A domain name is your website address. This is what your customers are typing into the search bar on their browser to reach your website. This article aims to educate you on some of the basic principles of domain name registration. Please note that your domain name is one of two pieces required for having a live website. Your website will also require a live webserver to keep it online. A domain name is simply an address for connecting to said server.
Are Domain Names Expensive?
To register a brand new domain name, you should expect to spend anywhere between ten to twenty dollars for the year. Prices for domain names tend to vary based on the provider. If you are looking to purchase a domain name that has already been registered, you can expect to pay much more. Domain names are treated like digital real estate. Owning a good one can hold some value. It is recommended to purchase a new domain name, especially if you aren’t familiar with domain transfers.
Where To Register Your Domain Name
Where you register your domain name won’t make much difference to your business in the long run. There are several popular providers that offer some very enticing deals for first-time buyers. A domain name provider is called a registrar. Domain name registrars know that once you’ve purchased a domain name, you will most likely keep it until the end of time.
Choosing Your Domain Name
Ideally, you want to choose a domain name that has your business name, service, or product in the name. This helps your customers to quickly identify what your website is about. If you are running your own business as a sole proprietor, it might make sense to use your first and last name as your domain name. Choosing a domain name should feel like a good fit.
The extension is how your domain name ends. The most commonly used extension is “.com” and works for almost every website. If you are providing a service or product to customers in a certain locale, it might make sense to use country-specific extensions (.ca). Certain extensions have implications for what type of business this website is about. A “.net” extensions may lead customers to think this business is based on the web. It is best practice to stick to using an extension that doesn’t confuse readers.
Every domain name, by law, is required to have your personal or business information attached. This is your WHOIS data. It will have your name, phone number, and address. Paying for WHOIS privacy masks this data to people who are performing a public lookup of your domain name’s data.
Adding privacy to your domain name is always recommended. Some providers will charge more than the actual price of the domain name to have this feature. This is common practice and there is little to do about getting around it.
Using Your Domain Name For Email
It is possible to use your domain name for having a personalized email address with your domain name as the email address (firstname.lastname@example.org). It isn’t difficult to set up, but this function has a strong dependency on the type of web hosting you’re using. Mail servers are typically handled by the same service as your web hosting server.
Can Domain Names Be Changed?
No. Every domain name is unique and will be registered for its exact name and extension. If you want to use a different domain name, you would need to register another domain name and start using that one. It can become a headache to continually change domain names. It confuses your customers and hinders your overall online visibility. The best practice is to choose one domain name and use it for as long as your business is open. It is possible to switch to a different domain, but it requires some technical re-arranging.
When Your Domain Name Is Taken
Every day, thousands of good domain names are being snatched up. Many of them are being held onto in hopes that someone will come looking to buy them. It is possible to contact these sellers and make an offer to them. Transferring ownership of a domain is commonplace in this industry but is not recommended for people who are unfamiliar with the process.
It is highly recommended to adjust your expectations and be ready to pick a domain name that is available.
Can A Domain Name Have Special Characters?
Yes and no. Because of the nature of web protocol, certain characters cannot be used in your domain name. The only special character that you can use in your domain name is a dash/hyphen ( – ). Other special characters would interrupt the protocol used for connecting to the website.
Some quick notes on domain name formatting:
- Domain names are not case sensitive
- You can use numbers in your domain name
- You can not use dots ( . ), apostrophes ( ‘ ), or underscores ( _ ).