Where can you buy a 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 lay the whole process out for you from start to finish. By the end, you’ll not only understand what a domain name is and why you need one, but you’ll know how to find the best deal (and avoid getting scammed into a shady contract).
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.
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 upsell you or force you into purchasing add-ons.
Brainstorming your domain name can be huge fun. But when it comes time to buy a domain name, many people don’t know where to turn. The process doesn’t have to be tricky or stressful – and with just a little research, you should be able to find a reputable company.
Ready to get started? Reach out to our support team today – they’ll tell you everything you need to know about registering your domain (without any shady sales gimmicks).