Think of a website. Do you know why you can think of a website? Because it has a title, a name. This title isn’t just something that goes onto the web page itself, but something that goes into the URL, or address, of the site.
If you want a site, you’ll want to name it. Whether it’s for your business, a potential business, a personal blog, or even if you’re investing in bulk purchases of domains, everyone has an interest in finding good names for their websites.
How do you do this? You go to a company called a domain name registrar, and you pay them to make sure a particular name is registered with you. You become the owner of that domain for as long as you’re paying for it, however the terms of the contract work out.
A domain name registrar is exactly what it sounds like: it’s an organization that manages the registration of domain names. To be official, a registrar has to be accredited by a generic top-level domain registry—don’t confuse the two—and a registrar will operate in accordance with the registry.
Registries are an article for a different time, but briefly: registries are databases of domain names and all the information of the people who registered them. Registries are managed by an organization called ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), which is a huge deal for domain registration.
Basically, you can only register from companies that have been accredited by ICANN. This won’t narrow things down for you, because there are still a lot of ICANN-accredited options.
So now we know what a domain name registrar is.