One of the first tasks you’ll encounter as a newly established domain name flipper or someone who wants to start their own website or blog, is to register a domain name. If you happen to find a good expired domain or a new free to register domain, then you’ll no doubt need to use a domain name registrar.
In this guide I will go through the process of registering a domain name with each of the most popular domain name registrars.
Whether you want to start your own blog or sell products online, starting a new website is a solid way to make your business professional and marketable. The very first step to starting a great website is to register your own domain name. With the following guide, you can register a domain name to set up a game-changing platform to promote yourself or your company.
How Important is a the Domain Name?
The domain name is the very first step to establishing an online presence for your business. To understand the importance of the domain name, consider the following factors:
1. The Domain Name IS the First Impression
The domain name (and accompanying URL address) is the first thing that website visitors and potential customers see. It is what users will remember to type in to find your website, and it is often the link users will click to get to your website. A great domain name can make a meaningful and lasting impression on website visitors. In contrast, a poorly selected domain name can make a negative first impression and send potential customers running for the hills.
2. The Domain Name Can Affect SEO Ranking
The keywords in a domain name can positively influence your ranking in search engine. While you do not necessarily need an exact match domain (EMD), using top keywords can only help your ranking.
3. The Domain Name Creates Brand Recognition and Identity
A good domain name is one of the first branding opportunities for your business. It can increase brand recognition, create brand consistency, and help define your business as a leading authority in the field.
How to Choose a Domain Name
After learning about the importance of a domain name, some newbies feel stumped about which domain name to choose before registering. Fortunately, there are a number of tips that can help you master the domain name game.
A great domain name should have the following traits:
- Brandable – Choose a domain name that is brandable and memorable (rather than forgettable and generic). Remember that this domain name will end up everywhere from search engines to email signatures to business cards, so you will need a domain name that helps define your brand.
- Concise – The ideal name should easy to type and remember. According to Google Analytics, the most visited websites have domain names that are between 6-14 characters in length.
- Original – Be sure that your domain name does not infringe on any existing trademarks or brands. This can not only help you avoid problems in the future, but it can also help you build an original and consistent brand across all social media networks and platforms. To ensure that there are no existing URLs or trademarks registered in your desired name, use a search tool like Knowem.com before finalizing your idea.
- Contains Top Keywords – If possible, try including a top keyword in your domain name. For inspiration, search the Google Keyword Planner or KeywordTool.io
- Free of Hyphens, Numbers, or Special Characters – A good domain name needs to be easy to pronounce and spell. Remember that part of the point of a domain name is to get as many visitors to your website as possible. Avoid the unnecessary frustration and confusion of domain names with numerals and special characters. This can make your domain hard to spell, remember, or share by word-of-mouth. Even worse, a confusing domain name can even send potential customers on a wild-goose chase or to a competitor’s website.
Additional Tips for Choosing the Right Domain Name
Need more help choosing a domain name? Have no fear. The following steps provide you the tools to help determine the domain name of your dreams.
1. Try Using a Domain Name Generator to Gather Ideas
A domain name generator provides suggestions based on your desired keywords or business name. This tool uses your keyword input to recommend available domain names for your URL address. Some of the most popular domain name generators include the following:
- Lean Domain Search – This domain name generator pairs your favorite keyword with other popular keywords to suggest a list of available domains ripe for choosing.
- Wordoid – This suggestion tool uses your favorite keyword to generate domain names that contain the keyword, begin with the keyword, or end with the keyword.
- DomainHole – This all-in-one tool lets you search for keywords, generate and filter domain names, and save your favorite search settings. You can also use this domain name generator to find expired domains available for use.
2. Consider the Type of Domain Name Extension
A domain name extension is simply the identification string of letters that follows your domain name. The most popular domain name is extension is simply “.com” (pronounced “dot-com”). According to Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), over 43-percent of all domain names still end with .com. This type of extension is often the most memorable as well. Other top-level domain (TLD) extensions include .org (which is especially popular for non-profit organizations and groups), .net, or .info.
While you might see domain name extensions based on institution (such as .edu, .gov, or .mil) or country code (such as .uk or .fr), there are extremely strict governing rules for obtaining these extensions. Generally speaking, a layperson cannot use one of these restricted or sponsored domain names. For the vast majority of individuals and businesses, it is best to keep brainstorming under you find the perfect available domain name that you can use with a .com extension.
