Finding and registering a domain name has become a breeze thanks to the great number of services that offer domain name registration. However, when finding and registering a domain name, there are some things to consider and pitfalls to avoid.
1. Choose Your Domain Name And Find Out If It Is Available
Generally the first step to finding a domain name is simply to type in your desired domain name into a browser bar. If a screen pops up saying that it can’t find a server, there is a good chance your desired domain is available. Other times, a screen will pop up telling you that the domain has been reserved by a certain company. What this generally means is that someone has already purchased the rights to that domain name and if you want it, you are going to have to purchase it from them, which can often be costly.
Another thing to keep in mind is that there are many different “top level” or “parent” domains to choose from. In the US, these are generally three letter designations preceded by a dot or period, such as .com or .net. In other countries, top level domains are often two letters, such as .au or .ca. There are a greater and greater number of top level domains available, and this is both good news and bad news. The good news is that if someone has already taken your domain as a .com, you still have the option of registering the same name as a .net, .org or some other top level domain.
Conversely, however, if you want to register your name as a domain, it might already be taken and in some cases, you may not want to simply use a different top level domain. If you are an author named Mary Jones and another author by the name of Mary Jones has secured maryjones.com, you may not want to simply use maryjones.net as your website. Realistically, more people will end up at maryjones.com, which means all of your potential readers and buyers will end up looking at- and possibly purchasing – her material rather than yours or conversely, deciding they don’t like your material because they were actually looking at hers.
The other thing to keep in mind about parent domains is that if you have a successful business, sometimes scammers will secure the name of your business with a different parent domain to lure in unsuspecting marks. If this is of concern to you, then it is a fairly wise idea to secure several top level domains. So, for instance, if you have a business called Debbie’s Donuts and want to start a website, you might secure the rights to debbiesdonuts.com, debbiesdonuts.net and debbiesdonuts.org. Then whenever anyone searches any of those options, they will all go to your website.
2. Choose A Service To Register Your Domain Name With
Once you have a good idea of the domain name you would like, the next step is to find a place to register your domain name. Many people will register their domain name with a hosting site such as Go Daddy, Site Builder or WordPress. Where you want to register your domain name depends on several factors, such as whether you want to build a website, blog, or simply secure the domain to have access to sending and receiving emails from a personalized site rather than from a free site like Outlook, Gmail or Yahoo.
If you are a blogger and want to primarily use your page as a blog, you might want to register your domain with a blogging site, such as WordPress. If you are building a company website, you may want to register your domain with the site that will eventually host your webpage such as Go Daddy or Site Builder. If you are planning on hiring a designer to build a website for you, they may have some suggestions as to where to register your domain name.
3. Be Sure To Register Your Domain Name With A Reputable Service
Do a little bit of researching before registering to be sure that the site has a good history of fair practices and some good consumer feedback. Some sites will charge a low fee for the first few years of hosting, but then jack the prices up once you have well-established site. For this reason, some people will opt to register their domain name with a site other than their hosting site such as NameCheap or Whois. It might be a little more expensive up front because hosting sites will generally offer free domain registration, while you may have to pay separately for domain registration elsewhere, but it’s generally less than $20 for a year and could save many hassles down the road.
While laws are rapidly changing, we are still in a time where there is a lot of grey area about who actually owns the domain name. This is reflective of the problem of cell phone carriers in the early 2000’s “owning” phone numbers. Customers could leave one carrier for another, but they would have to get a new number, which essentially held customers hostage to their phone carrier. Eventually the laws changed to allow consumers to take their phone numbers with them when they changed carriers. The laws regarding domain ownership are slowly changing, but it is important to be aware that, for the moment at least, there is still the possibility that you could have your domain name held hostage by a hosting site that forces you to pay high prices for hosting in order to keep your domain name.
4. Use A Domain Registration Site While You Are Building Your Content
This is a great option if you are not quite sure yet what kind of site you want to build or what you want to do with your domain. You can register your domain name so that you know it will be available when you are ready to use it, but start building something on a free site to determine what you want your final site to look like. Transferring content from a free site to a paid domain is usually relatively simple and can save you some money in monthly fees while you are figuring out what you want to do.
There are many great options to find a domain name and get it registered, so with a little research and some moderate planning, you should be up and running with very little difficulty. Happy hunting!