agencies creating corporate brand identities to freelance artists and illustrators providing graphics and drawings. Graphic designers might even specialize in product packaging, print layouts for books and publications, trade show branding or typography. 

Designers understand the value of the digital space, even if they don’t work exclusively in it. Graphic designers can use a .DESIGN domain to leverage their brand identity, stand out from the crowd and carve out their own space online.

Check out this awesome website from the creative studio, This.Design, for an exciting glimpse at the possibilities within brand identity design. 

Digital Design

Digital designers create entire worlds—universes, even—inside their computers. Whether world-building as a video game designer, developing the perfect user flow as a UI or UX designer, modeling real-life spaces in 3D, or just perfecting the web design for a client, designers are working digitally now more than ever. 

Web and UI designer, Philip Ardeljan, created a portfolio at philip.design to showcase his work. Portfolio domains like Philip’s, which pair a first or last name with the design keyword, are especially strong.

Architectural Design

Design in the physical world encompasses every space we inhabit. Architects design our homes, offices and schools. Acoustic designers use physics to perfectly balance the sound inside a concert hall or mitigate sound bleed in mixed-use neighborhoods. Urban planners shape our civic spaces. Interior designers and interior decorators influence how a room makes us feel. Landscape architects design with the materials of the earth itself. 

While architects don’t label themselves as designers in their titles, many of the related fields and specialties do. The use of .DESIGN domains by specialized and full-service firms is widespread and logical. Architect One uses ao.design and sets a particularly strong example. 

Industrial Design

Safety, efficiency and accessibility are integral to industrial design. Industrial designers engineer the tools, fixtures and spaces that help all of us be productive and protected. Furniture designers, automotive designers, lighting designers, product designers and even engineers are all tied to industrial design. We particularly appreciate Marrow and MTC Design and Automotive for their use of the .DESIGN domain to highlight the artistry and design behind their craft.

Lifestyle Design

Our style is a reflection of our individuality, but most of us (knitters aside—looking at you atimetoknit.design!) do not make our clothing or accessories by hand. Instead, we choose from the options created by talented designers who develop unique aesthetics. From fashion design to floral arranging, jewelry design to textiles, these designers use their domain name and web presence to show the skills they’ve developed and the evolution of their practice. Retail stores like CANOE use .DESIGN domains to showcase their products and offer a digital shopping experience. 

Specialized Design 

Many of the most fascinating design niches are highly specialized. Take sound design: imagine how disappointing an action film or video game would be without the thrilling sound effects created by studios like Booster Sound. In the world of film and theater, costume designers bring stories to life in a profound way. Designer Kym Barrett, who worked on Romeo + Juliet, The Matrix, and Charlie’s Angels, created kymbarrett.design to showcase her work and what she’s capable of delivering. And for concerts, festivals, trade shows, and other large-scale events, specialists like durant.design create immersive experiences that wow the audience. 

Get a .DESIGN Domain For Your Business

While there are countless design categories, there is one platform all designers have in common. The Internet is an indispensable tool for designers to showcase their creativity and build connections. That’s why designers’ personal websites are reliably so sophisticated—and why designers are enthusiastic about innovative top-level domains like .DESIGN. 

No matter your design specialty, your work deserves a domain name that is as unique and expressive as you are. Find your domain name to see how it would look with a descriptive top-level domain like .DESIGN or buy it from Hover now (it’s on sale!). 

 

DAVID GOLD

David Gold is a Content Marketing Specialist at Top Level Design, the registry for .DESIGN, .GAY, .WIKI and .INK. David is passionate about developing creative strategies for making the Internet a more expressive and inclusive space.

Introducing Volume Discounts on Domain Renewals

The more domains you have in your Hover account, the less you’ll pay to renew them.

Got multiple domains with Hover? Good news: once you have ten domains or more in your account, you’ll start to see discounts on your renewal fees. These volume discounts increase with the number of domains in your account, so the more you have, the more you’ll save.

