A friend of mine asked me this question as she was building herself a website. She had already picked right domain name, purchased it from GoDaddy, and her website lived elsewhere on the Wix platform.
To explain it to her I took this route:
First let’s think of both your domain and your website as separate entities. Your domain was purchased through a website registrar provider. In her case, that provider was “GoDaddy.” The process for her to purchase that domain was this. Every domain name is licensed through a nonprofit called ICANN. ICANN is a nonprofit made up of a board of directors from many different website hosting companies. Every domain purchase goes through a website domain provider, not ICANN. So a company like GoDaddy had to receive permission in order to “license” your domain to you when you purchased it.
Let’s look at your website now. Your website “lives” on an IP Address. This is technically also the URL you can type in to your browser to visit your website–it might not pull it up depending on your server’s settings–but you can try it. The IP Address is the physical location of the server that contains the files for your website. In my friend’s case this would be a Wix server.
So how does her domain connect to her website?
In short, a new “A” record needs to be created under the domain’s DNS management settings that points the domain to the IP address where the website lives. That sounds kind of like a mouthful, so lets break it down.
Your website’s domain contains many layers. First, is identifying where your domain’s nameservers are pointing. The place the nameserver’s point is where you will be able to manage your domain’s DNS (Domain Name System). It is possible that you could choose to manage your website domain from Wix or from GoDaddy. Either works and is acceptable.
To check out where your domain’s nameservers are pointing use this tool.
Once you know where your website’s nameservers are pointing, you can then go in and edit and modify records that instruct your domain how to operate. These records can be useful when setting up email for your domain, attaching an SSL certificate, or in my friend’s case, pointing a new “A record.” The A record is what points your domain to where your website lives on its IP address.
So to recap, a domain connects to a website via the domain registrar you purchased it from, followed by where the nameservers are pointing, and then the records that make up the DNS of your domain.
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