What is a domain name? A “domain” is your address on the internet. It starts with www, followed by your website name and then a “top-level domain”, such as .com, .net or .org.
If you don’’t already have one, you’ll need to buy and register a domain name. It usually costs $10–14 a year to register the domain name. You can buy a domain name from a web-hosting company (see Web Hosting for recommendations). You can search for availability of names on their sites. For instance, click here to check out domain availability through this site’s web host, BlueHost.
Search For a Domain Name
- Choose a name that tells what your site is about and/or your name or company name.
- If you can, include “keywords” that potential visitors would use in searching for what you have on your site.
- Generally, shorter is better. It should be easy to remember.
- Go for a “.com” site, unless your site is for a non-profit organization or service, in which case, use “.org”. “.Net” is next best, but anything other than .com or .org can make it more difficult for users to find you, unless you have a specialized use, such as “.tv” for a TV show.
- Avoid using hyphenated names. Like-this.
- If you are able to get a “.com” domain and are serious about your venture, consider also buying the “.org” and “.net” version to prevent the potential confusion that could be caused by having another organization use a similar domain address.
- Keep good records and either make a note of when your domain is up for renewal or put it on an automatic renewal system (make sure your credit card info is up-to-date!).
- Some web hosts include the domain name for first year in the fee when you sign up for web hosting. This can save you a little money upfront.
- Make sure to choose a reputable company.The companies I am mentioning here are ICANN-accredited registrars. They register the name for you, but you own it.
Register a Domain Name
Before you buy your domain name, I suggest deciding where you will host your site.
Purchasing Domain and Hosting Together: I personally like the simplicity of keeping everything in one place. I now do this for most sites, purchasing everything through BlueHost, which I highly recommend for web hosting. There, as with most web hosting companies, the domain is included free for the first year when you sign up for a hosting package. Another recommended web host, DreamHost, provides the domain free as well as WHOIS privacy, with the purchase of a hosting package.
Purchasing Domains and Hosting Separately: Some website experts suggest buying your domain name and web hosting through separate providers, however, because:
- Separate providers may present cost savings for some users. For instance, users with a lot of domains may find GoDaddy’s bulk rate plans to be cost-effective. (Note: I normally recommend other providers over GoDaddy for hosting, though.) NameCheap is…pretty cheap overall, plus it gives free Privacy protection the first year and at a very low rate thereafter.
- If you decide to change hosting companies in the future for any reason, the transfer process is a little smoother if you only have to transfer the hosting and not the domain as well.
- While most web hosting companies provide one free domain for at least the first year when you sign up for a web hosting package, if you want to buy extra domains (for instance, the “.net” or “.org” version of your domain, in addition to the “.com” version), you might find special deals that lower at least the first year rate.
When you sign up for a domain, you will be offered several options.
- Length: If you buy the domain for a longer period of time, the price per year will usually go down a bit. If you are just starting out, I suggest just buying it for a year.
- Privacy: When you buy a domain, your information (name, address, email, phone) is visible in a “whois” search. For a fee, generally about $10/year, you can make this information private.
For security, unless you are in the process of transferring your domain, keep “Lock Status” on “locked” so it cannot be transferred away.