If you want to start a blog, online business, or any website, you need a good domain name. After all, it is the address that people remember to visit a website. For a business, it becomes a brand that people remember you by.
Registering a domain name is very easy. In short, here’s how:
- Pick a domain name and TLD
- Choose an available domain
- Purchase and register the domain name
- Verify your domain name and point it to your hosting
- Secure your personal information (WHOIS protection)
In this article, I will go through each step and explain how to buy a domain name.
What is a domain name?
Simply put, a domain name is the web address that people type in their browser’s URL bar to visit a specific site.
Since the internet is a vast network of computers interconnected to each other, each one of them is assigned a specific number to identify called an IP address, which looks something like this: 192.168.0.1
A domain name is what substitutes this address since it would be a hassle for people to memorize these strings of numbers for each individual website.
Once you enter a domain name into an address bar, the browser will pass a request to the DNS (domain name system) server, a database for each domain name associated with an IP address. Then, the DNS server will find which address corresponds to the requested domain name. From there, a request will be sent to the corresponding IP, and their page will appear in the browser.
A domain name usually consists of a second-level domain and TLD (top-level domains) or domain name extension. The second-level domain is the name you can input as the address to your site, while the TLD is the last segment of the domain name.
To learn more, do check the beginner’s guide on domain names and how it works.
Why do you need to register a domain name?
Since a domain name is technically a substitution, you might think that people can still visit a site by typing the IP address. While this is true in some cases, there are types of web hosting service that does not allow you to do that.
For instance, accessing a site through directly typing IP addresses is not possible when using shared hosting. Since one physical server is shared with other websites in shared hosting, the request would be invalid as the website would not be associated with a unique IP address.
Moreover, without registering your domain name, your website will not appear in search engines. That would mean losing organic traffic from search engine result pages, and not being able to capitalize on SEO.
Below are several more benefits of having a domain name:
- Easy to remember – a custom domain name with a .com domain extension is more memorable than a generic, free domain name that has the provider’s name in it.
- Building credibility – for business or individual purposes, having a domain name will give off a sense of professionalism and seriousness in the work.
- Own a unique email address – with a domain name, you can mail people from a customized address in the ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ format.
- Help with SEO – in many cases, having a domain name might increase your chances of ranking in search engine results of keywords related to your niche.
- Online presence – ranking better in search engines means attracting a wider range of audience. It will be easier for people who need your services to find you.
How much does a domain name cost?
Domain name prices are usually measured by uniqueness– the more popular the TLD, the pricier it will be. A .com extension that makes up 51.6% of websites on the internet, starts from $8.99 to $14.99 per year.
There are also premium domain names. This refers to pre-registered domain names that are usually short, brandable, and memorable for a specific niche. The prices can start from hundreds to millions of dollars. Most people who purchase premium domain names use it for business or sell it again later at a higher price for profit.
Keep in mind that buying a domain name is not permanent. You must renew your domain every year and pay the fee to do it. In some cases, you can opt for longer periods, also, your registrar might provide an automatic renewal feature.
Here’s a list of the most popular domain extension with their prices below according to Hostinger:
|Domain extensions||Starting price/year||Renewal fee/year|
These prices may differ due to several reasons. For instance, different domain registrars may offer different prices for each domain extension, as the registration fee varies. It’s best to buy a domain name when discount programs are available, like boxing day or black Friday.
What’s great, it’s also possible to get domain names for free as an additional offer to a package. Hostinger, for example, gives free domain registration with a purchase of most shared hosting packages.
How to buy and register a domain name?
I have covered the basics of what a domain name is, how it works, and how much it may cost. Now, let’s move on to learn how to buy and register for one.
Registering a domain name is very simple. First, you will need a domain registrar that is authorized by ICANN to get your preferred domain name registered. You can choose from a lot of different options as there are a lot of different registrars over the internet.
If your desired domain name is available, getting it registered is only a few clicks away. Below, I will go into details with each step to register a domain name.
1. Pick a domain name and TLD
A domain name is something that will represent you or your business. For the most part, it becomes the brand that the visitors first remember you by. Hence, to choose one might need a lot of brainstorming and consideration.
