In order to create a website for your business, you need to buy a domain name. It is through a domain that potential customers can learn about your business, reach out and even potentially buy your goods or services online. It is, therefore, as important as any other first point of contact for your business to have, just like its name, location, storefront and signage.
With that said, your domain name must be as simple, accessible, easy to remember and representative of your business as any other key element of your business.
A domain name gives your business credibility during a time when nearly every company has an online presence, which is a consequence of the rising popularity of smartphones and wide access to wireless communications. Moreover, a memorable and fitting domain name not only helps new or recurring customers to find you, but it can also appeal to other organizations who may want to partner with you. Fortunately, for all its importance, buying a domain name is actually fairly easy. In order to learn how to choose a domain name and ensure that it is available, read the sections below.
Steps to Register a Domain Name
As a general rule, you can register your domain name through a web host, which is a company that maintains your website online. Specifically, a web host holds all of your website’s pages and files on a server, granting visitors access to them as appropriate. Moreover, while it is very convenient to register a domain through the same platform you use to host your website, you do not have to do so. Instead, several other legitimate domain name registrar offerings are available as well. Regardless of the platform you choose to go with, all domain name registrations are processed through a central organization known as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
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One major reason why you may choose to register your domain through a platform other than your existing web host is if you plan on one day upscaling your website to a private server or VPS. On the other hand, registering your domain name with the same company hosting your website allows you to manage your website and domain name(s) all from the same place, which is typically referred to as a control panel. Many web hosts also provide free domain name registration to new customers and web design tools that help you personalize your page’s layout. In any case, in order to register a domain name, you must take the following steps:
- Make sure that the domain name you wish to purchase is available.
- Submit your domain name registration application.
- Pay the required registration fee.
Domain names are generally registered for one year. However, many services allow you to register for more than one year at a time, often for a small discount. Undiscounted domain name registration fees usually range between $10 and $35 dollars on an annual basis, but these costs vary significantly as the years go by. Many domain name registrars also allow you to set up automatic renewal payments so that your domain name is always automatically renewed before it expires every year.
Domain Name Registration Considerations
Many businesses choose to purchase not only their main domain names, but also variations that encompass common misspellings of a company’s actual name. If you can predict what these possible variations or misspellings may be, you can help direct those people to your business’s website instead of having them read an error message or being redirected to a different, perhaps competing, website. As such, you can register as many domain names as you want and can afford to register, directing traffic to any site you also own. As a general rule, a domain name can only lead to a single website, but a website can receive traffic from an unlimited number of domain names.
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It is important to note that privacy may be a concern when registering a domain name. Unless you indicate otherwise in your application, information about the owner of the domain name is made public. Thus, if you register your domain name in your own name, anyone would be able to look up the details you provided in your application. For instance, the mailing address you list on the registration application will be made publicly available unless you state otherwise.
For that reason, you may want to add domain privacy at any point while your domain is active in order to protect your personal information. In most cases of setting up a domain name for a business, making information public can be to your advantage, as it helps further associate your company’s physical address with its domain name.
After establishing which domain name you would like to purchase, it is wise to buy it immediately. It is not uncommon for domain names to be claimed very fast. If you do not register a domain name when you think of it, it may be too late to do it before someone else picks it up ahead of you. Variations on domain names can be effective, but be mindful that hyphenated domains are not as popular, simple or easy to remember as their alternatives. Furthermore, you must always aim to avoid any potential copyright or trademark infringement in choosing domain names.
How to Set Up Your Domain Name
Once you have purchased a domain name for your business, you must link it to your website. It is only after this connection is made that consumers can enter your domain name into their web browser and find your website. In order to establish a connection between your domain and web page, you must identify the primary and secondary “name servers” from your website, which will be provided by your web host. After you provide these “name servers” to your domain registrar, your domain name will become associated with a particular page of your website, which is generally the website’s homepage.
On the other hand, you may purchase a domain name without having a website set up or even a web host chosen. In this case, you would simply “park” your website with your registrar until you have the “name servers” you need to direct your domain name to a live website. By parking your domain name, you can at least greet your visitors and acknowledge that they have come to the right place.
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