When navigation on the web we do not really think about how we end up on websites. Basically a website can be accessed through an IP address or through a domain name. Because IP addresses are not easy to remember we use domain names to get on a certain website such as google, facebook or twitter. A domain name has three components: the name, the dot, and the extension. A domain name has to be registered by an individual person or a company and usually there is a flat yearly registration or a one-time fee. It is not possible to register a domain name multiple times, or to register an already existing name. Maybe it sounds complicated, but in the following I will explain how domain registration works and how you should choose the right name and extension for your website.
Choosing a good domain name and extension
The domain name business is huge! Thousands of domains are registered, purchased and transferred every day. The most popular top level domain extension is COM, followed by NET, ORG and BIZ. These extensions are mostly used for international websites, but there are other, country specific extensions like US, CO.UK, DE, ES, and lots of others.
Before choosing a domain extension, it is good to know what the target audience of your website will be. If your website will provides information, service or sell goods in a certain country, probably you should focus on getting a country specific extension, if you want to go global; a COM domain would the best choice.
After deciding on the extension you can try to come up with a good domain name. You can either register your name if you are planning to run a personal blog or your company’s name if you are building a website for your business. If your website will be about a certain topic, you can register use keywords or topic related terms as domain name. It really depends on your imagination and the availability of the domain name.
The easiest way to search for available domain names is to use a domain name registrar company like Name.com or Namecheap. They offer very good registration and renewal rates and are registering a wide range of extensions too.
Choosing a good business domain name
If you are running a business, selling services or products online, probably you should be thinking on building a brand. A brand that is easy to remember, stands out, represents your business and sounds good.
Try to avoid numbers and hyphens, those look unprofessional to most users and can be easily mixed up, resulting in redirecting your potential customers to another company having similar name but without the number or hyphen.
Do not use already registered brand names, firs off it is bad business practice, second you can rather lose the trademark domain or can get sued by the owner of the trademark.
Try to get a .COM domain and if you are really serious about your business maybe you want to register all the top level domains (TLDs) to secure your brand. You don’t have to register all the extensions, but only those you consider important.
Remember to renew your domain names in time otherwise you can lose them and never be able to recover. Domain registrars will always notify you multiple times by email when a domain is due to expire.
How to register an already existing domain?
There are two ways to get access to a domain name that has been already registered by another person. You could go the long way and wait for the domain to expire, hoping that the previous owner will not renew it. Most likely you will not get the desired domain this way. The other option is to contact the owner of the domain and convince it to sell the domain to you by offering a good deal. Purchasing a domain from someone could be really expensive and in most of the cases it may not worth it but it always worth a try if you are really obsessed with that particular name.
Private domain registration
When registering a domain name, you will have to provide real data: your name, address, phone number, email, business name, etc. This will be available for the public, unless you use a privacy service. For additional cost you can have your privacy protected and hide your personal information from the public. This is beneficial because you will not get spammed on your email address or you won’t get late night phone calls from strangers who are just picking up your phone number from the whois database.
Expert advice on domain registration
As we mentioned before, it is best to register the .COM if it is available, if not go with other top level extensions. Always use trusted registrars and don’t choose companies that are not accredited by ICANN.