3. Check the Price for Your Domain Name or Extension
With the rise of domain-name brokers, some domain names and extensions can vary greatly in price. For example, a broker can purchase a domain name with a very obvious keyword in order to turn it into a premium domain name with a much higher price than average. Some domain name extensions are also more expensive, and discontinued extensions can have higher renewal prices as well. Fortunately, there are domain name registrars that offer sales or reduced prices. In addition, you can often receive a free domain name if you sign up for a website hosting service and register for your domain name through its website. Finally, you can simply keep brainstorming using your list of keywords and a domain name generator until you find a domain name that matches your keyword vision and fits within your budget.
How to Use a Domain Name Registrar
Now the you have selected the perfect domain name for your website, the next step is to officially register this name using a domain name registrar. A domain name registrar is a company that manages the reservation of domain names and records these reservations into an official registry.
Some of the most popular domain name registrars include the following:
- Domain.com (competitively priced and most popular general domain name registrar)
- BlueHost or HostGator (website hosting services that include a domain name as part of their hosting plans)
- GoDaddy (a very popular domain name search and website hosting service)
- NameCheap (domain name registrar that offers a selection of inexpensive domain names and extensions)
- Hover.com (a simple, no-nonsense domain name registrar)
Since each domain name registrar offers slightly different services and user experiences, you should think about what characteristics are most important to you. For example, anyone selecting a domain name registrar should consider the following:
- Features and Services Offered
- User Experience and Customer Support
- Special Offers and Expiration Date (e.g. Free domain for one year, etc.)
How to Register a Domain Name With Each of the Most Popular Domain Name Registrars
With multiple domain name registrar options available, it is no wonder that some newbies feel overwhelmed about which one to choose. However, there is no need to worry. The following guide on how to register a domain name at each of the top registrars can walk you through the process can provide a good idea of what each registrar has to offer.
Domain.com is one of the oldest and most popular domain-name registrars. It is an accredited domain provider that works with regulated domain-name registries. The domain search provides options for all of the top-level domain (TLD) extensions, and you can also choose country-code extensions if necessary. Domain.com also offers the following automatic features:
- Let’s Encrypt – Domain.com’s free, automatic SSL (secure socket layer) certificate
- Email Forwarding – Forwards all emails send to a domain email address to your existing email address
- Transfer Lock – Protects your domain name from transfer scams.
How to Register a Domain Name Using Domain.com:
- Step 1 – Visit www.domain.com.
- Step 2 – Type your desired domain name into the search box.
- Step 3 – If your domain name is available, Domain.com automatically puts it in your shopping cart. Domain.com also notifies you of other extensions available. If you would like to add any of these extensions, simply “add to cart.”
- Step 4 – Domain.com also adds the Domain Privacy premium feature automatically to protect your name, address, and phone number from online databases (such as WHOIS). You will need to purchase annual privacy protection to prevent these public information databases from publishing your information online. If you are not interested in purchasing domain privacy, uncheck the box.
- Step 5 – In the Shopping Cart, decide how long you want to register your domain name. The most popular options are purchasing a registration of one year, two years, or even five years. Domain.com recommends at least two years so that you do not have to think about renewing after your first year of domain-name ownership.
- Step 6 – After selecting registration term length and your Privacy Protection option, you can decide whether you want any add-on features like Domain.com website hosting. If not, skip this option and select “Proceed to Billing.”
- Step 7 – Enter payment details and select “Purchase Now.” Your domain name is now available for you to use.
2. BlueHost or HostGator
You can also register for a domain name using a web hosting site like BlueHost or HostGator. Since you need a hosting service to house your website after you purchase a domain name, it can definitely simplify the process to purchase your domain name and web hosting from the same source. Getting a domain name and web hosting from the same place can also spare you the hassle of “pointing,” migrating, or transferring your domain to new web hosting. In addition, web hosting sites often offer special promotions like free first-year domain registration and discounted monthly or annual hosting fees.
As two of the most popular web-hosting sites, BlueHost and HostGator both come with the following automatic features:
- SSL Protection
- 24/7 Customer Support
- Automatic Domain-Name Renewal to Prevent Unwanted Expiration
- Domain-Lock to Prevent Unauthorized Transfers
- Low Monthly Hosting Rates
How to Register a Domain Name Using BlueHost:
- Step 1 – Visit www.bluehost.com.
- Step 2 – Select a hosting package. BlueHost offers Basic, Shared, and WordPress hosting packages at a discount.
