Registering a Domain Name for Your Website Choosing a domain name is not a simple decision. But, it is one of the most important choices you will make for your website. The domain name you choose has a huge impact on the direction of your website, your branding, your online and offline marketing, and even the direction your company takes.
Apart from deliberation of your domain name, a lot goes into the process of registering a domain name for your website. We’ll help guide you in the process of buying a domain, and give you some tools to get started on this important first step of diving into your own website.
Tips for Getting the Right Domain Name
When you embark on the adventure of buying a domain name, you have full control. Since you are paying for the domain name, be sure that it is exactly what you want before you finalize the registration. If you need help coming up with the perfect domain name for your business, look no further. We have you covered.
In all actuality, there is not a right nor a wrong domain name. You should focus more on which FLD (first-level domain) you want at the end of your URL. There are many options, ranging from .com and .net to .org and .me, to name a few.
First-level domains are also referred to as top-level domain names.This is not over-the-top, because they really are that important. They determine the purpose of your website. For example, .com distinguishes a website as belonging to a commercial entity, whereas .org denotes an organization with an online presence. Select the first-level domain that most accurately relates to your business and its purpose because this part of the domain holds definite significance.
If possible, you want to try to get a .com domain. Even in 2018 this is still the most recognizable and accepted of the first-level domain options (aside from .org and .gov which are also desireable if they are appropriate for your website type). Even if you have to adjust your domain name in order to secure that .com address, you should consider doing that.
As for the SLD (second-level domain), you can afford a bit of creativity in this section. The two most important pieces of advice are 1) to think about including your business name in your domain name and 2) reflect your brand in your domain name. If you are an attorney, it would be ill-advised to have a domain name of www.bestlawyersinthewholewideworld.com.
Similarly, if you are coming up with a domain name for your dentistry practice, you would not appeal to the most relevant audience with www.doctordavis.com
, for the sole reason that doctor is too broad of a description. When it comes to domain names, specific is better. The Importance of Domain Names and Subdomains
Domain names are very important. A domain name should reflect the services or purpose of your business.
Most domain names must be purchased. However, if you are determined to go the free route, you can get a free domain name hosted on a platform like Wordpress. The caveat is that a subdomain is embedded into it. Your universal resource locator can be thought of like a hierarchy, if you will. There are three levels: first-level domain, second-level domain, and third-level domain. These tiers visually work backwards.
Take the hypothetical URL “capitalandgrowth.wordpress.com,” for example. This is a mythical URL for a website that runs on WordPress and it displays the hierarchy of a domain name:
- .com is the first-level domain
- .wordpress is the second-level domain
- capitalandgrowth is the third-level domain
If you take away the second-level domain, the URL becomes capitalandgrowth.com, which tends to have more credibility than the URL with the subdomain does.
When a website is a stand-alone URL, without the addition of a subdomain, it shows independence rather than ownership. This type of second-level domain is typically a brand of some sort, whether it be WordPress, Tumblr, Wix, or any other website-hosting platform.
There is nothing intrinsically wrong with a subdomain. Some businesses use them on purpose, like Craigslist. Your Craigslist experience is first defined by the area in which you are searching. If you are looking for a job in Seattle, the base URL of Craigslist will be “seattle.craigslist.com.” In this example, the subdomain - “seattle” - is placed in front of the third-level domain - “craigslist” - but the hierarchy is still there.
In comparison, if you are scrolling through Craigslist and trying to find housing in LA, the URL will start as “losangeles.craigslist.com.” The way that Craigslist uses subdomains is a little different than the way a free URL from a hosting platform does. Craigslist takes advantage of subdomains for the purpose of categorizing their content based on region. The subdomains on WordPress and other hosting sites are for branding and exposure of the company.
However, you can get away from subdomains entirely when you either upgrade your membership with the hosting site you currently use or purchase a domain through another party. We will talk about costs soon. Before that, let us cover a few tips and tricks for getting the right domain name.
How Much Does a Domain Name Cost?
Domain names vary in price and depend solely on the seller. They can range from flat rates of $20 annually to upwards of $25 per month. You might even find a highly sought after name that costs upwards of $20,000. These are rough estimates so you may find payment options outside of these confines. The price of a domain name is determined by whomever is selling it.
Prices for domain names are usually not negotiable. If you find a seller with prices that you deem to be too steep, then look elsewhere. A plethora of domain name resources are out there. You just have to explore your realm of possibilities.
Domain names are not usually one-time purchases. Some registrars allow you to buy a domain for a term of ten years, after which you have the option to renew or you lose ownership of the domain. The prices and their respective lease terms should be explicitly stated in the contract. Make sure you read the fine print before agreeing to pay for a domain.
Below is a list of online registrars you can visit to purchase a domain name, along with their prices.
