Your Guide to How to Buy a Domain Name

Matthew is a Marketing Copywriter with a B.A. in Professional and Public Writing from Auburn University. He aims to learn a little more about the SEO world each day, and share as much of that knowledge with you as he can. When he's not striving to put out some fresh web content, he's usually fueling his Tolkien obsession or working on miscellaneous creative projects.

Are you looking to market your company on the Internet? If so, you need to build a website — and to do that, one of the first things you’ll need is a domain name.

You may have heard of the term “domain” before. It’s the online location of a website, and every business needs to have one if they want to have a site.

To get a domain, though, you must purchase and register it. If you aren’t sure how to do that, keep reading to find out how to buy a domain name.

Then consider partnering with WebFX for our web design and development services. Just call 888-601-5359 or contact us online to get started today!

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What is a domain name?

We have a video that answers your question (and several others).

A domain name is a website’s URL. Every website is denoted by a particular IP address, which is a series of numbers (e.g., 573.8.5.3). Since remembering the IP address of every site is difficult, sites also use domain names to represent their online location.

Domain names have two parts: The second-level domain (SLD) and the top-level domain (TLD). The SLD makes up the bulk of the domain name, and usually consists of a word or series of words that represent that website’s brand.

The TLD, meanwhile, is the extension that appears at the end — .com, .org, and .net are common TLDs. For example, the domain name for Barnes & Noble is barnesandnoble.com.

The purpose of a domain name is to give users an address to visit when they want to find a website. If you wanted to buy something on Amazon, for example, and you didn’t have it bookmarked, the easiest thing to do would be to simply type “amazon.com” into your address bar.

Choosing a domain registrar

When you register your domain name, you do it through a domain registrar. Before you can start looking for a name, you must decide which registrar to use.

There are various registrars across the Internet that you can use. One of the oldest and most well-known registrars is GoDaddy. Others include:

Instead of using one of the above registrars, you can also register a domain name through your content management system (CMS), if you use one. In that situation, your CMS — WordPress, for example — will handle the registration for you.

Coming up with a domain name

When you have a domain registrar picked out, it’s time to choose your domain name. But don’t pick one at random — there are several things you need to consider when making your choice. In particular, you need to pay attention to branding, simplicity, and availability.

Branding

The first thing to consider before you register a domain is how it will fit in with your branding. Whatever domain name you pick will be what shows up in the address bar every time someone visits your site, so it should represent your business.

The most obvious approach to take is to use the name of your company. Walmart, for instance, uses the domain name walmart.com. Variations on your company name work too, though — Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s site is hmhco.com.

Simplicity

In addition to representing your brand, your domain name should be simple and easy to remember. You want users to easily recall your URL whenever they want to visit your site, so you should use a domain name that’s short and succinct.

In some cases, that may mean shortening your brand name. To return to the above example of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the company used “hmhco.com because “houghtonmifflinharcourtcompany.com” would be too long and difficult to remember.

Availability

The final factor in choosing your domain name is availability.

 

 

You can’t use the same domain name as another website — that’d be like your home having the same address as another house on your street. So, if another site has already claimed the domain name you want, it won’t be available to you.

That means you need to be prepared to come up with new names if your original preference doesn’t work out. It won’t be as much of a problem if your business has a unique name, but if it’s something common like “Main Street Diner,” you may want a backup plan.

If you must change your name to find something available, keep it as short as possible and ensure it reflects your brand. You can find a way to make a domain name using a variation of your company’s name — for example, “johnsonelectronics.com” for a company called “Taylor Johnson Electronics.”

Registering and purchasing your domain name

When you find a domain name that works for you, it’s time to purchase and register it. You pay each year to keep your domain name — there’s no one-time domain payment.

Most domain registrars allow you to turn on an auto-renewal feature, ensuring that you won’t lose your site after a year by forgetting to make your next payment. Once you make the payment, you register your domain name with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), giving you ownership over it.

The registration may take a few days to go through, but once it does, the website is yours!

What happens after your domain name purchase?

Once you have your domain name, the next step is to choose a web host. Web hosting is slightly different from a domain — if your domain is your street address, your web host is the actual building located at that address. It’s where all the files that make up your site are stored.

Fortunately, the two elements often go hand in hand. Most domain registrars also offer web hosting services, allowing you to get them both in one place. If for some reason you want to host your website elsewhere, you can do that too. You can get web hosting from sites like:

However you do it, web hosting and domain registration are the two key components of getting a website.

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WebFX can help you register a domain

Ready to get started on your domain purchase and then begin building your site? WebFX has your back! With over 20 years of web design experience, we know how to buy a domain name and set up web hosting — and that’s just the beginning.

With our web design and development services, we’ll help you do everything from buying a domain name to fleshing out your web pages. We’ll also assign you a dedicated account representative to keep you informed of all that we do for you.

To get started with us, just give us a call at 888-601-5359 or contact us online today!