The beginner's guide to web hosting and domain names

When setting up your own website or hiring someone to set it up for you, a domain name and hosting are necessary to place your website on the world wide web. This page explores what domain names and web hosting are, why you need them, and the process you go through to obtain them.  

What is a domain name?

A domain name is how people know where to find you on the internet. It is the address of your website that your customers will type into the browser URL bar. A domain name is usually the name of your business followed by the domain name extension or namespace. Some examples of namespaces used by small businesses in Australia:

  • .com derived from the word commercial and intended for commercial organisations
  • reserved for registered Australian businesses
  • another namespace for Australian businesses

As of 12 April 2021 a new set of rules apply to all .au domain names. If you meet the requirements and want to register a domain name, you will need to first check if the domain name is available and then purchase it from a web hosting provider (eg. Netregistry, GoDaddy).

Domain privacy protection

Once you have registered a domain name, your personal information is saved in the public WHOIS registry. To protect your personal data and keep these details hidden, you can purchase domain privacy protection, an add-on service provided by all hosting companies.  

Web hosting

Web hosting is the service you pay to make your website accessible to users on the internet.

Most web hosting providers package domain names together with hosting and offer affordable monthly or yearly subscriptions. Packages vary in offerings and price depending on the amount of space you need for your website and the amount of data your website can transfer to your users within a given amount of time (ie. bandwidth).

Hosting providers may offer plans with ‘unlimited’ storage or data transfer. These types of plans are more suited to small websites that do not require a lot of space or do not get a lot of traffic (ie. visits). Unlimited plans are usually sufficient for small businesses.

Disclaimer: Council is not affiliated with any of the providers listed here. It is your responsibility to research the options and select the one that best meets your business needs.

Last updated 30 March 2021


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