How to Get a Domain Name for Free (Or Cheap)
While there are many registrars out there willing to sell a domain name to you, there is not a single place that will solicit domain names for free. You should really just follow the base rule that a domain is never, ever free. Even if it is advertised as such, the “free domain name” only comes after you have paid for something else.
If you do not want to pay a premium to maintain ownership of a domain name, then you are not totally out of the luck. Money is always involved as far as registering a domain name is concerned. Website hosting services, like Wix, sometimes do offer a free domain as part of its membership. When you subscribe to one of its premium plans, a domain name is included in the charge.
Other sites, such as 1&1
, claim that the domain name is free of charge, but that does not mean you walk away from the deal without paying for something. With 1&1, a domain name is free in theory, but in reality, the domain name is part of a bundle with an annual fee.
There is a common trick that some registrars use and it can easily fool you if you do not pay close enough attention. They will advertise a domain name as “free,” but they mean it in the sense that nobody has claimed it yet. It is free because it is not under ownership, not because it is free of charge.
What if Someone Is Already Using Your Website's Domain Name?
If someone is already using a domain name that you want to claim, then you might have to tap into your creativity and come up with something similar, but different. A domain can only direct to one website. If someone has already asserted ownership of a domain, your only real option is to find something else.
In theory, you could contact the owner of the website and ask if they would be willing to relinquish the domain name into your hands. If you decide to try this, be sure to maintain professionalism and present your position eloquently. The kinder you are in your question, the more open and polite they will be in their response. It is human nature.
However, the chances that someone will sell their domain name to you, just because you ask them to, are slim to none. In the probable case that they decline, you should have another domain name in mind. Aside from asking permission to buy a domain name from the owner, you can check back every so often and see if the ownership has expired.
Another scenario that this could pertain to is one in which someone registers a domain name that you have already protected by way of a trademark. In this case, your best method of resolution would be to file a dispute and, if necessary, employ legal assistance from a law firm that specializes in dispute-resolution cases.t is important to note that trademarks do not always register on a global scale.
Say you have a trademark somewhere in North America. If someone in Iceland owns a domain name that you have trademarked, you will be frustrated to hear that your trademark might not hold any value across the world.
Coming full circle, if someone has a domain name that you want for yourself, reach out to them kindly. Ask if they would be willing to sell the domain name to you at a reasonable and fair cost. The best outcome is that they agree and authorize a transfer to your website. If they decline, respect their decision. There are numerous unclaimed domain names to choose from and just because it is not your first choice, does not mean it is any less significant.
Making Sure You Get to Keep Your Domain Name Forever If you purchase a domain name and the payment option is an annual fee, than the domain remains your own, so long as you continue to pay. Sometimes, though very rarely, a domain is offered to you for a limited period of time, without the option for renewal. This is incredibly rare, but it is important to read all terms associated with a registrar, in case this is included in their conditions of usage.
When deciding which registrar to go with, look into their domain transfer policy. In most instances, you can carry your domain over from one w
ebsite to another. While you cannot use a domain for multiple websites at a time, you should be able to transfer the same domain from one website to another.
After all, you are paying for the domain. You should be able to use it wherever you please. There is a lot of worth in a domain that is eligible for transfer.
Transferring your domain is not something you’ll consider right away. The transfer usually happens somewhere down the road. Maybe you started with a platform that turned out to be different from what you expected.
Another instance where you might wish to transfer a domain is if you had multiple websites and condensed your content to one host. Rather than losing a customized domain, you can move your domain name from the old host to the new. Keeping your information localized to one host eliminates confusion and helps your organization. All of your domain information will be on a single dashboard. You may even save money if you have one domain hosting package, for multiple URLs, through a single hosting service.
So, in short, one way of insisting that you never lose your domain is by making sure it is transferable. The other thing you can do to keep your domain name forever is by enrolling in automatic payments. Some domain registrars offer the option of opting into a renewal system. Either your credit card will be billed for the appropriate payment or it will be drafted from your bank account.
If you link your purchase to a credit card, you will need to remember to update your credit card information, should it ever expire throughout the duration of your domain ownership. Regardless, automatic payments are a superb way of making sure you never lose your domain. They keep you from having to remember that a payment is due, and this way, you will never miss a payment.
If you stop paying for a domain, it becomes free game. Once your registration for a domain name expires, it is essentially up for grabs and anyone interested in the domain can claim it as their own by purchasing it through any registrar. If your domain name is special to you, take precaution and make sure you do not lose ownership. There is little to zero possibility of you getting it back once it is under other ownership.
Also, once a domain has shown that it has interest because it was purchased at one point, it can be seen as more valuable. If you need to repurchase the same domain, it may end up costing you more the second time around.