Understanding Domain Name Registration

Understanding Domain Name Registration header image

When you use the internet you generally type in the name of a website – also known as a domain name – into an internet browser. That name is then searched for in the domain name servers and then connected to your web browser to allow you to see the contents of that location.

Domain registration is the process of registering the name so that it can be used on the internet. It allows for a person or group to claim a specific domain name.  

The following guide will be going through all of the common questions and concerns of domain registration. 

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What is Domain Name Registration?

In order for website names to be recognized on the internet,  a system was put in place to register domain names.  There is also an organization that is responsible for the registration process, name conventions, and governance of the registrars throughout the world.  This organization, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), is an international, community-driven organization and is not owned or governed by any one country.

In their own words, ICANN is defined as:

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is an internationally organized, non-profit corporation that has responsibility for Internet Protocol (IP) address space allocation, protocol identifier assignment, generic (gTLD) and country code (ccTLD) Top-Level Domain Name System (DNS) management, and root server system management functions. These services were originally performed under a U.S. Government contract by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) and other entities. ICANN now performs the IANA function.

As a private-public partnership, ICANN is dedicated to preserving the operational stability of the Internet; to promoting competition; to achieving broad representation of global Internet communities; and to developing policy appropriate to its mission through bottom-up, consensus-based processes.

ICANN Archives

Simply put, domain registration is the process of registering a domain name through an official domain registrar.  

When you register a domain name, it is placed in the DNS and associated with an IP address.  This allows for you to find the location of that domain name using your internet browser.

Registered domain names are unique to prevent having multiple websites with the same name. Registered domains are not registered indefinitely.  The registration must be renewed periodically.

What is a Domain Registrar?

A domain registrar (sometimes called a domain host) is an accredited entity that takes your domain name registration and adds it to the domain name system so that it can be recognized on the internet.

Domain registrars are accredited through ICANN and must go through an accreditation process that involves financial as well as organizational requirements before they can be approved.

What is a Domain Name?

A domain name is the letters and numbers that represent an internet location identified by an IP address.  When you look at a URL (which includes the domain name), it can be broken into several parts:

URL breakdown graphic
  • Protocol is what is being used on the browser to connect with the website location.
  • Subdomain is an additional part of your domain name.  “WWW” is generally created automatically for you and was originally used to identify that it was on the “World Wide Web”.
    • An example of a subdomain is other.domain-name.com. “Other” is the name of the subdomain that resides within your main domain.
  • Domain name is the part of the URL that identifies your site with letters or numbers.  A root domain is a combination of the domain name and the top-level domain.  A domain name represents the IP address with a name that makes it easily identifiable.
  • Top-level domain (TLD) is the final part of the domain name and used to identify the location based on geography or function.  The original seven generic TLDs included .com, .net, .org, .int, .edu, .gov, and .mil. 

Choosing the Right TLD

As of June 2020, there are over 1500 TLDs.  This makes the choice of your TLD a little more difficult, but it also opens it up to have a domain name that can be closer to the business or entity that you’re trying to represent.  For example, if you’re a designer, you can actually register a domain name with the TLD of .design.

Here’s some information about the TLDs being used today.

Sponsored TLD

Sponsored TLDs have a sponsor that represents a narrow community associated with that TLD. Some examples are .gov, .edu, .mil, so unless you are a part of these organizations/communities, you won’t be using these.

Original TLD

These are some of the first TLDs created, and there are only 3 available for open use as of now, .com, .org, and .net. These are very common and the majority of internet users know them.

If you are able to find the URL you want with one of these TLDs and it is affordable, it’s not a bad idea to buy it. It isn’t very unique but consumers are comfortable with them and know for the most part they can be trusted.

Country/Geographic Code

There are 255 country code TLDs.  And yes, that is more than there are countries. Using a country code can be good for local SEO. If you wish to keep your business/website/focus tied to one specific country a country code may be for you.

There are parameters that may exist depending on the country code you would like to use, so be sure to check those out before starting the domain registration process.

Geographic TLDs can be more niche, using city names (.amsterdam) or full country names (.wales), or they can be broader, using a region such as .asia. This further increases the use of SEO and targets specific audiences.

ICANN-era Generic TLD

The ICANN-era Generic TLD is all about what your company is or represents. With options such as .music, .video, .expert, even .mom, the possibilities are almost endless. There are only so many, but the variety is stunning. If you want to make an impression with your URL, this is the kind of TLD you want. People, in general, remember things that are out of the norm and want to know more about them.

