You've heard you need to buy a domain name. You have a rough understanding of what the process involves, but the prospect of registering one still seems daunting.
Fortunately, registering a domain name is actually quite simple once you know how to do it, and it can be done in a matter of minutes.
First, you choose a website to get your domain name from. This website is more formally known as a “domain registrar,” or just “registrar.”
Next, you use that website to check that the domain you want is available. If it is, you enter your contact information for the WhoIs database so that you are compliant with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which ensures domain names are registered and maintained in good faith.
At this point in the process, you might also add additional products and services to your cart, such as private registration, a hosting package and additional years on your registration (up to 10).
You then pay the registration fee, and you are all set. That is of course assuming the domain name you want isn’t taken by anyone else. If it is, you will have to contact the owner or “registrant,” of that domain and ask them if you might be able to acquire the registration from them.
Let’s back up for a second and acknowledge that calling the process of registering a domain name “simple” is subjective. If you don’t know what all these terms mean or understand why these processes are in place, registering and managing a domain name can be difficult. Worse yet, if you don’t know what you're doing, you might hurt your business’s reputation or even lose access to your domain name.
This article covers the most frequently asked questions when it comes to domain names, so you can register and manage yours with confidence.
A domain name is essentially an address that exists online. An example of a domain name is “example.com.” You’ll notice that this domain name is comprised of two parts that are separated by a dot.
The first part is a name you come up with, such as the name of your business, brand or the name of some intellectual property. This first part can only include letters, numbers and dashes.
The second part is the domain name extension, which can also be referred to as a top-level domain (TLD). Examples of TLDs include *.com, *.co.uk and new TLDs like .ninja and .guru. The TLDs that are available are decided on by ICANN.
One of the most common uses of domain names is to direct internet traffic to websites. Every domain name has a domain name system (DNS) which is used to help website browsers locate website content. There are a few types of these DNS records, but every website will have at least one called an “A Record,” which is used to indicate the IP address of a server where website files are hosted.
The other most common use of domain names is for email. MX records are another type of DNS record, which indicate where email servers are located.
A quick note about DNS records and setting them up: when the company you choose a domain with is the same as the one you are building a website with, you usually won’t have to worry about setting up DNS records, as is the case with web hosting. But when your website or email host is different from your domain name provider, you will need to get the appropriate records from your hosting provider and enter it in your DNS via your domain name provider.
The moment you have an idea for a business, product or brand, you should register a domain name for it. The right time to buy a domain name is when you have a business idea and you are ready to make it a reality. If someone else has the same idea as you, they can register the domain name before you do. Then, if you still want it, you will probably have to pay them for it, and domains on the domain aftermarket aren’t always cheap.
Additionally, you should register defensive domain names to protect your ideas. These are domain names that are slight variations of your main domain names, such as ones that are the same except for the TLDs, similar spelling variations (such as ones that might be entered in error) or domain names that would cast your brand in a negative light. These domain names are typically redirected to your main websites or left dormant, but the main purpose of registering them is to make sure no one else can.
For example, someone might register ShawnsThings.com and SeansThings.sucks to protect the brand identity SeansThings.com. They could then direct ShawnThings.com to their main website in case people spell “Sean” wrong, or redirect SeansThings.sucks to a customer survey page to find out how to serve them better.
However, registering many domain names isn't practical for small businesses from a financial standpoint. It can be difficult to weigh the risk of securing a domain name to be safe and not registering it. Domain names are an important part of your online identity and your brand. You’ll need at least one for your business website and email, but you should strongly consider securing them for tentpole products or burgeoning intellectual properties as well.
Domain names can range from free — though always with an asterisk related to later costs — to tens of dollars to millions of dollars. There are many factors that will determine how much it costs to register a domain name, including the following:
Over the lifetime of the domain name, you will also need to pay for registration renewals every year, a process that is also regulated by ICANN. Conveniently, you can register a domain name for up to 10 years at a time. If you forget to renew your domain name, you will be in danger of losing it.
Unfortunately, losing a domain name is a very common scenario. Ensure you keep your contact information with your registrar up to date so you don’t miss renewal notices, and consider adding a renewing event on your calendar to remind you to renew.
Do you want to register a domain name? It’s easy. Start the process of registering a domain name here. All you need is an idea and a way to pay.
Did you register your domain name somewhere else but would rather have it with us? Also easy. And it doesn’t cost any more than the cost of the renewal. As long as your domain name has been with its current registrar for at least three months and isn’t already registered for 10 years (per ICANN regulations), you shouldn’t have a problem transferring your domain name.
What Are Domain Name Extensions?
Domain name extensions are the text that comes after the dot in a website or email address, such as *.com and *.net. Domain extensions are also commonly known as top-level domains or TLDs.
How to Change Domain Name Servers?
If you need to change your name servers, which affects where your DNS is hosted and mapped, you will need to go through either your registrar or the company you registered your domain name through,
How Important is My Domain Name?
Your domain name is your business’s web address, so you could say that it’s the most important part of your online presence.
Do I Need a Website to Register a Domain Name?
How Do I Connect to Domain Hosting?
If you need to access domain hosting, you will need to go through the company you registered your domain name through.
How Do I Search for Available Domain Names?
You can search for domain names here.