Domain name registration is one of the very first things you need to do when you are creating a website. So what is a domain name? And why is it so important to have one of your own?
- A domain name is the address where your website can be found on the internet. SiteBeginner.com is a domain name. It's where people can go to view your website. Simple as that.
- You will sometimes see adverts for a “free website” online, but these do not use your own domain name. Instead, you will get
yourname.example.comwhich is not ideal for many reasons.
Why you need your own domain name
We've established that a domain name is important, right? So here are a few reasons why you should register your own domain name and not use a free website provider:
- The domain name belongs to you.This is very important because it means that you own the rights to this particular address for as long as you renew. Some companies which register the domain name on your behalf do so under their name and may charge you an expensive renewal fee. Also, free websites can close your site at any time, with no warning. Bad free website hosts!
- You don't need to change your address.When you have created your website and start getting traffic you might decide to move to a new web host. If you don't own your domain name then this means your visitors will have to come to a new address. It's like moving house without telling your friends the new address!
- You can move the site easily.When you register your own domain, you easily move it to a new web host or provider later. Many free website providers make it difficult or expensive to move your site elsewhere. I know, because I've been the victim of this myself.
- It looks more professional.What looks more legitimate and professional to a potential customer or advertiser?
sitebeginner.example.com? Registering a domain name shows you are serious about building a website and making it the best it can possibly be.
Step-by-step domain registration process
Registering a domain name is actually a very quick and painless process. Here's how to do it:
Choose a domain name.
Brainstorm a few domain names you like that would be suitable for the topic you want to cover.
Don't get attached to a name until you check it's available. Somebody might have already registered it.
Decide on a company to register your domain with.
Choose a reputable domain name registration company that are reliable and affordable.
Need hosting too? Some web hosts offer free domains for new customers.
Buy the domain (quickly!).
You can pay for your domain by credit/debit card, Paypal and a few other methods as well.
Buy your domain as quickly as possible before somebody else registers your great idea. It happens!
Below I'll cover each step in a little more detail so be sure to read it all before you head off to buy the domain.
- Choosing a domain name.You might think that picking a suitable domain is easy and will only take a few minutes, but there is an art to keeping it short, rememberable, easy to spell and explains your site quickly. You'll find that lots of ideas you have tick all these bases but you aren't able to register the domain because somebody beat you to it.An example of a good domain might be
SiteBeginner.com. I might be biased, but it explains exactly what my site is about, is easy to remember, brandable and won't confuse people when I tell it to them. If you find a domain like this that isn't taken: register it!
- Choose a domain registrar.A registrar is just a fancy word used for a company who is able to register domain names for you. The technical details don't matter for a beginner. What matters is that you pick a quality registrar that has a long standing reputation in the industry. My top picks for domain registrars are:
- Free Domain from Web Hosting HubIf you don't already have a web hosting account (somewhere to actually create your website) then you can kill two birds with one stone at Web Hosting Hub. All new customers get a free domain when you buy hosting with them. Their hosting is just $3.99 a month and perfect for beginners. Click here to get your free domain from Web Hosting Hub.
- Cheap Domains by Namecheap.comNamecheap have over 800,000 customers across the world and are responsible for the registration of more than 3 millions domain names. They have been in business since 2000 and are usually my first choice when registering a new domain.
- GoDaddy.com – World's No.1 Domain Name RegistrarGoDaddy is the biggest domain name registrar in the world, with over 54 million domains under their management! With 10.7 million customers and a business that stretches back to 1997, they are a hugely reliable source for registering domain names. Their interface is more sales focused and confusing than Namecheap, which is why I prefer them most of the time. GoDaddy have excellent offers though and I will use them when I can get a domain cheaper.
- Dotster.com | Domain RegistrationDotster.com are a reliable and relatively affordable place for domain name registration. They are more expensive than Web Hosting Hub, Namecheap and GoDaddy though but they are another option available to you.
- Register Domain Names at Register.comRegister have a very clean and easy to use website which makes buying your domain very easy. They also offer a free domain if you buy a website package but at $9.96 a month there are much cheaper options which will get you the same or better package for less money.
- Buy the domain name.Buying the domain name is the easy part. All registrars and web hosts make the buying process very quick and painless and it is very much a step-by-step walkthrough. You can usually pay with any form of credit or debit card and most companies will also accept Paypal as well.
Reminder! Get your web hosting from Web Hosting Hub for $3.99 a month and you'll get a completely free domain name too. This is the best package available for complete web beginners.
What to do after registering your domain name
The best place to start would be to read the article How to Create a Website: The Complete Beginner's Guide which covers the entire process to get your website set up.
For most beginners, I recommend that you signup with Web Hosting Hub and get a free domain with their $3.99 a month hosting package. However, if you already have web hosting elsewhere, then after domain registration you need to obtain your domain name servers or DNS from your existing host. As an example, they might look like this:
You don't need to worry about the technical aspect of these (they simply point your domain name to the web host servers) but make sure to note them down as you'll need them to point your domain name to your web site.
Once you have the name servers, you'll need to add them to your domain by logging into your account with your registrar. For a more in depth guide, see: How to Point a Domain Name to Your Website.
Final domain tips
Registering a domain name is a very quick and easy process once you understand it. The trick is finding the “right” domain name and to buy it as soon as possible to avoid somebody else getting there first. The price of a domain name now is less than $10 so there is no reason not to be decisive and go for it.
From personal experience, I have missed out on domains because I sat back and procrastinated about whether it was the right one and hopefully you won't make the same mistake.