While these types of TLDs may be more expensive in some cases, it is worth it to have a unique URL. These are good for businesses who want to show that they’ve kept up with the times and enjoy innovation and new technology. It’s also good for businesses who like to have fun and not be a part of the corporate world that a lot of the population seems to dislike.

When it comes down to your domain registration, in the end, you need what works, what you can afford, and what you feel comfortable with. As you can see each type of TLD has its benefits, and it is up to you to decide which of those benefits is what you are looking for. And if you’re looking for a domain, head over to our options and get started with finding your perfect domain.

Since InMotion Hosting is a domain reseller the available TLDs include: .com, .net, .org, .us, .biz, and .in. For more information, please see Registering a Domain Name.

What Makes a Great Domain Name?

There are several factors that contribute to a truly great domain name:

  1. The top-level domain. The TLD is the part of a URL that comes after the actual domain name, such as .com. A good TLD will help to identify your domain and let potential viewers know what to expect.
  2. Spelling. NO MISTAKES! Before you click yes to purchase your domain, make sure there are no spelling errors. Of course, if your company name or the name you want is misspelled intentionally, that’s fine (but not recommended).
  3. Memorability. How easy is your domain to remember? Is it short and right to the point or does it drag on and include the full name of your business? Is it unique?

Remember that correctly spelled words are easier to remember. So, it’s important to get your domain spelling right! Limiting your domain to a maximum of three words also makes it easier to remember.

Additionally, the flow of the domain name is a big part of being able to remember it. For example, Inmotionhosting.com is two words, reads easy, and it’s memorable. On the other hand, Inmotionwebanddomainhosting.com would be a lot to remember, has unneeded information, and is too long.

How unique is your domain? How does it look when compared to similar websites, and does it stand out?

Being unique does have its limits though, as you don’t want a domain name that is so unusual that people are confused by it.

Why is a Great Domain Name Important?

The difference between a great domain name and a not-so-great domain name can make or break your site. Here’s why:

  1. Increased views. With technology ever-increasing the speed and ease of doing pretty much anything, internet users have to come to love “fast and easy.” When you have a domain that is easy to type and doesn’t take a long time to access, people will be inclined to go to your site. They might not know everything you offer, but they will be intrigued and want to learn more.
  2. Credibility. Using a good TLD helps lend credibility and recognition to your website. Having a good, descriptive domain name helps to give the sense that if you go to the website, you will find credible and useful information.
  3. Branding. Think of a website as your online body. It has all the important parts and information that you show to the world. If a website is your body, then a domain is your identity. It is what people know you by, and you don’t want an identity that misrepresents who you are. Before you complete your domain name registration you want to be sure that what you are choosing best represents your company. This reinforces your brand, its memorability, and legitimacy.

What if Your Domain Name is Taken?

When you find out the .com version of your domain is not available, it’s very common for the domain registrar to recommend that you get the .net or .org domain. Our friends at WPBeginner recommend “If you want to make any kind of business website, then you should always use a .com domain name extension. It gives your website a familiar address and makes your business look more professional and established.” If the .com extension isn’t available, we have included some creative tips to still get a .com domain for your business.

Add Additional Words

Say my ideal domain name is BelleviewDogFood.com. If it’s not available, let’s add additional words to it. Let’s try TheBellviewDogFood.com or BelleviewDogFoodCo.com. Look at additional words that mean the same thing and convey the same message. Try to keep your domain as short as possible.

Add Action

Adding an action word to a domain is so simple and it may mean that your website stands out even more. Let’s go back to Belleview Dog Food for an example. We could add action by making it TryBelleviewDogFood.com or GetBelleviewDogFood.com. Depending on your domain, you should be able to add an action word that fits your domain. This also acts as a call to action for your website.

Add Location to Your Domain

This concept really works well if you have a physical location and can include either your city, state or street in your domain. If the company is located in Littleton, Colorado, maybe instead of Belleview, we could use ColoradoDogFood.com, LittletonDogFood.com, or LocalDogFood.com. This doesn’t keep your business name in the domain, but it is a creative option still allowing for a .com extension.

Look for similar words

Instead of focusing on a domain name that is specific to your business name, be creative and switch up your business name with words that mean the same thing. For our Belleview Dog Food example, it could be BelleviewWoofFood.com, BelleviewDoggieFood.com, or BelleviewDogDinner.com. These words mean the same thing and convey the same message, allowing you to use the .com extension while not being too far off of your business name.

