You may be a complete beginner and wonder what a domain name actually is. Or you may already know, but you’re not sure what name you should pick and where you can get it from. Either way, I’m going to try and give you some tips to help you make a good decision. I’m also going to show you how not to get sold a whole heap of add-ons that you probably don’t need. So take a big breath, and here goes…
What is a domain name?
(if you already know this, feel free to skip straight through to the next section)
Every single website on the internet has a domain name. It’s the text that comes after the www. bit and it is pretty important, particularly if you want people to be able to find you online. And, it’s very important if you want to make a living online! But why? Why can’t you call it anything you want?
There are several reasons why a good domain name is important
- It needs to make sense – if you are going to sell t-shirts online, choosing a domain name that doesn’t link into this is going to make your “online life” a lot harder. Yes, you can choose something that is abstract if you really want to, but you have to market your name that little bit harder if it’s not an oblivious name for your audience. So that’s the first thing to bear in mind. What’s the second?
2. It’s not essential, but a very good idea, to make it something that can be remembered. I usually find that short and snappy is great if you can do it, but sometimes it does need to be a little longer to get the message across.
3. It needs to fit the market you are aiming at – this is particularly important for the end part of the domain name (.com or .org or .net, for example). Did you know that these domain name endings can give off an impression, before a visitor even looks at your website? In my opinion, the .com names are still one of the best. They can be a symbol of a site that’s geared up to be global, and are very common in the USA or someone marketing to there. There are also many country options, like .co.uk for the United Kindom, or .de for Germany – which are great options if you are intending to be country specific. Then it can get a bit trickier. The .org names tend to be linked to public bodies and charities. And the .net names are OK for an internet or tech-related business, but sometimes come off as a “poor cousin” of the .com.
You have thought of a name. What next?
You might have the perfect name in mind – you’re all fired up, raring to go with a great business idea and you have an excellent name in mind for your website. However, when you go to register that domain for yourself, damn, you find that someone else already own it. Then it comes down to just how badly you want that name. If you just have to have it, expect to pay the current owner for it, and beware that if they smell your desperation they will want t pretty penny for it! What most people do in this situation, is play around with the same name, trying related options. For example, add the city directly after the name, or add your name in front of it. Let’s show you a practical example for an online t-shirt business.
You want to call your website www.originalT.com, but darn it all, it’s already taken and the owner of that name doesn’t have a website set up, but he wants $1000 for the name. You are just starting your business, and can’t afford that sort of money right now. Your name is Tom and you live in Chicago and this is where you will be based, but you hope to grow your business to sell your printed T-shirts all over the world. Then you could look for a domain to fit one of these options
www.originalTchicago.com and you get the idea, there are plenty of other options by making small changes.
Finding out if your chosen name is available
There are a few places to check and see if your chosen name is available, or if someone else has it. But one great simple and easy on is here:
Why do I recommend checking here?
Not only is it easy and simple, but if your name is available, you can buy it right then and there. And more to the point, you won’t be hit by a whole heap of annoying add-ons, that are unnecessary.
What about other providers?
Another great provider of domain names is GoDaddy, and I have bought several domain names from them for different websites. They are very reasonably priced, and experts in the business. Just be careful of the add-ons they might propose.
If you want to take a look at GoDaddy, go to www.godaddy.com
What are Add-Ons?
You should be aware of these, because if you are new to domain names and website building, you may get sucked into buying stuff you don’t actually need. It’s happened to me before! Fortunately I only paid for a couple of years, and it wasn’t a fortune. But if you’re just starting out, you don’t want to waste a cent, because you will need it for other things.
Let’s take a look:
I am going to do a search on another provider for a domain name, and I’m going to search for www.aspiringservices.co.uk. This is what I get.
You might be thinking what the heck does all that mean? I want to run an online shop as part of my website, so I better grab the www.aspiringservices.shop domin name too, especially since it’s on special, right? WRONG! You don’t need an extra domain name for a shop. You can just make it an individual page on your site.
What about regional variations?
Quite often, if you search for a .com name, you will also get prompted to buy the .co.uk (or other country name extension), or a .infor or .org, but you honestly don’t need them. The only time I would recommend an “own-country” extension (.de, .co.uk etc) is if you are ONLY going to be targeting people in that one country with your website.
My general rule of thumb
Go for a .com, as it will likely cater for everything you want to do. You will see in the above example that www.aspiringservices.com has been taken. This provider allows you to make an offer if you want that particular domain name.
Here is what happens if I click to buy www.aspiringservices.co.uk. Look at all the extras that suddenly appear!
Make sure you understand what is being offered before you pay for any extras. Email linked to the domain name can be a good thing, BUT most website providers come with that. So if you are buying a domain name to use elsewhere, check first what the email status is. You will always be able to come back into your domain name provider and buy the email portion if you need to at a later stage. It’s never a case of “buy it now, or you won’t be able to again”.
My final piece of advice
Please, please, take your time over this. If you have decided on your domain name and it’s available, by all means buy it. But come back later for all the extras, so you don’t get conned into buying things you may not need. Remember, you can check your choice of domain name right here, right now
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I hope you have found this useful. It is aimed at helping novices in this area, so if you are more experienced and would like to share your own thoughts, please comment below. Or for anyone else, if you have any questions or feedback, please also comment below.If you like this, why not share it?