Pratikshya asked me “How do I get a website name?” in an email. Website name? The question could mean many things. She might be looking for a brandable word to name her website, or, she was looking for exact domain name for her website.
This is nothing new incident. We often get too generic questions and need to throw several questions back to understand the real problem. Obviously, it is the most important to understand the problem correctly before you could suggest any solution.
There are many funny incidents when you hurry to offer suggestions without getting the question properly. When nothing works, both of us realize that one could not explain the problem and the other offered solution without knowing the it. Whatever, this is not the topic of today’s discussion. We’ll be looking at different factors to make you able to buy a new domain name for your blog.
Why should you have your own domain name?
As we already learned, we can run websites with the free subdomains offered by free hosting. However having your own domain name is very important and I believe, it is the most essential to start any blog. There are a number of good reasons for having a domain name:
Domain name is always with you
During the lifespan of a website, you may change the hosting many times. When you change the web host, the IP Address that points to your blog changes. It is the domain name that always remains unchanged.
Your regular visitors or customers who knew your site name as bivori.com (for example) would not have to be informed about a change of host. They can simply type your domain name and arrive to your new site.
Domain Name Gives Credibility
For any business or blogs, a domain name gives you credibility. You can’t expect anybody willing to do business through a website that does not have its own domain name.
If you get a domain name that describes your product or name, people can remember it easily and can return to your site without having to consult the documents. You will get direct traffic wihtout heavy advertising. If your product is popular, enjoy the goodwill of your product to convert the website traffic. There can be many people who were trying their luck by typing “www.productName.com” in their browser.
Get Sponsors and Advertisers
This is also something similar to the above point – credibility. When you are running your website or blog in subdomain such as myAwesomeBlog.blogspot.com or TheBestTipsForYourLife.wordpress.com, you won’t get any sponsors or advertisers for your blog. For good sponsors, a domain name is usually thought essential.
How Do I Get A Domain Name?
Getting a domain name involves the steps such as:
- Find a name that is unique, short and meaningful for your blog
- Make sure the name you choose is not already registered by others and still available.
- Choose a reliable domain name registrar and register your name to ICANN through them.
To register a domain name you need to pay an annual fee to the domain registrar. It generally costs around US$ 10 to US$ 35 per year and you should renew it every year. Usually the renewal fee is same as that of first year but many registrars offer some discount for the first year of registration.
Some web hosts offer you one domain name for free when you buy hosting from them. Some other hosts will register domain name for you but you’ll have to foot the registrar fees.
Whether your host offers free domain name or bought one on your behalf, pay attention if you are the real owner of that domain name. I always preferred to buy domain name directly from registrar (I mostly use GoDaddy) rather than through my hosts. I can’t compromise the quality for my comfort. There are many instances where the hosts registered the domain name under their own name. That’s completely a bull shit! You pay off the annual fees and you are not the rightful owner of that name!
You can’t change the host when you need because your domain name is tied with them! When you move away, you have nothing with you?
It is often with ‘less-than-reputable’ web hosts. That’s why I always recommend clients to use good hosts like HostGator. You should make sure that you are the registered owner, the administrative and technical contacts.
The administrative contact is also important because his/her approval is required before a domain name is transferred to other registrar. If he/she cannot be contacted, the technical contact is used.
The Common Domain Name Mistakes
Before I talk about how to buy domain names online, I think I should beware you of a few points so that you don’t repeat the same mistakes. As I said, ‘life is too short to commit all the mistakes to learn lessons’
Mistake #1. Long domain names
A good domain name should be as short as is practically possible. However, many newbies make mistake trying to use the full business name or trying to inject all the important keyword in domain names.
Domain name is for human and long one is always harder for them to remember. So, it is better to come up with a short domain name even if it means shortening your business name or abbreviating it.
Mistake #2. Using hyphens in domains
Hyphens have no negative impact on SEO and this fact attracted many SEO veterans to use it when they don’t get the exact domain name available. However, very few people might actually remember to type the hyphen in the address bar.
The consequence can be that your traffic are landing to a different blog because they forgot to type some hyphens.
Mistake #3. Ambiguity in domains
It is important to make sure you choose a domain name that has no ambiguity at all, otherwise, you might just send a wrong signal. I have a very funny experience. I was creating a website for Public Service Examination and thus registered a domain name psExam.com. After a long time I discovered that it is being blocked by many firewalls because it contained the word SEX – pSEXam.com.