Make up your own word

We all know of Google and Zillow, these are companies with names that were made up. A fun way to almost guarantee that you’ll be able to get a .com domain is to take your business name and make up a word. Try combining your business name to make a new word. Back to our Belleview Dog Food, we could come up with something like bellood.com, belldogfoo.com, or viogfood.com. These are attempts at combining Belleview Dog Food to create a new word for a domain.

The Importance of Domain Authority

Domain Authority (DA) isn’t a new idea in the world of SEO. Still, many website owners have never heard the term, much less understand what it means. It’s a search engine ranking developed by Moz, and it’s one of the most important numbers when it comes to SEO. After Google stopped publishing Page Rank, it became the go-to resource for estimating site performance.

We’re going to tell you everything you need to know about domain authority, from how it’s calculated, to how to improve your score.

Before we get going, we’re going to share a few facts about domain authority to help you better understand how it works:

  • Moz uses over 40 metrics to arrive at their score, including MozRank, MozTrust, and other Moz-proprietary factors
  • Despite the complicated metrics, DA is thought to be mainly influenced by the quality of your website’s links
  • Sites are ranked on a scale of 1-100, and it’s very difficult to get a perfect score
  • The higher you move up on the scale, the harder it is to improve your rank. That doesn’t mean you can’t improve your score. In fact, there are several proven tactics to help you do so.

How to Find Your DA

If you want to improve your site’s DA, it’s helpful to first know what your DA is. Moz has a free tool called Open Site Explorer that you can use to check your domain authority. Just follow these simple steps:

  • Go to moz.com/researchtools/ose
  • Enter your URL in the search bar
  • Hit “search”

When the results page pops up, your DA will be listed under the “Authority” heading. If your site is brand new, it will likely have a fairly low rank. If you’ve been working on building links and authority for a while, it might be somewhere in the middle.

No matter what your score is, these are the steps you can take to improve it:

Perform a Link Audit

If you want a great DA ranking, you need a healthy link profile. What does that mean? Your link profile is all of the backlinks your site has earned, and a “healthy” link profile is one that adheres to Google’s guidelines.

There are some backlink strategies, which Google refers to as “schemes,” that will get your site penalized, including:

  • Buying or selling links that pass PageRank, including exchanging money for links or posts that contain links
  • Excessive link exchanges (“link to me and I’ll link to you”)
  • Using automated programs to create links to your site
  • Hidden links embedded in widgets
  • And more (see the full list on the Google Documentation page on Link Schemes)

There are several tools you can use to perform a link audit, like SEMrush Backlink Audit and Majestic.

If you find any links that qualify as a “scheme” (and it’s likely you will), it’s important to disavow them to help raise your ranking.

Make Sure Your SEO is Up To Par

According to Moz, in order to improve your DA, you have to improve your overall SEO. That means going back and making sure all your ducks are in a row before you do anything else. Important elements include overall site structure and navigability, meta tags, header tags, alt tags, keywords, and more. (For more general SEO tips, see our SEO for Beginners Guide.)

Create Linkable Content

It should go without saying that if you want people to link back to your content, you have to first create content that people will want to link to. That means your work (whether it’s blogs, infographics, videos, or something else) needs to be high-quality and that you need to produce a lot of it.

Link to Your Own Content

Just as important when it comes to DA is quality internal links. What that means is linking back to your own content within one of your posts – for example, when we provided the link for our SEO blog above, that was a backlink. This not only helps the reader find other content they may find useful, but it helps the search engines crawl your site.

Social Media Counts

Having a strong social media presence can also help your DA. If your content is regularly being shared and clicked on, it helps to create more authority around your website and content. Consider using social media platforms that make the most sense for your business, and focusing on making a difference there instead of across all platforms.

Building Domain Authority Takes Time

Once you’ve followed the steps above, it’s time to sit back and wait. Building DA is a long-term game and you’re not going to see immediate results. In fact, you may notice that other websites that have been around longer than you have a higher authority- with age comes more authority. When you have a website over a long period of time, regularly updating it with new content will help!

5 Reasons to Transfer a Domain Name

Your website is growing, traffic is increasing daily, you’re thinking about getting a new hosting plan, but what about a domain name transfer? Who you host your domain with is a vital part of the security of your website. We’re going to go over some reasons why a domain transfer should be your next move.

Why do you Need to Transfer?

All legitimate registrars are accredited by ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), so before you even think about transferring, make sure the new domain host is accredited.

But let’s get down to the important part, why should you transfer your domain? We have five reasons why a domain transfer is beneficial to you and your website.

