Where can you buy a domain name? What other things should you be thinking about when you buy your domain name? If you find yourself wondering that, you’re not alone. Many business owners don’t know where to buy a domain name, or even what a domain name is.
We’re going to explain the domain name and things you should be thinking about when you’re registering a domain. By the end, you’ll not only understand what a domain name is, but you’ll know how to find the best deal (while avoiding a shady contract), and how the domain name relates to a hosting service, email server, and database server.
Let’s get going!
What is a Domain Name?
If you have a website, you need a domain name – there’s no way around it. Your domain is your territory: it’s the tiny little piece of the web that you’ve claimed for yourself and your website. It’s where your website “lives.”
Much like buying a piece of land, you stake your claim make it your own. To do that, your domain needs a unique name that distinguishes it from all the rest and points to only a single website. That is, of course, your “domain name.” Our domain name, for example, is www.inmotionhosting.com.
Domains can also be used to cover common variations for the spelling of the website name. For example, if you have a commonly misspelled website name, then you may want to cover the different ways it can be spelled. Doing this might cost you a little more since you have to register the variations, but you’ll be able to get your customers to the right place. When you redirect people to the proper location using a spelling variant of your domain name, you are using what’s called a parked domain. The parked domain’s main purpose is to point to the correct website domain name. You can only create parked domains with a hosting service.
If a domain name is available then an Internet user can pay to reserve it for their use – typically for a period of one year, but sometimes longer.
Buy a Domain Name
Coming up with your first domain name is almost a rite of passage for website owners. It’s fun and exciting and allows you to begin to define your online brand: even before they visit your website, your domain name can tell visitors what to expect. Is it fun? Serious? Professional? Silly?
Most business owners, of course, tend to use their company name or some variation of it just because it makes it easier for their audience to find and interact with them.
Bottom line: anyone can buy any domain name, as long as it’s not currently in use by someone else. There are dozens of online tools that you can use to search for a domain name and check its availability against various TLD extensions (.com, .org, .edu, etc.).
Once you’ve decided on the domain name you’d like to use, your next step is to choose a registrar – a company that will register your domain name for you. Registrars vary in price, terms of service, management options, ease-of-use and more, so it’s worth it to do a little research.
Here are a few things you should keep in mind:
- Accreditation: your registrar should be ICANN accredited. ICANN maintains a list of accredited registrars and ensures that they adhere to certain standards of accountability and compliance regulations.
- Terms and conditions: Take the time to read the terms set by your registrar, as they can vary greatly from provider to provider. Things to look for include an ownership clause, reseller rights, and transfer policy.
- Price: Price can vary greatly from provider to provider, but typically cost $10 – $15/year for just a domain name. Keep in mind that many providers include additional services such as customer support, website builders, and SEO, and those products will be reflected in the cost.
- Customer support: Some providers include free 24/7 live customer support while others will make you wait a week for an email response. Find out their policy beforehand because support can be critical when it comes to your domain – especially if you’re a first-time website owner who is likely to have a lot of questions!
Keep An Eye On These
It should go without saying, but not everyone you do business with will always be on the up-and-up. When it comes to your business website – and your livelihood – you don’t want to risk taking that chance. Before you sign on with any registrar, ask yourself the following questions:
- Are there any hidden fees? Sometimes those “low-cost” domain names aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Sure, you get the actual domain name for a rock-bottom fee – but the real cost may be far greater. Many providers will use a low up-front price to lure you in, only to slam you with astronomical renewal fees, make you pay to transfer your name, or push you to buy add-ons that you don’t need.
- Is my privacy protected? Because domain details are publicly listed in the WHOIS directory, many business owners choose to keep their information private. Some registrars, however, don’t give you that option. Some even sell your information to third parties for marketing purposes. Check your terms of service and make sure you have the option to keep your private information private, and that it won’t be used for commercial gain.
- How supportive is their customer support? This one is tricky, as the only real way to determine the legitimacy of a registrar’s customer support staff is through online reviews or testimonials – but with a little research, it can be done! Many companies offer “customer support” that is really just a thinly veiled marketing scam. You want to be sure that when you call for help, that’s what you’re going to get – not an attempt to up sell you or force you into purchasing add-ons.
Can I Buy a Domain from InMotion Hosting?
Yes, you can. InMotion Hosting provides the service to register a domain, and connect it to your web hosting. You can go to InMotion’s Domain page and search to see if the domain name you want to use is available, and complete your domain name purchase. Existing customers can register a new domain name through the Account Management Panel.
You can always register a domain name through other accredited domain registrars. If you do so, then remember that in order to use a domain name with an InMotion website hosting account you will need to change the name servers of the domain name to point to InMotion.
Using your Domain Name with a Hosting Service
When you purchase a domain you should also keep in mind where you’re going to use it. Especially, if you’re not using an InMotion Hosting account. It is important to remember that you can purchase a domain and not include hosting service. Not having a hosting subscription means you can’t park a domain or control its DNS through InMotion’s interface. You will still be able to control its name servers, but a hosting service is needed if you want to set up a website.
What is a hosting service? Simply put, a hosting service is a subscription where you rent space on a server in order to house your website files. The hosting server then serves your website to the internet through your domain name. The hosting website can include services like a database server and an email server.
What is a database server? Most website hosting services include the option to have a database server. Basically, it’s software that is dedicated to maintaining and managing a database. This is important, not only for websites but for many applications. Modern website applications like WordPress use a structure where a database is central to their operation. It increases the efficiency of the application by storing many pieces of the website in tables for access when it’s required. Most hosting services include a database server for MySQL.
What is an Email Server? The other common service that you’ll get with a hosting account is email. Most hosting accounts will include an email server to manage the email based on your selected domain name. Email services will include support for POP3 or IMAP protocols, webmail access, and spam protection. The hosting service gives you access to an interface where you can create and manage email accounts. You’re also able to connect email clients like Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird, or Apple Mail so that you can manage your email or multiple email accounts through a familiar interface.
You can see the relationship between a domain name, hosting service, database, and email server in the infographic below:
Brainstorming your domain name can be huge fun. But when it comes time to buy a domain name, many people don’t know all of the factors they should consider. The process doesn’t have to be tricky or stressful. With just a little research, you should be able to find a reputable company or even register it directly through InMotion Hosting.
And, if you’re buying a domain, don’t forget about how and where you’re going to use it. Do you need a hosting service with an email and database server to go along with it? Knowing these things ahead of time will help prevent future growing pains.
Ready to get started? Reach out to our support team today – they’ll tell you everything you need to know about registering your domain and subscribing to our hosting services without any shady sales gimmicks.