There’s no promo code required, and the renewal discounts will apply automatically whether you let us renew the domain prior to expiry, or whether you choose to renew domains yourself manually at any time.

The discount tiers are as follows:

Domains in your Account Discount (off the renewal price/year)
10-24 $0.25
25-49 $0.50
50-99 $1.00
100-199 $2.00
200-299 $3.00
300-399 $4.00
400+ $5.00

Some Additional Details on Volume Discounts

In addition to these new volume discounts on renewals, Hover already offers a significant discount on most TLDs for transfers-in and also on quite a few TLDs for new registrations. And, unlike most other registrars, WHOIS Privacy protection is included on all domains that support it at no extra cost.

Multi-year new domain registrations are treated as multiple single year purchases. As a result, the discount would apply to all years after the first year that you have the required number of domains in your account. There’s no need to do single-year registrations and then come back right after and renew it manually; we’ve got that covered so you don’t miss out on any savings.

We’ve also got your back with respect to including any new domains in your domains total when doing those multi-year calculations. Let’s say you had 23 domains in your Hover account. Then you registered two more – the 24th and 25th domains. With a five-year registration, you’ll automatically get the 25-49 tier volume discount for years two through five on those domains.

Register with Hover

No matter how many domains you have, when you register with Hover you’ll get access to over 400 TLDs, affordable and flexible email options, and seamless integration with numerous services. Visit hover.com to get started.

A .GAY Domain Name for a Fierce Website

.GAY domains are new around here but that doesn’t mean there aren’t already some great contenders out there. Of course, this isn’t a contest but we thought we would round up some of our favorite uses of the .GAY domain name to inspire you to get out there and be seen. Let’s give these .GAYs a shout out for paving the way for a brand new space online. 

Here are some fierce new examples. We hope they inspire you to get out there.

.GAY Domains for Media, Blogs and Magazines

FTM.gay

FTM is a media hub that might, quite literally, have everything you’ve been looking for, including an advice section. Arts and culture, love and relationships, politics and social issues as well as pages devoted to sport and fashion… if we’ve forgotten something, FTM sure hasn’t. Using the .GAY domain cements them as a community hub and reminds visitors that this is their home.

.GAY Domains for Portfolios

Raksha.gay

A portfolio is your online gallery, business card and profile. It’s the face you serve in this digital world. Raksha Muthukumar is a queer activist, technologist, organizer and public speaker. Her portfolio highlights her strengths, motivations and goals and does double duty as her portfolio and podium.

.GAY Domains for Nonprofit and Fundraising

TheQueensGuard.gay

The Queen’s Guard is a community organization in rural Alaska that works to support the LGBTQI+ community by counteracting negative protests with peaceful demonstrations. Other great organizations include Pittsburgh.gay, a site built by a Pittsburgh LGBTQ organization to share community resources and Queer.ulm.gay, a digital community calendar and directory for LGBTQ organizations in Ulm, German. All these sites provide a wonderful array of helpful resources and provide a safe space online.

.GAY Domains for Podcasts

KosherQueers.gay

A podcast is an amazing way for your voice to be heard—and a podcast on a .GAY domain provides a home for your podcast where you can also be seen. Kosher Queers are talking all things queer and Jewish. In their words, Kosher Queer come together on a weekly basis with their “queer takes on Torah, jokes about Judaism and a thorough look at the parsha and haftarah.” This group of friendly faces and voices also takes on discussions of celebrity, family, relationships and fashion (plus so much more) with humor and youthful exuberance. 

.GAY Domains for Events

GayDays.gay

A website for an event or series of planned events is a genius way to make sure your guests have all the right details leading up to your event. Here we have a website for Gay Days at Disney World theme park where visitors can shop, find out news, get event details, buy tickets as well as see concert line ups and picture galleries. 

It’s Your Turn To Be Fierce

Now it’s time for you to get out there. Find your perfect .GAY domain name with Hover and start building your personal brand. It’s never too late to come out and be seen.