Building a website is a critical step in building a business. Not only does it help people connect with you and learn more about your business, but your website is also a reflection of your brand. Therefore, it is important that your website domain name accurately and effectively reflects your business and brand. For many new business owners, registering your website domain name can feel overwhelming. In this article, we’ll break it down for you with a step-by-step guide so you can register a 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. It is the part of the URL that appears before “.com” or “.org”. When choosing a domain name, you need something catchy, easy to remember, and consistent with your business name and branding. Finding a domain name that is usable and accurately represents your business and brand can be challenging, depending on how common the name is.
You can check domain availability with a domain registrar, such as Namecheap, GoDaddy, or Google Domains. In some cases, the domain name will be “available,” but it will come with a hefty price tag — sometimes in the thousands of dollars. Unless you’re willing to pay a lot of money to get a domain name (which most people aren’t), you should consider alternatives to the .com extension. In many cases, a .org or .biz or .net domain name is free (or very cheap).
In many cases, domain registrars will suggest similar domains that are available. For example, if myperfectdomainname.com is unavailable, the registrar might suggest myperfectdomainname.biz.
Even if the domain name is available, you should check to confirm that the name is also available on social media to ensure consistency between your website and social handles.
Step 2. Choose a Domain Name Registrar
While cost is definitely a consideration, choosing a domain registrar is a bit more complicated than finding the cheapest option. Some low-cost domain registrars may lack adequate privacy protections, and depending on your needs, you may want to consider using the same company to register your domain and host your website. For example, A2 Hosting and GoDaddy are also web hosting services, which means you can buy and register your domain name and host your website all in one place.
On the other hand, you can sign up with 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 cases, as domain registration may only be covered for a year or two, after which additional fees may be involved. However, not all web hosting companies offer you the option to register a domain name. In this case, you need 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
While it is possible to register your domain name for free and meet the requirements of ICANN registries worldwide, not everyone is comfortable with having their private information available on the public ICANN registries. Domain registrars often offer the option to provide ICANN with the necessary information while protecting your privacy. For this reason, many people choose to use a private domain registrar to purchase and register their domain name. This privacy protection may require additional charges.
Once you’ve selected an available domain name, you can buy the name for a nominal fee, usually around $10 to $15 per year. This fee is usually paid annually, but some registrars offer multi-year terms. When registering a name, you need to pay close attention to the duration of the registration.
Rather than opting for a long-term registration, consider using a shorter auto-renewal period. That way, if you’re not satisfied with the service, you still have the option of transferring your domain name to another company, but if the domain name expires before yours, you won’t be easily snatched up by another party to have the opportunity to renew the registration.
You can also bid on a domain name you already own, but be warned: the cost can be very high, depending on the popularity of the domain name.
Step 4. Familiarize yourself with the domain name contract
The services provided by the domain name registrar, your rights and obligations, and the domain name registrar’s ability to make changes to arrangements are 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 Your Domain Name
Updating your domain name is essential to ensure that you can continue to use it. If you’ve opted for your domain registrar’s auto-renewal option, this step is as easy as making sure you have up-to-date payment information. If your domain name expires before you renew, the name is available for purchase by others and you may lose the right to use the domain name.
Step 6.Build your website
If you plan to use your domain name for a functional website, you will build your website next. If your registrar doesn’t offer both, you’ll need to find a separate company to host the site. If you lack coding experience, you may need to use a drag-and-drop website builder such as Weebly, Squarespace, or Wix to build your website.