Domain Names – How to Buy and What to Consider

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    A website is no longer a good-to-have but a must-have for businesses across all industries in the current digital age. In fact, 64% of small enterprises have websites. A website is beneficial because it gives your business an online identity, enhances credibility, and offers positive ROI. Since your business needs a website, it also requires a domain name.

    A domain name attracts customers, enhances the credibility of your company, and builds your brand. While it is easy to buy a domain name, and anyone can do it, you can’t buy any domain. You only buy a domain that no business or person has registered.

    What is the Difference Between a Domain Name and a Website

    Some people use domain and website interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. A domain name or domain is the name of your website. It is what comes after ‘www.’ in a web address or @ in an email address. On the other hand, a website is a collection of content – files, pages, and images grouped in one domain. The domain is the name of a store, while the website is the store itself. Purchasing a domain name does not mean you already have a website. You still need to build a website.     

    How Does a Domain Name Work?

    Computers use addresses referred to as IP addresses to manage everything on the internet. Consequently, all computers online have a unique IP number such as 104.109.178.94. However, such a number is hard to remember for many people. That’s where domain names come in –they represent an IP number and give users an easy-to-remember name. Therefore, when someone wants to send a message to the president, they just type ‘[email protected]’ rather than ‘[email protected]’    

    When you enter a domain name on your browser, the domain is redirected to a Domain Name System (DNS). The DNS connects the domain name with its IP address, and you are redirected to the site you want to access. All this happens in a matter of seconds.

    What is a Domain Registrar?

    It is an organization that sells unused domain names. If you want to register a domain, a domain register searches in its database to determine whether the domain you want is available or already taken. When the name you want is already taken, a domain registrar can provide a list of available names equivalent to the one you want. It also tells you how much the domain will cost.  

    What to Look for When Buying a Domain Name

    While buying a domain name is an exciting milestone for any business, it should be done cautiously. Domain registrars are not the same. While some are legitimate, others employ tactics like hidden fees or sell your personal information for profit. Such schemes can hurt your business. Consider the following when purchasing a domain:

    Hidden Costs

    • When buying a domain, watch out for hidden costs. Some domain registrars lure you to buying a low price domain only to hide other charges in the contract. Some of their tactics include;
    •  High renewal costs: Ensure you read the registrar’s ‘Terms of Service’ to identify any questionable terms and fees like high renewal fees.
    • Paying to edit RDAP and WHOIS listing: While all domain registration details should be published on RDAP and WHOIS directories, this should not attract additional costs. Be wary of registrars that charge administration fees for this.
    • Add-ons and extras: Watch out for registrars that bundle your domain with services you don’t need.
    • Charging transfer fees: If you want to transfer your domain to another registrar, you should be able to do it effortlessly and cost-effectively. However, some registrars charge exorbitant fees to do it or make the process difficult.  

    Privacy Features

    It is best practice to ensure that your registrar has privacy features to protect your personal information. Unprotected data is vulnerable to unauthorized access, spammers, and scammers who may use the information for personal gain. Choose registrars that provide privacy protection for free instead of those who charge a premium for them.

    Contact Information

    Some registrars sell your personal data to marketing companies and other third parties. As such, look for a registrar that does not sell or misuse personal data for whichever reason.

    Transparency

    A good registrar should have transparent practices and pricing. The cost of renewing policies should be transparent and readily available. Also, the process of canceling your domain registration should be easy and transparent.

    How to Manage Your Domain Name

    Use a different email from the domain you just bought

    It is best practice to use an email that is not the same as the domain name you bought. If your domain expires, you won’t be able to access your email and therefore can’t get a password reset.

    Don’t tie your domain to an employee

    A manager or owner should own the domain. Too often, we’ve struggled to access a domain name purchased by an employee who no longer works at the company.

    Don’t renew for ten years

    After ten years, it can be hard to remember where you put the login. We recommend 1-3 years, and the renewal can be a nice reminder to do a website audit.    

    Recommended Domain Registrars

    Hover.com

    They focus on helping you find a good domain and manage it effortlessly. It stands out with;

    No upsells
    Privacy is included
    They concentrate on domains and POP3 emails only
    Tucows own them

    GoDaddy.com

    They make it easy to get a memorable online address. GoDaddy is a suitable domain registrar because it is their core service. Their main downside is constant upselling and extra charges for privacy.

    Conclusion

    Domain names make hard-to-remember numeric internet addresses more manageable and more human-friendly. They also add credibility to your brand while improving your online visibility. Buying a domain name is easy, but you must find a unique name that no person or company uses. You must also choose a domain registrar who does not have hidden costs, protects your personal information, and adheres to transparency in practices and pricing. Contact our WordPress website design company for all-things WordPress, including installs, hosting, and migration.     

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    Christina Hawkins

    Since 1999, Christina has been designing and building exceptional websites partnering with small businesses to help them grow and increase revenue. With many years of experience in creating thousands of websites, she understands the need for continuing education in her field and, therefore, is constantly learning and teaching others about internet marketing and digital processes. In addition to her ability as a digital marketer, Christina serves as a coach and mentor with Agency Mavericks to other digital marketing freelancers, helping them grow their businesses. She is a sponsor and co-leader of Houston's WordPress Meetup. Recently, she spearheaded the next Houston WordCamp 2020 as its coordinator after a 10 year hiatus. She is currently President of the Houston Interactive Marketing Association.

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