  1. Security. One of the primary focal points of your website is security. You’re not going to be happy if customers start complaining that they can’t access your site or it is being directed to a different site. This may be the result of a domain name hacker. This type of hacker is holding your domain name ransom, usually for money. In order to combat this, make sure your new Registrar offers a domain name lock. This keeps the domain from being changed until you change it. Also, ensure that your new host will notify you of any changes to the domain, whether completed by you or otherwise.
  2. Customer Service. If your website is growing, you will need access to support in many areas and your domain host is no exception. In addition, to support during the domain name transfer, make sure your new domain host offers support after the fact. Some hosts don’t have a support team but just have a sales team that tries to get you to buy additional add-ons.
  3. User Experience. How easy is it to access your domain name settings? If you get frustrated when trying to do a small task or change, imagine trying to do a big one. Making sure that any needed changes with your domain are easy to do. This not only saves you time and stress, but it will also benefit the visitors.
  4. Privacy. This differs from security, as it pertains solely to you and your domain name. While all Registrars will say that your privacy is of utmost importance, this may not always be the case. Some don’t address all situations in their privacy agreement, so it is best to do as much research as possible. This includes searching their website, doing a Google search for privacy-related matters, and customer reviews. Customer reviews, although sometimes extreme, can really help out in these cases. If there is a common theme in the reviews, chances are it’s true.
  5. Cost. Paying too much is never a good thing, and paying too much for a company that does too little is even worse. Not all Registrars are created equal, and neither is their pricing. When researching a new domain name host, you want to take into account all of the above and determine if that service is worth the cost. This will help you stay within your budget and get the best bang for your buck.

When looking for a new domain name host, use the five reasons above as your checklist. This will help you determine if a domain name host is right for you.

Your Domain Name Transfer

InMotion Hosting not only hosts domains but has a great tool to ensure that, if needed, a domain name transfer is both easy and stress-free. Click here to find out more information about transferring your domain name.

Why You Should Register Your Domain with InMotion Hosting

When deciding to go through the domain name registration process, you want to make sure that you are choosing a host that has your best interest in mind. This is why we recommend going with InMotion Hosting.

Not only do we provide a fantastic service, but we’ve been hosting domains since 2001, so we know a thing or two. Let us show you why InMotion is the best option for you.

Domain Privacy

When deciding to register your domain, you must register your information with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). ICANN is the gatekeeper, so to speak, for the internet.

Because all websites are assigned a specific IP address, your domain needs to be pointed to that address in order to function properly,  ICANN ensures this happens. When registering a domain, you must provide information to ICANN such as name, address, email, and phone #.

InMotion Hosting offers Domain Privacy Protection, allowing you to use our information to register with ICANN, instead of yours. This is beneficial for security and keeping your vital information out of the hands of somebody who doesn’t have the best intentions for you or your website.

Hosting Options

Not only do we offer domain name registration, we also offer some of the best web hosting around. Every variety of plan is represented here as well, WordPress, Dedicated, Shared, Cloud, and so on.

Syncing your domain name and web hosts is a smart idea for your website. With all the information in one place, you ensure faster speeds and faster responses to any issues that arise. Also, if you choose one of our hosting plans, you get a FREE domain or a FREE transfer.

Support

Having somebody there to help you when you are in need is a great feeling. That’s why InMotion offers 24/7 support. You can chat online, call, email, or even Skype whenever you need. We are just as invested in your website as you are and want it to perform the best it can. Not only do we offer 24/7 support, we have a large database of Do-It-Yourself information as well. No matter the issue, we will always be there to help you out.

Domain Name Registration Extras

This is where InMotion starts to stretch the lead. The amount of extras that we offer with our hosting plans, both domain, and web, is above what any other host can offer. Here’s just a small list:

  • Web Builder. Sure a lot of hosts offer web builders, but not like ours. We have decided to give our customers access to BoldGrid, a WordPress plugin that makes building a website a breeze. Check it out on our Website Creator page.
  • Web Design. Not only can you build your own website, but if that is not your style we will build one for you. Using our QuickStarter offering, we will build you a mobile-friendly website and deliver it within 2 business days.  We will walk you through the process and conduct an interview to get an idea of what kind of website you want and what you want it to do.
  • Free Transfer. If you end up wanting to bring your website over to us, we will transfer it for free. Our process ensures that your website will not suffer downtime as well.
  • Free Setup. When registering a domain, the setup is easy, and better yet, free.
  • Automatic Renewal. There is nothing worse than your domain expiring, and somebody else grabbing it before you can. You don’t have to worry about that with InMotion. We will automatically renew your domain to you unless you tell us otherwise. When you have less to worry about, you have more you can do.

