Are you thinking about registering your own website domain name? Good idea, but are you aware of the many choices and variables at play when making this critical step? Selecting your appropriate website name, choosing the most appropriate domain extension, while making your most cost-effective choice has become something that should be identified as a real investment, and one for which it is wise to think and prepare well before acting.
Photo credit Kadir Karcioglu
While most everyone knows that a website domain name is a unique label that you apply to your website so that people can find your site on the Internet, very few can clearly list the key reasons for which IT IS SO IMPORTANT to register your own domain name
The domain registration process itself is quite straightforward, but the options and variables at play are not as easy to spot and understand if you have never registered a website domain before.
In this MasterNewMedia guide you will find all of the basic information you need to start registering your web site domain name, including some strategic advice and the key steps you need to take to make your domain name selection and registration process a full success.
A website domain name is an identification label that you can use to let people access and find your website on the Internet. Each domain name is linked to one (or multiple) IP address(es). You can think of an IP address as your name and the domain name as your nickname. Both will help your friends contact you, but a nickname will make easier for people to find and get to know you.
1. Registrars and Payment
- There are several services on the web (or "registrars") which will allow you to purchase a website domain name. These services work with the ICANN, a large worldwide organization without commercial interests that manages and controls how domain names are used across the globe.
- Not all registrars are the same. You may want to compare the different registrars prices, reliability, support and features the registrars can offer you.
- You will need either a credit card or a PayPal account to pay for the domain.
- Registering a domain name is generally very cheap for common extensions like .com, .net, .org, .mobi etc. and should cost you around $10/year. The popular registrar Go Daddy prices .com at $10.69/year, .net and .org at $9.99/year till .mobi domains which will cost you $7.99/year.
- Localized domains (like .it, .de, .jp, .co.uk) or domains that identify a specific market niche (.tv, .fm) are more expensive than the general .com or .org. A few examples from Go Daddy: .it is $14.99/year, .de is $17.99/year, .co.uk is $19.98/year .jp is $99.99/year, .tv is $39.99/year and .fm is $69.99/year.
2. Domain Name
The very first thing you have to do to register your new domain, is to choose a name for your website. This step is crucial, as you must consider your domain just as your street address. If it is not clear, nobody will come to your site or, even worse, know that your website even exists.
Here are some quick tips you want to remember to choose a good domain name::
- You can register domain names up to 63 characters long, but that does not mean you have to use all 63 characters.
- Make your website domain name very easy to remember or jot down. Ideally, it should not be longer than 2-3 words.
- Your website domain name should also be easy to spell and clearly pronounceable.
- Do not use dashes if you can. A domain name with dashes could be misleading or not so immediate for people to remember or find.
- Avoid acronyms (e.g. mnm.org instead of MasterNewMedia.org) as they tend to be misleading and do not help people to remember what you do and what your website is about.
- A popular shorthand is to use "2" for the words "to" and "two" and "4" for "for" and "four". Do not do this, as it will only confuse people, especially those who are less computer literate.
- Be careful not to make your website domain name conflict with an existing trademark. Check beforehand that no one has used your name earlier.
3. Commercial or No-Profit Domain
There are a number of top level domains (TLD), including .com, .org, .us, .net, .info, .biz, and various country names (.it, .es, .br, .fr, .ru, etc.) you can choose from when registering your website domain name:
- If you are a commercial business, you will want to register the .com variation of your domain name and most likely the newer .biz variant.
- If you are a non-profit organization, or even an individual, you will want to register the .org version and quite possibly the .com and .us variants (for US-based organizations).
- Beyond the extension you choose for your new website domain, it is always a good idea to protect your website domain name by registering multiple extensions (.net, .org, etc.). This practice deters people from utilizing your new domain name. Choose one domain extension and set a redirect from the other domains to your main one (i.e try to go to MasterNewMedia.com).
4. Personal or Business Domain
Another choice when selecting your next domain name is whether you should choose to name your domain with your own name or company name, or maybe using the keywords that identify your market niche.
To identify the best domain for your market niche, you can use a free service like DomainsBot that will give you suggestions and alternatives on those domain names you could pick to identify your business activity.
DomainsBot also helps you discover whether the domain name you want is still available, for sale, or yet purchased.
Once you have identified your market niche, do the following:
- If being found on the major search engines (Google, Yahoo!, Bing, etc.) is important to you, it is highly recommended that you register a domain name that contains your major keywords.
- If instead you are creating a website for a local business, getting traffic from all over the web may not be as important to you. This is because your customers will be local and you may want to grow your brand name in a specific area.
5. Privacy and Security
- Your website domain name should be registered in your name, under your ownership. This does not mean that it has to be registered in your own domain registrar account, but rather that you are identified in the domain contact information as the domain owner.
- During the registration process of your website domain, you will have the option to keep your domain name private. This is a special feature you may want to take advantage of. A private domain registration will keep your information (name, email address, etc.) out of the global Internet database, and will prevent a lot of spammers from reaching your email box.
6. Hosting Space
A website domain name is connected to a hosting space, a virtual storage space on the Internet where your site lives and grows.
- If you already have a web host, obtain from your web host the names of their primary and secondary nameservers. You willl need this information to point your domain name to your website after you buy your domain.
- If you do not have a web host yet, you can always allow the registrar to you to park your domain name at a temporary website specially set up for you. This way you can quickly secure your domain name and take your time to set up other aspects of your site.
- A web host is not linked to your website domain. Once purchased, a domain is yours and so will be for good. If you ever change your web host, your domain name goes with you.
Naming your site appropriately, titling your posts in effective ways, using keywords to help search engines understand your content focus are all key ingredients to get people to find your site on the web.
Before you register your website domain name you must evaluate first if you want a domain name that contains your major keywords or your business name. Both choices are good, it really depends what your plans are and what audience (local / worldwide) is your site referring to.
by 2CW Editors - 2 Create a Website
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What can you do with your website domain name after you own it? Since you bought the domain, it is yours to do anything you want with it: use it, park it for future use, sell it, use it for redirection purposes, show a bunch of rotating ads. It is completely up to you.
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Wikipedia has a useful list (updated to July 2009) of the top thirty domain name registrars ranked based on market share according to the statistics compiled by RegistrarStats. Use this list to find your first - or next - service to register your domain name with.
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If you own a trademark and find that someone is holding it hostage as a domain name until you pay a large sum for it, you may be the victim of cybersquatting. Learn in this article how to protect your website domain against fraud and scams.
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Originally prepared by Daniele Bazzano for MasterNewMedia, and first published on November 30th, 2009 as "How To Register Your Website Domain Name: Guide To The Best Resources".
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