All About Domain Names: Domain Frequently Asked Questions

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Picking a domain name is like finding your digital home — you need it to be the right fit for you and it has to be available to purchase.

If you’re interested in registering a domain name, it should be done sooner rather than later. There are already over 350 million registered domain names as of the first quarter of 2019. 

Your domain name is the heart of your online identity, so you want to make sure you get the perfect name for your business. While domain names can be changed at any time, doing so may have a negative impact on your brand or search engine optimization (SEO). The goal should be to choose the best possible one from the start. 

To help you understand all the ins and outs of purchasing and maintaining a domain name, we’ve put together a list of frequently asked questions that should help you make the most informed decision possible. 

Domain Name Basics 

How do I choose the best domain name?
Choosing a domain name that's unique for your business is an important part of your online marketing strategy. A domain name that stands out and is easy to remember helps your customers and prospects find you on the Internet. 

Your domain name should reflect the core products or services of your business. As many of the obvious domain names are already taken, get creative with your thinking.

When choosing a domain name, there are several things you should consider:

Is your domain name simple?

Most people who surf the Internet expect speed and convenience, especially when they're searching for a product or service. The shorter the domain name, the easier it is to type and remember or refer others to. 

Are you using common keywords in your domain name?

It's important to consider SEO when choosing a domain name. By using the main keyword phrase in your domain name that you’ll use to optimize your website, you can help your site's ranking on search engine results pages (or SERPs) and in the never-ending quest to appear on page one on Google.

Is the domain name relevant to your business? 

Your domain name must be relevant to the products you're selling or the services you're offering. At the same time, be wary not to lock yourself into a box if you’re considering expanding your offerings in the future.

Should I use .com or is another extension okay?
The most commonly used and recognized domain extension is .com. However, Google and additional search engines treat other domain extensions, such as .net, .site or even .club, the same as they do a .com. 

When you create an exact-match keyword domain, the search engines are more likely to rank the keyword phrase in the domain name higher than a domain name that’s less descriptive.

Private Registration of Your Domain Name

Why should I choose private registration for my domain name(s)?
The information listed on your domain name has to be made publicly available per your registrar's agreement with ICANN, the international governing body of domain names. Using false information will violate the registration agreement and lead to the termination of your domain registration. 

With private registration, you can have all the benefits of a domain registration without exposing your personal information for everyone to see. When you purchase private domain registration services, the WHOIS directory will list your registrar’s name, postal address and phone number instead of yours.

Does choosing private registration mean I lose some control over my domain name?
This can vary depending on your registrar, but with, we use our information in place of the registrant so your private information is masked. You retain the full benefits of the registration.

This means you retain the ability to:

  • Cancel, sell or transfer your domain registration.
  • Cancel our service so that registrant status reverts to you.
  • Renew your domain registration upon expiration.
  • Designate the name servers to which your domain points.
  • Resolve claims arising out of a dispute involving your domain registration.

How do I know my identity is protected if I choose private registration?
Your personal information is not published in the WHOIS database. Instead, your registrar’s name, address and phone number are made publicly available. This helps prevent exposure to spam, fraud or possible identity theft. 

Your registrar will not reveal your identity unless required by law or if you breach your Service Agreement. 

What kind of information can I manage for my private domain?
You can modify and update your private domain name's non-public contact information, including the registrant, administrative, technical and billing information. 

In the event you revert to public domain registration, all of this contact information will be required by ICANN and, therefore, must be kept current. You may use the same information for all of these contacts. If you do not complete all of the contact information, the registrant details will be used for the rest.

Must I provide valid contact information for a private domain registration?
When you purchase a domain name, you must include accurate and updated information for all of your contacts (e.g. registrant, administrative, technical and billing), regardless of whether you choose to make it a "private" or "public" registration. This is the only way can reach you with issues concerning your domain and our private registration services.

If you enter false information, you risk having your domain name and our private registration services canceled entirely. 

Can I cancel private domain name registration?
As the domain owner, you have the right to cancel the private domain registration service. This is something that has been placed under your sole control.

After you cancel private domain name registration services, your name and your home, email and postal addresses will be made publicly available in the WHOIS directory.

Other Common Questions About Domains

Can I redirect my domain to a social media account?
A redirect automatically takes a user from one URL to the next URL. 301 redirects are typically used to make sure users end up in the right place. This redirect tactic may be used by a business that has purchased a domain name but doesn’t have a website set up.

A strong website is the foundation of a proper digital marketing strategy, so using a redirect should be a short-term solution. With social media, you’re dependent on people who own the platform. With your own website, you’re fully in control. 

Why do I have to renew my domain? Can I just buy it?
Domain names are “rented,” not purchased. The more domain names a registrar has under its management, the greater the operating costs increase. ICANN wants to ensure that businesses can accommodate for this inflation over time. 

Most registrars offer automatic annual renewal for domains.

Do I need to trademark my domain name?
If your domain is the same as your brand name, getting a trademark is an additional step you can take to protect your business. Trademarks protect your business by providing legal recourse should another person or business choose to infringe on your brand name.

What if I want to change my domain name?
You have the ability to change your domain name whenever you like, and most registrars offer a process to migrate from one domain name to another. Domain name changes can be potentially beneficial if your business is going through a rebranding or if you want to capitalize on SEO opportunities.

Now that you’re familiar with the finer details of choosing and maintaining a domain name, you’re ready to take action. Remember, your website is the online face of your business, so use your knowledge and some of these tips to choose the best domain name possible for your SMB. 

Are you ready to pick a domain name? Get started with some helpful resources.

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