Congratulations! Getting a domain name is the first step to starting your own website. After days of brainstorming and a few sleepless nights, you’ve finally come up with a perfect name for the upcoming million-dollar website.
This is super exciting! You have to snatch up the name ASAP before anyone else gets to it. So you find the nearest computer and typed into Google "domain name registration". Then click on the first link you see and pull out your credit card… WAIT!
Before you go any further, let’s step on the brakes. Registering a domain name may only take you no more than a few minutes, but knowing the right way to register a domain can save you from regrets and wasted money. Because naming a website is like naming a baby. A good name goes a long way.
What is a Domain Name?
A domain name is arranged by hierarchy from right to left. It consists of the following components (right to left):
• A top level domain name (.com, .net, .co) separated by a "." (period)
• A mid-level domain name (usually your website’s name)
• A sub-domain prefix "www." which stands for the World Wide Web
For example, www.statusfocus.com or www.bmwux.com.
Domain names are used to point to an IP (Internet Protocol) address associated with a certain website. Since an IP address is a string of numeric numbers, it is inconvenient for people to remember. So domain names are in place to refer to these IP addresses. Therefore, people can easily find the website they are looking for.
How to Register a Domain Name
You can buy domain names from any domain and hosting provider. Many of them offer enticing rate and packages. However, not all domain registration services are created equal. We will talk about a few important things you should know before buying a domain.
Before that, just for example purposes, we will first show you how a domain registration is done. We will use our hosting provider SiteGround as an example. Note SiteGround provides one free domain name if you choose any of its web hosting services.
Start the domain search in SiteGround by selecting a hosting plan. In this example, we’ve selected the beginner plan "StartUp". Typing in the name you have in mind, and check for the domain availability. If the domain you want is already taken, try again with a different variation or a different top level domain name.
After you have successfully found an available domain name you like, proceed to fill out the remaining registration information. Before you checkout, there are five things you should know that may save you money, time, and headaches in the long run.
5 Things You Need To Know When Registering a Domain Name
1. Read the Fine Print
Do the math before signing up to an offer. What is the total cost of owning a domain after one year, three years, or five years? Does this fit into your budget? Are there any additional costs involved? In case you are not happy with the service, can you cancel and get a refund? What if you want to transfer your domain to another service provider, will you be charged to transfer out?
These are all questions you should investigate into before locking yourself in with any service provider. If you have any concerns about certain policies, it’s best to talk to the customer service and make sure you understand what it means.
2. Know What is whois.icann.org
Whois.icann.org is an entity that keeps records of domain owners’ identities and contact information. Owners provide this information to independent registrars (domain registration service providers such as SiteGround) who must earn the ICANN accreditation in order to provide such service.
3 Things WHOIS Can Do To Your Domain
- WHOIS requires domain owners to keep their information accurate and up to date with the registrars as part of their responsibilities of owning a domain. If false information is provided on purpose, the owners risk having their domains suspended.
- Domain information on WHOIS is considered public records. WHOIS allows anyone to search for a domain and gain access to the owner’s contact information which may include information such as phone number, address, email and other contact information.
- WHOIS reveals the date you purchased a certain domain and the date it expires. This means if you accidentally forgot to renew your domain registration, it will be available for anyone to purchase.
That is a little creepy right? So is there something you can do to protect your privacy? Which leads us to the next point, and we will talk about how to protect personal information when you register a domain name.
3. Make Sensitive Information Private
Most legitimate domain and hosting providers give registrant the option to purchase additional domain privacy protection. This option allows you to hide personal or company information such as name, phone number, address, and email address.
When the privacy option is selected, your information will be hidden from WHOIS and other domain owner lookup website.
Adding domain privacy should be easy to do with most registrars. Usually, you will be prompted before checkout to include domain privacy in your package upon first purchase. If your existing domain does not have privacy protection on, you can always add it through your service provider.
For example, SiteGround users can add the domain privacy option in 3 easy steps:
- Log in and go to "Customer’s Area"
- Click on "Order Tab"
- Purchase "Domain ID Protect"
4. Test Out the Customer Service
Make sure the registrar you are signing up with has a strong customer service team and a good reputation. Many of the domain and hosting service providers out there today will promise you 24/7 customer support. But how good is the 24/7 support really? You should actually test out the quality, experience, and speed of the customer service before the purchase.
Having someone available around the clock is always a good start. However, if the support cannot efficiently resolve your problems, what good does it do? There is actually a whole list of things that can potentially go wrong when you buy a domain name. For instance, do you know if you can access your domain right away? Can you get help pointing the domain’s name servers to the hosting provider?
A good registrar should be able to answer all of your questions and provide prompt, adequate technical support to help you troubleshoot issues that arise. So look into the full list of services provided before making a commitment.
5. Avoid Trademark Infringement
Always double check your domain name for any possible trademark infringement before making the purchase. Just because the name you want is available in the database, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there are no legal strings attached to that name. To check for trademarks in the US, do a search through the United States Trademark and Patent Office.
Trademark infringement is a serious matter. If your website’s name is someone else’s registered trademark, you run the risk of losing your domain name and all the hard work you’ve put into branding your website. The entity that first trademarked the name is likely to win the legal battle if there is a conflict.
So put some serious thoughts into the domain name. Find something uniquely yours that represents your products or services without getting yourself into legal troubles.
Starting Your Website
Now that you have the perfect domain name, it is time to get going with your website. In case you have not signed up with a hosting service yet, refer to our guide on how to choose a managed hosting service.
For those of you who are going to be the next million-dollar bloggers, take a look at our complete blogging guide to help you start the journey.