Domain name registration doesn’t have to be hard or complicated or stressful. That’s why our domain and web hosting plans offer so much. We want your experience to be as pleasant as it can be and we will do all we can to ensure that it is.

What to do After You’ve Registered Your Domain

Purchasing a domain name is the first step towards getting your business online. But once you’ve come up with the perfect moniker for your new website, what’s next?

A lot, as it turns out. Choosing a domain name is just the beginning of creating an online presence. Keep reading to learn the next steps.

Sync Your Domain and Web Hosting

If you want to get your website up and running, you’ll need to connect it with a web hosting account. Web hosting comes in a variety of forms, like shared hosting, WordPress hosting, and dedicated servers, so it’s important to really understand your business needs before deciding.

For example, if you anticipate having a fairly simple website with low traffic volumes, a shared server will likely do. But if you run a high-volume retail establishment, and you expect those numbers to carry over online, you’ll need something a little more robust.

Once you’ve decided on a hosting service and purchased a plan, you’ll have to change your domain’s nameservers to your hosting company’s specified nameservers. Though it sounds complicated, it’s actually quite easy:

  • Log into your domain name registrar and locate your nameservers
  • Copy and past the nameservers provided by your host into the box where your existing nameservers are located. If you’re using InMotion Hosting, our nameservers are: ns1.inmotionhosting.com and ns2.inmotionhosting.com. (Note: These nameservers are not valid for all accounts. Talk with your host’s technical support team if you require further assistance.)
  • Voila! Your accounts are linked. It can take up to 12-24 hours for this change to propagate.

For more information changing your nameservers in an InMotion Hosting account, please see our tutorial How to Change your Domain’s Nameservers

Depending on what company you purchased your domain from, you may be able to get hosting from the same source – and typically they will handle the process of linking things up for you.

Get a free domain when choosing InMotion Hosting for your website.

Create a Website

Once you have a domain name and a hosting service, you can get started on creating your website. When it comes down to it, there are really two options: hire a website designer to do it for you or tackle the project yourself.

Hiring a website designer will cost a bit more but requires less of your time. In most cases, you will have to provide the designer with your concept, content (images, logos, blogs, etc.), and business information and they will do the rest.

The web design experts at InMotion Hosting can create a mobile-friendly, custom-designed website based on your specifications in just a matter of days.

Creating your own website may sound daunting, but it’s really just a matter of investing a little time and effort. Website creation tools like Website Creator make the process super easy, even if you don’t have any coding experience. Here are some great reasons the Website Creator is a great tool for building your site:

  • A simple wizard walks you through the entire process of creating your website, complete with theme, content, and plugins.
  • The included content was written by people in your industry, so the lingo is appropriate.
  • Your website and all of its pages can be worked on in a staging area so you can see how it will look before going live.
  • You can preview your content on a desktop, tablet, or smartphone before publishing and edit for each environment separately if you want to.
  • Because it’s part of WordPress, there is a HUGE community of support.

Other Things You Can Do

Now that you’ve gotten your website up and running, what else can you do with your domain name?

  • Create a domain-specific email address. If you’re using your website for business then you’ll want an email that matches your new domain name. Chances are your hosting company will provide at least one free email address to go along with your website, so check with them before signing up for any other services.
  • Secure matching social media handles. If you plan on being active on social media, ideally your profile names will match your website name. It will not only make it easier for clients and prospects to find you, but it will create a stronger brand identity.
  • Get business cards. Even if you mostly do business online, you’ll want to have cards to hand out when you meet someone face-to-face. Make sure you get a fresh set printed with your new domain name on them so people know where to locate you online.

What Happens if you Don’t Want Your Domain Name Anymore?

Suffering a little buyer’s remorse? It happens. Sometimes inspiration strikes and you make decisions without really thinking about it.

If that happened with your domain name and what seemed great three days ago no longer sounds so hot, it’s not difficult to fix. There are several aftermarket sites where you can sell your no-longer-needed domain name and they usually only charge a small percentage of the sale.


Choosing a domain name is a fun and exciting process, and it opens up a lot of doors in the online world. The registration process is easy and you can provide many benefits for your online presence including email and social media with your domain name. Register your site today with InMotion and jump start your online business with a great website!

To learn more about hosting a site with InMotion check out our various hosting options and services at our home page!

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