For starters, it’s always great to choose a domain name that represents your niche. That way, it will be easier for people who are interested in the same niche to find you. They might type a related keyword in the search engine and find your website, which means a good flow of extra traffic. For businesses, it might also be a sales lead.
Remember that simple is best – the simpler it looks, the easier it is for people to remember the name. Stay out of over-using symbols and numbers, and make sure there are no double letters (like snowpeasstore, toolsshop, and more) in your domain name. Using complicated domains may cause confusion and lost traffic.
When choosing a TLD or domain extension, prioritize using .com over others. A .com TLD is not only the most used but also the most trustworthy compared to other TLDs. Choosing an unpopular TLD that is mostly used by malicious sites may negatively affect your website ranking.
As an alternative, you can also use a TLD that best represents your website. For example, if the website offers products and services related to technology, using .tech might be much preferable. Just remember to check the ranking and not use anything that ranks too far from .com domain extensions.
Below are a few more tips to keep in mind when choosing domain names:
- Use a brandable domain name – A brandable domain name is unique, while a generic domain name is stuffed with keywords and hard to remember. Play around with keywords, mash it up and create something like ‘netflix’ or ‘tumblr’.
- Use domain name generators – This is helpful to gain ideas that you can further mix and match for a brandable domain name, or use as-is.
- Check for trademark – Registering for a domain name that is already trademarked may bring legal complications. Use a trademark search tool to avoid that.
2. Check domain availability
Once you’re done making a list of preferred domain names, use a domain checker to make sure that it is available to register. After entering the desired name, the tool will show if it’s available, and present other TLD options that you can also register.
What’s great, you can directly make a purchase if your desired domain name is available. If it isn’t, you can always recheck the best domain name alternatives for the website and make an immediate purchase as soon as you found the perfect domain name.
3. Purchase and register the domain name
If the preferred domain name is available, continue to make a purchase by clicking the Add to cart button. There will be several payment options available that you can conveniently choose from. After payment completion, the registrar will redirect you to set up your domain name.
In the setup screen, you will be asked to fill in personal information to confirm domain ownership. These details will be used as domain owner information and stored in the WHOIS database of the domain ownership.
You would have to fill in your name, email, and detailed information about your residence. Make sure that the data submitted is correct, as it will be crucial for the ownership verification process.
You can change the domain ownership details after verification. You just have to confirm the changes via email and it will take 24-72 hours for the change to happen in the WHOIS database.
4. Verify the domain name and point it to your hosting
The domain verification request will arrive in your email inbox minutes after submitting contact information. If it doesn’t, you can click the Resend verification email button to receive it. I recommend doing this as soon as possible, as your domain will be suspended if you failed to complete the process in 15 days.
If you purchase a domain name from your web hosting provider, usually the domain name will automatically be pointed to your website. If not, get started by finding the nameserver values from your web hosting provider. You can see it in the post-purchase email or through account information in the control panel.
Then, log in to your domain name registrar and change the domain’s nameservers to your hosting providers’ values. In general, you can find the settings in the Domain Management or Domain Overview sections.
Once the nameservers are set, save the changes and wait for it to be in effect. This period is called worldwide DNS propagation and may take a few hours up to several days.
I recommend reading more about how to point a domain name to a web hosting plan. This method also applies when you want to transfer your domain name. Once you’re done with all the steps, you will have a website properly connected to a domain name.
5. Secure your personal information (WHOIS privacy protection)
As I have mentioned, the personal information that you submitted for domain registration will be stored in the WHOIS global database. Unfortunately, the database is accessible to anyone once the domain is registered.
In case you feel uncomfortable having your personal contact information shown in the public database, buying a WHOIS protection will help hide the confidential data. What’s great, purchasing and activating it is very simple, as it usually comes as an offer with your domain name purchase.
If it is not available as an extra offer, you can set it up through your control panel. Find the My domains page, click on your domain name, and activate WHOIS protection with the available button.
All in all, it is necessary to get a domain name if you want your website to be discoverable by search engines. Get started with brainstorming names that best represent the website, pick the domain extension, and choose from the best domain name registrars.
If the desired domain name is available, check out from the cart and immediately register for the domain name. Follow the necessary process to verify the domain ownership, point it to your web hosting plan, and you’re set.
I hope this article helped you understand more about how to buy a domain name for your website.