Thus look at the domain name combining different characters and make sure it does not produce other meanings.
Mistake #4. Including numbers in domains
As long as it is absolutely necessary, I suggest you to avoid using numbers in domain names. Reason is similar to that of hyphens. Numbers make it difficult for human users to remember. Who invented that mathematics?
As an example, if your blog is 7days.com, it is very possible that people will enter sevendays.com if you told about your website over phone. To avoid such situations, try to use words instead of numbers for domain names.
Mistake #5. Wrong domain extensions
There are several domain extensions to choose from like .com, .au, .com, .org, .info, .net, etc. All these extensions have their own uses and meanings.
As I told you in my previous post that .com is used to mean commercial websites while .org is set aside for charities and non profit organizations.
Using the wrong domain extension can confuse visitors whereas the correct one will be intuitive to them. If you are setting up an e-commerce store, you would be better of using a .com extension. Visitors can guess what type of website it is before the page finishes loading just by seeing the domain extension.
Step By Step Instructions to Register Domain Names
If you want to buy a domain name, here’s the step by step instruction to follow. Please read it carefully before you act.
Step #1 » Think of a good name
Think of a few good domain names that you’d like to use. Often, only one name won’t work – it might already be taken (it probably is!).
You should check if the domain you choose is still available to register. Getting a good domain name available is often much harder than expected. You can use following tools to help you search and get idea of a new domain name. They will not only verify if they are available or not but also can suggest for better alternatives.
Best tools to search domain names:
- Advanced Domain Search Tool by GoDaddy: This is domain search tool by the #1 domain registrar. Enter your chosen name and click Search.
- Instant Domain Search: Check availability by start typing a name
- 123.reg.co: Check availability and click on Domain Suggestions if your chosen name is already taken
- NameBoy: A great tool if you are looking for keyword rich domain names. Enter your primary and secondary keyword and click Search.
- NameCheck: Check all at once – the availability of domain name for your name or product and at the same time the usernames in social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. After all, you’ll need the same names on those networks after you have the domain name, why not to check the availability when you are buying a new domain name?
- Bust A Name: has both options. You can type some keywords and the tool will search the best available domain name combining those keywords or you can enter your domain name so that it can check if it is available and offer suggestions if it is already taken.
- Verio Domain Search: Enter upto 10 domain names, choose extensions and click search. You have options to include synonyms and hyphens.
- Domainr: A domain name search engine. A great user experience and very fast search.
- JustDropped: As the name tells it, you can search for the expired domain names and recycle them. Please read my previous post (Domain Names – The unique name of your blog) to realize the importance of recycled domain names.
- Yahoo Domain Names: Another great tool from the well reputed Yahoo!
Step #2 » Think about payment processor
If you want to buy domain name online and get it instantly, you should have some online payment method. You will need either a credit card or a PayPal account to pay for the domain.
If you don’t have any online payment options (as is the case mostly in my country – Nepal), you’ll have to rely on your local domain registrars.
Step #3 » Get NameServers from your host
Though you’ll buy hosting after you get the domain name, but if you already have a web host, obtain from them the names of their primary and secondary nameservers.
Don’t worry if you don’t understand what the name servers are, we’ve not discussed them yet. I’ll explain about name servers while discussing the hosting.
The information about Name Servers can usually be obtained from their FAQs or Control Panel screen. You can email them or contact the online support if you can’t find nameserver by yourself. This information is used to point your domain name to your website after you buy the domain. Don’t worry if you don’t have a web host yet. Just read on.
If you do not have a web host, you can park the domain name at a temporary website. Almost all of the domain registrars provide you domain parking. This way you can quickly secure your domain name before it’s too late. I know it will take some time for you to set up your blog. As far as I know, almost all registrars have automatic parking the domain by default.
If your registrar is good one like GoDaddy, they also provide you with a free email address at your own domain name. That’s how I have email@example.com! It is important especially because you can provide your own contact email address when your website is not yet live.
Step #4 » Visit the registrar and fill up the form
Buying a domain name is not much different than creating your new email account in Gmail or Yahoo. Once you got the available name, you can create an account and add domain names by simply filling up the form, specify your payment method and submit.
That’s all for today’s post. I’ll be talking a bit about GoDaddy domain name and try to convince you why you must choose Godaddy as your domain registrar
Do you want to add more tools to search best domain names? What is your preferred domain registrar and why? Please share your views in comment, I’m waiting!
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