Domain names are the first thing you should think about when setting up your website. It is the name that people will remember when coming to your business. Anyone can purchase cheap or expensive domain names, and selecting the right one can be crucial to business success.
What is a Domain Name?
A domain name is essentially your address on the web. A global system converts the address of your web host (IP Address, usually something like 126.96.36.1994) into an easy to remember name. For example, Microsoft’s website and domain name is Microsoft.com. When you type this into your URL the server automatically translates this into an IP address. Once the IP address is located you magically have the website for Microsoft at your fingertips. Now, it is required that each domain include a suffix that identifies which top level domain it belongs to. The most common ones are .com (commercial business), .gov (government agency), .edu (educational institution), .org (nonprofit organization), and .net (network organizations).
It’s all in the Name!
The name of your domain is very important to consider the relevance of your business. If people are searching for a car lot to buy a new Volvo they may type in some like auto sales, car sales, or Volvo. In this scenario when the researcher is guessing at what your website address is you will want to him or her to come as close to that guess as possible.
You want your domain name to be easy to remember. You want people to remember your name without having to sit back and guess or do a Google or yahoo search. If they have to do a search they may very easily find your competition. If you are selling Volvos and the town next to you is selling Volvos if the person does a Google search they may very well find your neighbor instead of you. However, if you have a name that is easy to remember then they can just put your domain name in the browser and bypass the whole search.
Rules for a Domain Name
A domain name is divided into three parts and there are rules for each of those parts.
Section 1: http://www. This is a common global identifier. All websites start with http://, what comes after that is largely up to you. If you are tech savvy you can change it to .
Section 2: The next section is the part that you get to choose. For example, the website http://www.microsoft.com the part “Microsoft” was chosen by the Microsoft as their domain name. This section can only include letters, numbers, hyphen and underscore (but underscore is not recommended). There can only be a total of 26 characters that includes section 3 (the suffix) but does not include section one.
Section 3: This is where you are going to choose the suffix that helps identify what kind of organization you are. There are rules as to which suffix you can choose and if are able to have more than one then it is recommended that your purchase the rights to as many as possible. For example, when I type in Microsoft.com or Microsoft.net I arrive at the same exact website. It is true that the .com suffix is becoming harder and harder to choose and there are newer suffixes coming out such as, .tv, .biz, .us, .name and .info.
Your Domain Name must be Unique
You cannot use a domain name that is the same as another website. If I wanted to establish a web presence for my Volvo dealership, I could not have the domain name Volvo.com because it is already taken. I will have to find my own unique name.
You can go to www.whois.net and search domain names to see if they are already in use. Let’s say I want to start up a coffee shop and I type in coffeeshop.com; it tells me that this is already taken and it will also list who owns this domain name and how to reach them. Whois.net also lists premium domains for sale that are close to what you are looking for. Such as coffeeshop.net, I select this name and am directed to the domain marketplace. Here I can hire a broker to make a bid for me to purchase this domain name. Whois.net will also list available domain names for purchase that are similar to my original search. I could currently purchase the domain name café-store.com for a minimal fee of $10.95.
Even if your domain name is taken you can do a few different options: choose a different name, buy it if it is for sale, or contact the person that owns it and see if they are willing to sell it. It can get very expensive to purchase a domain name that already exists so if you are on a budget for this new venture you will probably want to lean towards just finding a new one.
The Cost of Domain Names
Purchasing an already existing name can vary greatly depending on what you are looking for. For the sake of trying to keep this uniform this section will only relate to the cost of creating a domain that is currently available. There are hundreds of places you can buy a domain name from. Here is a small price and feature comparison using the first four companies that came up in a Google search.
Network Solution: The current price for domain name registration is $6.99. The features that are included for free are: business profile, online account management, sub-domains, auto renew, online support center, local directory listing, free 24/7 real person support, domain protect, DNS management and robust tools to find the domain you want. You can also purchase private registration for $9.99 per year to keep your contact information private. Web forwarding is $12.99 per year. If you own more than one domain but want them all to go to the same website you can use this feature. You can transfer your current domain to Network Solutions for $15.99. Network solution has many other features that include web hosting, email, ecommerce, SSL certificates, online marketing, design services, and mobile features.
Domain.com: Domain.com will register your name for $10.29 plus $0.18 ICANN fee per year if you are using .com, .net or .org. Their free features include: URL Forwarding, Email Forwarding, DNS Management and Transfer Lock. Private registration will cost $6.99/year. Transfer fee is $7.61 plus $0.18 ICANN fee. Other services they offer are hosting, VPS, email, web design, SSL and marketing.
MakeMyDomainFast.com: They range their registration fees from $1.99 to $19.99 plus the $0.18 fee. The free services that they include are a 5-page website with hosting, spam-free email account, blog, domain forwarding and masking, domain locking, total DNS control, change of registration and status alerts. You can transfer your current domain for $9.99. Private registration is $4.95 per year. They also have web hosting, SSL Certificates, email accounts, marketing tools and build a website.
GoDaddy.com: Their domain registration fee is from $1.99 to $29.99. The freebies are hosting with a website builder (1 page), personalized email, photo album, “for sale” page, getting started guides, domain forwarding and masking, domain locking, total DNS control, change of registration and status alerts. You can transfer your domain for $7.49. To keep your privacy, it will cost you $9.99 at GoDaddy.com. The additional services that they have are hosting, email, websites, search engines, SSL & Security, Resellers, affiliates and auctions.