- Step 3 – Create a new domain name. If you already own a domain name you purchased from another registrar, you can still sign up for BlueHost web hosting. Just enter your domain name at this step.
- Step 4 – Create an account and select a domain registration term length.
- Step 5 – Select or deselect premium features like Domain Privacy Protection or an Office 365 Mailbox Subscription.
- Step 6 – Enter payment details and select “Submit.” Your domain name is now available for you to use.
How to Register a Domain Name Using HostGator:
- Step 1 – Visit www.hostgator.com.
- Step 2 – Select a hosting package. HostGator offers Hatchling (beginner), Baby (intermediate), and Business (advanced) hosting packages at a discount.
- Step 3 – Create a domain name and choose the domain extension you would like to use.
- Step 4 – Select or deselect Privacy Protection.
- Step 5 – Double-check selected hosting plan and enter your credit card payment details.
- Step 6 – Select or deselect final premium offers and click “Checkout Now.” Your domain name is now available for you to use.
GoDaddy is a major domain name registrar that also provides web hosting services. As a trusted registrar, it currently manages over 78 million domain names. Since GoDaddy services as much more a la carte, it does not automatically provide features like free SSL protection. However, it does include the following stellar services:
- 24/7 Customer Support
- Guaranteed Uptime with Web Hosting
- Ability to Add Up to 100 Subdomains
- Ability to Add Up to 400 Email Aliases
How to Register a Domain Name Using GoDaddy:
- Step 1 – Visit www.godaddy.com.
- Step 2 – Select a hosting package. GoDaddy offers Economy, Deluxe, and Ultimate hosting packages at a discount.
- Step 3 – Select a term length for your hosting package. GoDaddy allows you to use their web hosting for a few as three months to as many as 36 months at a time.
- Step 4 – Select or deselect Premium web hosting offers.
- Step 5 – Choose your domain name. GoDaddy has an easy domain-name search and also lists available domain name extensions you can add to cart.
- Step 6 – Select or deselect a second round of premium offers. These include Domain Privacy Protection from the WHOIS database, website malware scans, or professional email packages.
- Step 6 – Select the term length of your domain name registration.
- Step 7 – Create a GoDaddy account and enter payment details. Click “Proceed to Checkout.” Once you finalize your purchase, your domain name is now available for you to use.
NameCheap is a respected registrar that offers a selection of inexpensive domain names and extensions. Since it is accessible to DNS servers across the United States and Europe, NameCheap is also top choice for international web hosting. Other NameCheap features include the following:
- FREE WHOIS Database Privacy Protection
- 24/7 Customer Support
- Automatic URL Address and Email Forwarding
- Knowledge-Base Articles for Starting Your First Website
How to Register a Domain Name Using NameCheap:
- Step 1 – Visit namecheap.com.
- Step 2 – Enter your desired domain name. If it is available, NameCheap will automatically add to cart. You can also add any domain name extensions if desired.
- Step 3 – Select or deselect any premium offers. The good news is that Privacy Protection from the WHOIS database is included free with NameCheap registration.
- Step 4 – Select domain name registration term length and click “Continue.” Review your cart and click “Confirm Order.”
- Step 5 – Create an account and enter payment details. Once you click “Submit,” your domain name is now available for you to use.
Hover.com lets you quickly search and select your domain name. You can also choose from a wide range of top-level domains (TDLs). Hover.com features the following registration benefits:
- FREE WHOIS Database Privacy Protection for most extensions
- Easy-To-Read Pricing Table for Registration, Renewals, and Domain Transfers (if necessary)
- 24/7 Email Support
- Phone Support Also Included
How to Register a Domain Name Using Hover.com:
- Step 1 – Visit hover.com.
- Step 2 – Type your domain name into the search box. Hover.com then indicates if the domain name is available and also displays a list of additional domain name extensions that you can add to cart.
- Step 3 – In the Shopping Cart, choose the term length of your domain name registration and also ensure that the Free WHOIS Privacy Protection button is selected.
- Step 4 – Select or deselect the Hover.com premium email service options.
- Step 5 – Create an account and enter payment details. Click “Continue.” Once you review the purchase and click “Submit,” your domain name is now available for you to use.
The Bottom Line on Registering a Domain Name
Registering a domain name is the important first step to empowering yourself with a personal or business website. The domain name helps define your brand, and the domain registrar you choose can determine user experience, initial expenses, and even the type of hosting for your website. Review options such as free first-year registration, web hosting customer service, and types of premium offers to find the best domain registrar to suit your needs.