To get a domain name, you have to order one through a domain name registrar or when you purchase hosting for your website. Some hosting companies will include a domain name free with a hosting plan and commitment.
When you purchase a domain name it is for one year, then it needs to be renewed each year to keep using it. You can purchase multiple years in advance.
Many domain name registrars will offer standard domain names for less than $10 for the first year, then it will increase when it renews.
There are "premium" domain names which can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Domain names that use common words or that are short and memorable are more popular and desirable, so they are often already registered or listed for sale for a large amount of money.
Domain Name Endings or TLDs
The ending of a domain name is called TLD or top-level domain. These endings are typically .com, .net, and .org.
Business websites typically use .com or .net. Nonprofit organizations, churches, and ministries often use a .org or .com domain name.
In recent years, new TLDs have been added such as .coffee, .life, .shop, and more. These new TLDs typically cost more per year than the standard .com domain names.
The benefit to using a distinct TLD, is that it is typically easier to acquire a domain name with the keywords you want.
The downside is that most people are used to and expect websites to end with .com so they may end up at the wrong website trying to get to yours.
If you choose a distinct domain name as the primary one for your website, you will need to put more effort into marketing it and making it memorable and part of your branding.
Buying Multiple Domain Names
You can buy multiple domain names and have them point to the same website. If you do, you have to choose one domain name to be the primary one and point the other ones to it.
So for example, you could have a .com, .net, .org, and a distinctive domain name all pointing to the same website.
If you had a business called "Fabulous Widgets", if available, you could get the domain names:
Then you can make fabulouswidgets.com the primary domain name that you use for your website and email addresses.
If your customers type in any of the domain names above, they will be directed to the website located at fabulouswidgets.com.
Most businesses don't need to have multiple domain names and it will be fine to have just one that ends with .com or .net.
When buying a domain name, you should really put thought into what you decide to get. Here are some tips to keep in mind when choosing a domain name:
Choose a domain name that matches your brand name or is as close to it as possible.
Keep it short by not using more than 3 or 4 terms. Domain names with 2 to 3 keywords are best.
If serving a particular location, it may help to include the location.
Choose a domain name that is easy to spell and remember.
Avoid using numbers or dashes as it can make it harder for your customers to type and remember.
Don't choose a domain name that is or is too close to an existing brand name or trademark.
Avoid using misspellings of words or business names as this is often done by scammers, potentially causing your customers to be wary and suspicious.
Keep it simple and use words that are relevant to your business that people will search for.
Put together a list of domain names that you like and alternatives you might be open to.
The Importance of Privacy
Domain names are sold by domain name registrars which work with a nonprofit organization called ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) that serves as the central authority for all domain names.
When you purchase a domain name, the information is sent to ICANN which then connects the domain name to your identity.
Unless you have ordered private registration, your name and contact information is stored in a massive directory. Anyone can access and search the directory by doing a WHOIS search for any domain name.
If you order privacy protection for each domain name you register, your name and contact information will be replaced with the privacy protection company's.
The reason privacy is beneficial is that it reduces the amount of spam and scammers that contact you. Without it, you may start getting calls and emails within a few hours of registration. Scammers, sketchy web designers, shady marketers, and other companies will hound you trying to sell you something or scam you out of money.
Most domain name registrars sell privacy protection at an additional charge typically around $10 a year, but it varies.
Where to Buy a Domain Name
When it comes to buying a domain name, you have literally thousands of options. However, most of those options are actually resellers, meaning that they are reselling the domain name registration services of another company to you.
What you really need to decide is if you want to buy a domain name by itself or bundled with other services.
The benefits of buying a domain name by itself, apart from your website hosting and website builder are:
- it is typically cheaper to buy a website hosting plan and the domain name separately than paying for hosting that includes a free domain name
- if you choose to change website hosts or site builders later on, it will be much easier to do so
- some companies only include a free domain name for the first year, then you will be expected to pay far more for it on renewal than you would if you purchase it separately
The only real downside to buying your domain name separately, is that once you purchase it, you will need to learn how to point it to your website hosting.
But we tutorials on how to do just that!
How to Update the Nameservers for Your Domain Name
If you're hosting your website with a different company than your website hosting, then you will need to update the nameservers. What this will do is send all the traffic for both your website, emails, and everything associated with that domain name to your website hosting company. This is the simplest way to set things up - especially if you use the hosting company we recommend in the next lesson.
Before you can do this, you will need the nameservers that the website hosting company provides you with after you order a web hosting plan.
More Advanced Setup
If you decide to purchase email hosting separately or have other special requirements, then you may only need to point the domain name to your website's server using an IP address. Below is our tutorial video on how to do that.
Please note, that this will only show you how to get your website to come up when someone puts in the domain name, and you will have to have hosting and the IP address of your website's server.
If you need help with figuring out how to connect to a separate email server, or some other complicated setup, you can contact us and we will be happy to help you.