Setting up a website is a critical step in establishing your business. Not only does it help people contact you and learn more about the business, but your website is also a reflection of your brand. Consequently, it is important that your website domain name accurately and effectively reflects your business and brand. Registering your website domain name can feel overwhelming to many new business owners. In this article, we break it down for you in a step-by-step guide so you can register your domain name and get your website up and running.
Step 1. Choose a domain name
Your domain name is essentially the name of your website. This is the part of the URL that appears before the “.com” or “.org”. When choosing a domain name, you’ll want something that’s catchy, easy to remember, and in line with your business name and brand. Finding a domain name that is available and accurately represents your business and brand can be challenging, depending on how common the name is.
You can check the availability of a domain name with a domain registrar, such as Namecheap, GoDaddy or Google Domains. In some cases, the domain name will be “available,” but it will have a hefty price tag attached to it—sometimes up to thousands of dollars. Unless you’re willing to pay a significant amount of money to get a domain name—and most people aren’t—you should consider naming alternatives to the .com extension. In many cases, a domain name will be available for free with .org or .biz or .net (or very cheap).
In many cases, the domain name registrar will suggest similar domain names that are available. For example, if myperfectdomainname.com is not available, the registrar may suggest myperfectdomainname.biz.
Even if a domain name is available, make sure the name is also available on social media to ensure alignment between your website and social handles.
Step 2. Choose a domain name registrar
While cost is certainly a consideration, choosing a domain name registrar is a bit more complicated than looking for the cheapest option. Some low-cost domain name registrars may not have adequate privacy protection and, depending on your needs, you may want to consider using the same company to register your domain name and host your website. For example, A2 Hosting and GoDaddy are also web hosting services, which means you have a one-stop shop for buying and registering your domain name and hosting your website.
On the other hand, you may be able to sign up for a web hosting service that also offers domain registration, such as DreamHost or HostGator. But it’s important to read the fine print in these situations, as the domain name registration may only be included for a year or two, after which additional fees may be involved. However, not all web hosting companies give you the option to register a domain name. In this case, you have to buy and register your domain name with one company and host your website with another company.
Step 3. Buy and register your domain name
Although it is possible to register your domain name for free and meet the requirements of the global ICANN registry, not everyone is comfortable with having their private information available on the public ICANN registry. A domain name registrar will typically offer the option to provide necessary information to ICANN while also protecting your privacy. For this reason, many people choose to use a private domain name registrar to purchase and register their domain name. This privacy protection may have an additional fee.
Once you have selected an available domain name, you can purchase the name for a nominal fee, usually around $10 to $15 per year. This fee is typically paid on an annual basis, but some registrars offer multi-year terms. When registering the name, you must pay close attention to the duration of the registration.
Rather than choosing a long-term registration, you may want to consider a shorter duration with automatic renewal. This way, you still have the option to transfer your domain name to another company if you are unhappy with the service, but you are not vulnerable to the domain name being scooped up by another party if it expires before you had it do not have. a chance to renew the registration.
You may also be able to bid on an already owned domain name, but a word of caution: the cost can be quite high, depending on the popularity of the domain name.
Step 4. Familiarize yourself with the domain name contract
The service provided by the domain name registrar, your rights and obligations, and the domain name registrar’s ability to make changes to the arrangement are all governed by the domain name contract. It is important to read and understand the domain name contract so there are no surprises.
Step 5. Don’t lose the domain name
Renewing your domain name is critical to ensuring that you can continue to use the domain name. If you have selected the auto-renew option with your domain name registrar, this step is as simple as ensuring you have up-to-date payment information. If your domain name expires before you renew it, the name becomes available for purchase by others and you risk losing use of the domain name.
Step 6. Build your website
If you intend to use your domain name with a functional website, you will next build your website. You will need to find a separate company to host the website if your registrar does not provide both services. And if you don’t have coding experience, you might want to use a drag-and-drop website builder like Weebly, Squarespace, or Wix to build your website.