How to Register a Domain Name
A domain name is the first step in creating your own corner of the internet.
So you've decided that you need a website. Excellent decision, it's almost a necessity in today's economy.
A memorable (and searchable) website domain name can send thousands of visitors to your website with little or no effort.
If someone is searching for dog training in their area and you happen to be a dog trainer and your website is LocalDogTraining.com, and they saw your flyer at the pet supply store or read your ad somewhere, there are two opportunities for them to find. One is they remembered it because it was easy to remember. The second is they did a Google search and you came up as a result and they clicked on you because it made sense and it was exactly what they were looking for.
However, before you begin creating your beautiful and informative website to attract that client, you need a register the domain name.
I promise this is the easiest part of having your own website. Let's go over the quick and easy steps to register your very own domain name.
Decide what your URL you want and check availability.
You may have the perfect domain name chosen but is it available? Despite what some might say, there are definitely still some wonderful domain names available.
If you haven’t chosen a domain name yet, brainstorm and make a list of 10-20 potential domain names that you like and then hop online to see if they’re available.
Remember to make it something that is easy to convey in conversation. Think about it as if you were going to do a radio ad. Would it be easy to say the domain name? For example, "To schedule an appointment or to get a service quote, please visit MyWebsite.com."
To check availability you can just type them right into your browser to start off or you can go to a registrar that you'll be using and type it into their availability tool.
Does it need to be a dot com?
The short answer is yes. It's the easiest to remember and most likely to be remembered.
There are hundreds of extensions nowadays, so you're not limited to just .com, .net, and .org, but those are the most common ones that people are familiar with. People confuse .net, .info, and all those other extensions on a daily basis.
If your website is for a non-profit then a .org is most certainly appropriate and even recommended.
If you do decide that you want to go with a .net or other domain name extension, I strongly recommend getting the .com as well if you can. Then you can redirect one domain name to the other so they both go to the same place if someone types in the .com out of habit ;)
There are some fun extensions out there, too, like .club or .ninja. Depending on what your project or business is, you might want to try one out as a secondary URL just for fun.
What's your favorite domain extension?
What if it's not available?
When the URL you really want isn't available you have a few options:
1. Pick something else. Easy peasy.
2. Offer to buy it from the person that owns it. A little more difficult, but might be an option if the URL isn't actually in use.
3. Set up an alert to be notified if it becomes available in the future.
Go to the registrar and buy the domain.
You have essentially two choices here, through your website host or through a basic domain registration site, a registrar. Personally, I like to keep mine separate, sort of to avoid having all the eggs in one basket so to speak. I've also found that while many webhosts are great for hosting they're not so great with domain names and vice versa when it comes down to customer service and knowledge.
You'll need to have either a credit card or Paypal account for making the payment and registering your domain name.
Make sure you choose a registrar who has a good reputation in the industry and who has been around for a bit. Registrars pop up across the web all the time, but you want to be sure that you are registering your site with a reputable company who will be around when it's time to renew your registration - a process which typically occurs annually, but you may also choose every 2 years, 4 years, 5 years, or even 10 years.
I like Namecheap.com for registering my website domain names because their prices are good, they have excellent customer service, and they don't try to sell 100 extra things that you don't need.
A quick overview of the actual registration process.
Here's a brief rundown of the actual steps I take when I want to buy a domain name.
- Brainstorm a list of 10 options.
- Go to Namecheap to check availability starting with my favorite.
- Add the available domain name to cart.
- Proceed to checkout. (Login or register as needed here)
- Add the WhoIs privacy protection, free for the first year at Namecheap
- Turn off the auto-renewal, I prefer to do those manually on a case by case basis.
- Enter payment details and verify contact information.
Even though they already have the best prices on the web, there's almost always a coupon code available for new domain name registrations and transfers at Namecheap. The June coupon code is WARMUP.
Extra Step: Get the Nameserver Settings
If you already have a website host and you want to move directly into building your website immediately, you’ll want to get the names of their primary and secondary nameservers. This information will allow you to redirect your domain name to your website host.
If all this is confusing, not to worry. It’s generally a simple process of typing a bit of information where they ask for it.