Registering a domain name is a simple and straightforward process once you get the hang of it. The first time however, the process can leave you with a few open questions.
Where should I register my domain name?
There are thousands of domain registrars so the choice can be daunting. The largest domain registrar is GoDaddy.com which recently just had its 50 millionth registered domain name. GoDaddy has excellent pricing and great customer service. GoDaddy.com also offers a many other services such as email and hosting if you want to keep all of your services with one provider. They also offer a simple and pain free registration process that can be done in minutes.
How do I choose a domain name?
Choosing a domain name is just like choosing a name for you business. It should be unique and represent your website. Avoid names that can be easily misspelled or are too long. Domain names are allowed to be up to 63 characters in length but a shorter, one or two word domain name will be much more recognizable.
What to do if all the domain names are taken?
Get Creative! Try separating the words in your domain with a dash or try variations of the words. GoDaddy.com also offers many helpful suggestions when you submit a domain that is already taken.
Which domain suffix to buy?
Domain suffixes are actually called TLDs or top level domains. There are many TLDs but the main ones include: com, org, net, info, co, me, us, biz, and mobi. If you just starting a website for fun or personal use you may do well and save some money by just purchasing a single TLD. If however, you are starting your business online you would be better off buying the major TLDs for your domain name so you will have better protection and control over your brand. Most TLDs only cost between $2 and $20 per year so you should reserve about $100 in your budget if you are starting your online business for buying domain names.
What is a Certified Domain and do I need one?
A certified domain is an process of verification that the purchaser of a domain name can optional go through for a small anual fee. Through information verification and a phone interview your ownership of the domain will be confirmed and you can display a certified logo to your websites viewers. While there is no downside to this additional step your money would be better spent towards a higher level of certification such as that provided by Verisign.
What about Domain Privacy or Protected Registration?
Privacy and protected registrations simply hide your personal information from the WHOIS queries (for more information, see Who is DNS?). The registrars do this by submitting the domain with their information instead of yours under the WHOIS record. If you’re registering a .us domain, then privacy is not an option – you are required to list your contact information under this TLD. Even if domain privacy is an option, you should be weary to choose it. First of all, the privacy feature will cost more every year and you will need to register it on all your domains to be effective which can add up. Second, in this day and age this privacy can often be thwarted by looking up your organization and finding other listings such as the white pages or social network profiles. Finally, it is still a legal gray area over who actually owns the domain. Ownership of a domain name is verified by the WHOIS record so if your information is not listed then you may be causing yourself some legal headaches in the future.
How many years should I register my domain for?
As long as you think you’ll need it. When you register your domain you can also set it up to auto-renew and leave a credit card on file so you won’t have to worry about it. Typically I recommend for someone just starting out that you opt for the 2 year registration. 1 year can go quick when running a website and it will be a nice expensive to attribute to the bootstrapping costs that you won’t have to worry about starting your second year.