by Tory Terrill, Digital Strategy Analyst
When you think about a website, what are the most important, stand-out features that come to mind?
You think about the images you can see, the text you can read, the buttons you can click and if it’s successful enough, the products (or services) you can buy from it. In its simplest form, a website is just a bunch of pages of code. The code makes up the design, layout, and organization of those pages. But remember, a website won’t be seen by most users without a domain and a server.
Without a domain and a publicly-accessible server, a website is most likely useless.
If a domain name is like a physical street address, an IP address is like the GPS coordinates. They both point to a specific place, but a street address is the way most people communicate the location of a destination.
A domain name is the “address” of your website. Consider the benefits of having a home mailing address—people are able to send you letters and packages, and ultimately engage with you using your address as an identifier or signal. In the same vein, domains help users find the specific websites they’re searching for. Each domain is linked to its own unique IP address( Internet Protocol Number). IP addresses are a series of numbers assigned to individual computers. Domain names communicate with other IP addresses, and rather than typing in a bunch of hard to remember numbers, domains provide users with an easy way to reach a website. Using our same example from before, it’s much harder to register and remember the latitude and longitude coordinates of a location, take Momentic Marketing’s, 43.034605, -87.905853, than remembering Momentic’s physical address 318 N Milwaukee St, Milwaukee, WI 53202. The same thing holds true for domains and IP addresses. For those that are searching for an SEO agency, momenticmarketing.com is much easier to remember than its IP address, 22.214.171.124.
It’s simple to buy a domain name, and anyone can buy one. The easiest way to purchase a domain name is to visit a domain name registrar, such as GoDaddy, BlueHost, or HostGator. Registrars allow you to purchase domain names that haven’t been bought yet, and you’ll likely pay a monthly or annual fee.
To learn more about domain-names or how to purchase a domain name, we recommend visiting wpbeginner as a good place to start.
If a domain name is like a physical street address and an IP address is like GPS coordinates, a web server is like the mailbox.
Here’s what the relationship between a client side application, an HTTP request, an HTTP response, a browser and a web server looks like:
The client side application (your computer, you, what you type in, this is all what’s considered the client, or client side application) requests specific information pertaining to your search (known as an HTTP request) from a web browser (think Google Chrome, Safari or Mozilla Firefox). Then, your browser takes your request to the server. The server then takes that HTTP request, collects all the data it needs to fulfill that request, sends it back through the browser using an HTTP response. Your browser then provides you with the ability to see a website and interact with it.
Here are two examples of how these dynamics would be at play in other real-life, non-technical scenarios:
Let’s say you walk into a restaurant and sit down at a table. You are the client (or client side application). A waiter comes up to you to take your order (the waiter is the browser). The waiter writes down exactly what you want (the HTTP request) and takes your order to the kitchen. The cooks, or the web servers, prepare your meal, or your data, and give it back to the waiter to return to you. The waiter brings your meal back to your table (the HTTP response), and you, the client, are able to consume your meal, or your data.
Consider the way people used to sign up for magazine subscriptions as an analogy, where you receive a magazine subscription form in the mail, fill out the form and send it back to the magazine company. In this scenario:
Hosting companies, like GoDaddy, not only provide you with a domain name, but provide you with a way to host your site. While a web server is what communicates with your browser to offer you the data you’re looking for, web hosting is a service that provides people with the ability to put their website on the World Wide Web. Without a web hosting service, a web server will never present your website to prospective customers because the web server won’t have access to it.
Whether you have coding knowledge or not, anyone can create a website using a Content Management System (CMS). A CMS is an application that allows users to build and manage their own websites, with little to no coding experience. WordPress, Squarespace, and Virb are examples of common CMSs.
Uploading your content into your designed theme is the first step to creating a website that drives traffic to and engagement with your target audience. Learn how to build a bridge to your new website with SEO, and ensure your website is seen in search results.
Interested to learn more about how we can help you with your SEO efforts? Contact a Momentic expert.