How To Choose and Register a Domain Name
Written for the non-experienced & first time webmasters
I get asked for advice on registering domain names often. Now, I can simply point people to this web page for my "Dos and Don'ts" regarding buying domain names.
This is a basic non-technical guide, written to help you register a domain name with ease and save later headaches.
What is a Domain Name?
You know... those little .coms you type into your web browsers address bar.
Examples of domain names: facebook.com, google.com, blifaloo.com
.com is the extension or TLD. Other TLDs include .org, .net and country specific extensions such as .ca (canada) .uk
Should I get a .com or .ca ?
If your website targets traffic by country, such as a Canadian business that only does business within Canada... you are better off getting the .ca extension. Same goes for UK, etc.
.com is great if your audience is world-wide or mostly US-based.
How Much Does a Domain Name Cost?
You should be paying no more than $10-$20/year on a domain name. $10/year is about the cost for a .com through popular domain registrars such as NameCheap and GoDaddy.
Where Should I Buy a Domain Name?
Before buying a domain, you'll need to register with a "registrar".
My personal favorite is NameCheap.com -- I've been using them for years and have always been happy with their service and simplicity.
Moniker was recommend to me by a few fellow webmasters as another good option, even if they have higher prices.
Overall, I say go with NameCheap.com (especially if you are my friend/relative and are going to be asking me for help setting things up).
Go there and sign up for an account, after you have an account, registering and buying a domain is a breeze.
Important Tips for Domain Name Newbies
Save your username and password that you used when you signed up with a domain registrar (like namecheap.com). Don't lose this info. You'll need it, trust me. When you sign up, do it with a permanent email address.
You need to renew your domain yearly...if you don't, you will loose it. Many people new to domains loose their domains because they forgot to renew, or their credit card expires that is on file for auto-renew.
You could also pay years ahead if you can afford it, so you don't have to worry about renewals each year.
What Do I Do After I Get a Domain Name?
After registering a domain name, you'll need to get yourself some Web Hosting when you are ready to start a website (here's our guide to finding a web host).
Your webhosting company then tells you your "Nameservers" or DNS.
You then login to your domain registrar account (like at NameCheap.com), select your domain, and find the option to "Edit Name Servers" or "Transfer DNS to Web Host" or "DNS set-up" -- and then enter the nameserver info in the appropriate fields.
Now your domain must "propagate". This just means the world-wide-web is in the process of pointing your domain name at your hosting company server. This takes a few minutes to a few days.
Note: my favorite domain registrar NameCheap.com also started offering web hosting. I haven't used it, so I can't personally recommend it -- but it is cheap (about $3/mo). Link below:
More Tips on Choosing a Domain Name
Everything "good" seems to be taken, eh? Don't worry, there is always a perfect name out there. Really.
If you topic is say.... dogs. Think of some synonyms, use a thesaurus, and brainstorm. Dogs... canine, pups, spot, pooch, doggie. Think of some dog related objects or ideas: fetch, rollover, sit pretty, dog house, best friend...etc.
Put some of these ideas and concepts together and you'll find a domain name.
Hints: Still can't find anything? Try adding suffixes to your main idea: like ____HQ.com, _____spot.com, _____zone.com. I'm sure you can think of more.
Domain Resources and Tools
Firefox Users: My friend Richard created a nifty Firefox Extension called Domain Lookup - it makes finding the perfect domain name easy. Check it out.
Wikipedia's Entry on ".com" -- Interesting read, includes a list of the oldest domains names.
Next: How to Choose a Web Host - Another non-technical guide to help you get a website up a running.
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