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A domain name is a unique name registered with a domain registrar by individuals or businesses to claim their own internet space. You can use a registered domain name for a website, an email or both. A web host requires a domain name to publish your website. We’re going to give you more details in this article about getting your website a domain name.

Let’s take the example of our own domain name. Web users can type the domain name (web address) fitsmallbusiness.com on their browser in order to reach our website. For everyone in our team, we also have professional business emails that end in our domain (e.g. firstnamelastname@fitsmallbusiness.com).

As this example shows, there are two parts to a domain name:

Top Level Domain (TLD) on the right side of the dot. It’s”.com” in our case and in most cases. Also called the parent domain, apart from the popular.com, there are other TLDs and usually give an idea about the owner to visitors. For example,.gov is used for non-profit organizations by government websites and.org. Other TLDs such as.uk,.us,.ca also show the location from which the website owner originates.

The second level domain is located at the dot’s left. It bears the owner’s unique identity as a business name or the name of the owner or what the person is doing. In our case, fitsmallbusiness is the second level domain, which shows that our site is related to small businesses.

STEPS TO REGISTER A DOMAIN NAME

Here are the steps to register a domain:

  1. Select your hosting service or registrar. Recall checking their hosting and pricing policies. ICANN has a list of reputable registrars of domains.
  1. Search for the name of the domain. Your selected registrar should have a checker for availability, such as Bluehost’s one, which you can use to determine if a domain name is available. The benefit of the availability checker is that if yours is already taken, it will give you suggestions for alternative domains.
  1. Complete the forms. Expect to be asked to fill in your profile for the “WHOIS” database for your personal information and contact details. Choose whether you want a public or private profile.
  1. Pay for the domain. Domain names prices will appear during the check of availability. You may be able to get your domain free by purchasing a hosting package depending on which web host or registrar you choose. You can use your domain name immediately after payment or park it until you are ready to start your own website.
  1. Domain and website links. Using the domain manager, enter in the domain settings of your registrar the name of the primary and secondary servers of your web host. This process will link to your website your domain name.
  1. If you do not have a website, park your domain. If you do not yet have a website, your domain registrar may temporarily use a website setup to park your domain name for you. Parking a domain means that the particular website address has been reserved until you have created your own website to use the name.

HAVING A REGISTERED DOMAIN ADDS CREDIBILITY

  • Having a registered domain name gives internet users an idea of what the business is all about and gives your website’s potential visitors trust in your brand.
  • Makes it easier to find your business–use your domain name to introduce your business and make it easy for users to find you on the internet even if you are changing your website.
  • Email–You usually receive a professional email address by registering a domain name. Customers are more likely to trust companies with professional business emails from their employees.

WHAT IT COSTS

A number of factors affect a domain’s cost: your TLD choice–some TLDs are more expensive than others. .com domains, followed by.biz and.org, are the most expensive.

Word length, certain words, or word combinations–Using popular keywords or phrases will cost more domain names.

Domain name registration term length–it costs $2-$20 to register a domain name for one year on average. It costs about $4 more to renew a domain than to register. If possible, try to register for 2-3 years instead of a year to save on renewal costs when registering your domain.

Add ons–Subscribers can choose to add ons such as domain privacy and web hosting along with domain registration. This comes at a surcharge.

Buying a domain name already owned–A domain currently owned by someone else can be purchased in a bidding process, but this usually costs more than a new domain registration.

Domain registrar discounts–Sometimes discounts are offered by domain registrars. During special discounts, a.com domain name that would normally cost about $10-13 per year can go down to as low as $2-3 per year.

WHY IS DOMAIN NAME IMPORTANT

There are a number of good reasons to have a domain name: if you ever change your web host (the actual physical location of your website files), your domain name will accompany you. Your regular visitors or customers who knew the name of your website as (say) www.thesitewizard.com would not need to be informed of a change in web address (also known as “URL”), as the website is still at the same location as they are concerned. They would simply type your domain name and bring it to your new location in a transparent way.

If you’re a business, you’re given credibility by a domain name. Few people will be willing to do business with a company that has no domain name of its own.

If you get a domain name describing the business or name of your company, people can easily remember the name and return to your site without consulting their documents. In fact, if you get a good name describing your product or service, you might even get people who tried their luck by typing in their browser “www.yourproductname.com.”

Usually a domain name is helpful if you want good sponsors (advertisers) for your website. It tends to give an aura of respect to your website.

SOME DOMAIN NAME REGISTRARS

There are numerous registrars of domain names. Only a few, along with my comments, are listed below if I know anything about them. Note that the domain name industry is highly competitive, with prices fluctuating wildly throughout the year, every year, so there is no real mention of precise prices below unless I spend all my time updating this page. Please check the latest rates on their sites. I have listed everything in US dollars unless otherwise stated, although if you go to the site of the registrar, you may see the prices in your local currency.

GoDaddy— This extremely popular registrar (probably today’s largest) provides.com domain names for $9.99 (plus 20 cents) per year (or $6.99 plus 20 cents if you transfer from another registrar). They have a web interface to manage your domains, free web redirection, free start web page, free parked page or free “for sale” page, and optional private domain registration where your domain is registered in the name of a proxy company.

Domain.com (also known as Dotster) — This registrar offers fairly low domain prices (e.g. $9.99 for”.com”), a convenient web interface for managing your domains, an optional privacy facility where your domain name is registered as a proxy company, etc. They offer, among others, domains.com,.net,.org,.biz,.info,.us,.ca,.tv,.name,.cc,.de,.sr,.md,.co.uk,.us.com. The price is even cheaper if you transfer a domain from other registrars to them ($ 8.29 for the initial transfer term). Both payments by credit card and PayPal are accepted here.

Namecheap— This company provides $10.69 (plus 18 cents)of.com domains per year ($ 9.69 if you transfer from other registrars). You get free email forwarding along with your domain, free web redirection (where anyone going to your domain is automatically directed to another address of your choice), free parking of domain name, etc.They have available a wide range of domain name extensions, including.net,.org,.biz,.info,.us,.co.uk,.co,.de, etc. For your purchases, you can use either a credit card or PayPal.

123-reg — This registrar, one of the largest in the United Kingdom, offers.com domains at £ 6.99 a year,.uk and.co.uk at 99p a year, etc. You also get free privacy protection for this price, which means your data is hidden from public view (done by registering the domain under a proxy company). Payments by credit card and PayPal are accepted.

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