You’re ready to start your website, but buying a domain name and figuring out your hosting options are major hurdles. Get ready to build your website with this guide to buying a domain name.
What is a domain name?
Just as you have a physical address where customers can enter your showroom or office, your domain name is the digital address where customers can find you on the Internet. Instead of using IP addresses, the Domain Name System (DNS) allows us to use real words to navigate the Internet. After all, a domain name like smallbusinesscomputing.com is much easier to remember than 184.108.40.206.
How to choose a domain name
You need to choose a domain name that is unique, easy to remember, and relevant to your business. Ideally, your domain name and business name should be the same, but that’s not always possible. If the domain name you want has already been taken, you might consider shortening your business name to the first letter of each word, such as using SBC instead of Small Business Computing.
Or, you can choose an alternate suffix to follow the desired domain name, known as the top-level domain (TLD). TLDs like .net, .bix, or .co are common alternatives to .com URLs, so try those first if your first choice of domain is taken. You may encounter red tape if you wish to use a TLD such as .edu, .gov, or .mil, as they are reserved for official entities such as universities, US government agencies, and the US military.
How to buy a website domain
- Make sure the name you want to use is available.
You can do a preliminary search with any domain registrar like GoDaddy, Domain.com, Bluehost or DreamHost. If the domain you want is already taken, the registrar will likely recommend other available names.
- Compare registrars.
All of the best domain registrars offer unique perks that might draw you to their services, but it’s worth doing your research before committing. Consider how much of a difference add-ons will actually make: will they address specific business needs like email hosting and website building, or are they unnecessary extras that just add to your expenses?
- Buy your domain.
The cost of owning a domain name can range from $10 to $60 or more per year, depending on the registrar you choose and the competitiveness or specialization of the name. Some registrars also offer brokerage services, allowing you to purchase an already registered domain name.
- You can also choose a website builder that offers domain registration.
Some platforms like Squarespace, Square, and Shopify offer domain registration and website hosting included in their basic features.
What to do once you’ve purchased a domain
If you opt for a website builder that lets you select a custom domain name as part of the creation process, choosing the domain is probably the first step. Once you’ve selected the name you want to use, domain registration takes approximately 24-72 hours, but you can usually start customizing your website before the domain registration process is complete.
If you opt for a registrar that does not offer website building services, or if there is a separate website builder you prefer to use like WordPress, the next step is to connect these two services . This involves changing the DNS settings with your domain registrar to point your domain to the website builder of your choice. Non-technical users may find it difficult to complete this step successfully, so using a platform like Squarespace or Shopify may be a better option in this case.
It should be noted that domain registration and website hosting are separate services, although most domain registrars and website builders offer both. Domain registration only prevents other people from using your domain name; it has nothing to do with the storage available for your website content. Most likely, you’ll have the most success with a solution that lets you manage your domain registration, website hosting, and content management from one central platform.
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