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What’s in a Domain Name – Sub, Second-Level, Top-Level, &amp…

A domain name is defined as, “the part of a network address that identifies it as belonging to a particular domain” and refers to the name of a website. In further simplified terms, your domain name is your web address, which is the link where your website lives. Your domain name marks your place on the internet. It is your brand, your website link, your digital footprint, and more.

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. The website you’re searching for is typically located on servers that are not local to you. The URL, or website address, tells the web browser how to locate the information you are looking for. The browser navigates to the provided URL and lands on the domain name and web address that you have indicated. Without having a domain name, you could not have a web address, and therefore you would have nothing to navigate to!

As you likely know, a domain name is essential to your online presence. Without it – where do your customers land? How do they find your website? What do you place on ads, business cards, or social media posts to drive interest, traffic, and acquisition? 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 easy options to market your business or brand to your customers. If you’re looking for any information on domain names – what a domain name is, why you need a domain name, all the different types of domain names – then you’re in the right place!

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 a, the “myblog” section would be a subdomain, the “wordpress” section would be the Second-Level Domain and the “.COM” would be the Top-Level Domain. Hover offers over 300 Top-Level Domains so that 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 and decide to operate a blog on a subdomain, your domain would read as 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 (ever land on an This happens when a company has design 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 domain name by owning
To allow for differentiation in design or branding. Subdomains are great for landing pages or for section of your website which 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 separate design, look, and feel from the rest of what you put out.

What is a Second-Level Domain?

The Second-Level Domain is the domain below the Top-Level Domain and is located the left of the extension you use. When you’re browsing for a domain name on Hover, you’re naming the Second-Level Domain to pair with a Top-Level Domain that Hover offers. While Top-Level Domains are restricted to a finite number of options, Second-Level Domains are near endless in selection. Your Second-Level Domain 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, or TLD, is a term you may have come across before when 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, or gTLD, refers to domain extensions that are generic in nature. These domain extensions are often common, recognizable, and have little 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. An example of a few gTLDs that Hover offer 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 300 domain extensions for the domain name you have in mind. We can guarantee that 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, or ccTLD, refers to domain extensions that are region- or country-specific. These domain extensions inform Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) and users that your services are based out of the region or targets the region you have designated in your ccTLD. There are a few ccTLDs, such as .IO, .ME, and .TV, that Google treats as a gTLD in search.

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. As well, .CO, used by many companies, is actually Columbia’s ccTLD. These specific ccTLDs do not have restrictions on use, hence their widespread adoption.

What is a Sponsored Top-Level Domain, or sTLD?

A Sponsored Top-Level Domain, or 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 type of Top-Level Domains. The sTLDs listed below are specific to the United States.

The .GOV domain, which is only in use 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.

There are a lot of things to consider when getting a domain name for your business, organization, brand, or for personal use. When you’re beginning to explore what to wish to accomplish for your brand online, those answers can help you generate an idea for a domain name. Don’t forget to share your awesome Hover domain with us on Hover’s social!

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