Your domain name is one of the most important aspects of your online business, but knowing how to get one, which type to choose and how to register it is not always obvious.
That’s why I’ve put together a guide to show you the best way to get a domain name, which domain registrars to purchase from and the costs associated with the domain name registration process.
By the end of this article, you’ll know not only where to purchase and register a domain name, but also how to avoid making common mistakes when doing so.
We’ll also go through the answers to some pretty common FAQs relating to domain types.
So, let’s get started.
Table Of Contents
- What Is A Domain Name?
- 6 Different Types Of Domains
- What Is A Custom Domain?
- How To Buy A Domain Name
- Where Is The Best Place To Buy A Domain Name?
- How Much Does It Cost To Get A Domain Name?
- How To Choose A Domain Name: Why It Matters For Your Business
- Summing It Up: What We Know About Domain Names
What Is A Domain Name?
Domain names are the unique identifiers that tell web browsers where to find content on the internet.
They are used to access websites, email addresses, and other online resources (so that you don’t need to memorize long IP addresses).
In the same way that you have a home address for your house or apartment, domain names are the address of a website or webpage, and they’re visible to everyone.
There are several different types of domains you can choose from when registering a new business name or project. We’ll go through these next.
6 Different Types Of Domains
Now that we have established what a domain name is, we will go through the six main domain types.
- Top-Level Domain (TLD)
- Generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD)
- Country-Code Top Level Domain (ccTLDs)
- Second-Level Domain (SLDs)
- Third-Level Domain
- Premium Domain
Top-Level Domains (TLDs): Domain Extensions
Domain names can be broken down into several parts.
Top-level domains (TLDs), also known as domain extensions, are part of the domain name to the right-hand side of the dot. For example, in the URL “www.diggitymarketing.com” the .com is the TLD.
TLDs can be divided into generic TLDs (.com/.net), country code TLDs (.uk), or sponsored TLDs (sponsored by a specific business entity) i.e .travel for travel agents, tourism bureaus, etc.
The most common top-level domain is .com (which corresponds to commercial entities), but dozens of others exist.
- .net – Network providers
- .org – Non-profit organizations
- .io (this was initially a country code but has since been adopted for the tech community)
The right domain extension for your website will depend on the nature of your business and the country in which you are based.
While they may seem like minor details to consider when choosing a domain name for your business, the extension of your domain makes a big difference regarding how people perceive you online.
So, it’s important to choose the right extension that best matches your website content and audience locations.
Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs)
A generic top-level domain (gTLD) is the most common domain type.
They are the first level in the domain hierarchy and include domains such as .com, .net, and .org.
gTLDs are open to pretty much anyone who wishes to register a name under them and can be used for any purpose (including commercial websites).
Country-Code Top Level Domain (ccTLD)
A Country-Code TLD (ccTLD) is a domain name extension specific to a country. For example, the .ca ccTLD is used for websites registered in Canada.
There are over 250 ccTLDs available worldwide. Each one corresponds with a particular country or territory.
The best way to determine whether you should register a ccTLD for your business is to look at where your customers are from.
If you have a large customer base that is based in the corresponding country, then it might be worth registering a ccTLD for that region.
Second-Level Domains (SLDs)
A second-level domain is a domain that is immediately below a top-level domain in the Domain Name System hierarchy.
For example, in the website “diggitymarketing.com”, “diggitymarketing” is the SLD.
SLDs are limited in number. They are registered on a first-come, first-served basis and must be registered through an accredited registrar or web hosting provider.
This means that if someone else has already registered the SLD you want for your website, you’ll need to come up with an alternate name.
They are used by businesses and organizations to distinguish between different websites.
For example, the website “microsoft.com” has an SLD of “Microsoft”, while the website “windows.com” has an SLD of “windows”.
SLDs are not available for general use and must be registered with an ICANN-accredited domain name registrar.
A third-level domain is the next highest level in the domain name hierarchy. It is found directly to the left of the second-level domain.
For example, in the website team.diggitymarketing.com, the third level domain is team.
Third-level domains are often referred to as subdomains.
They are used to host different sections of a website. For example, our website “diggitymarketing.com” might have a subdomain for its blog at “blog.diggitymarketing.com.”
You need to be the owner of a domain to determine the third-level domain. As the owners of “diggitymarketing.com”, only we would be eligible to do this.
Premium domains are existing domain names that have already been registered and are for sale at a higher price than the standard registration fee.
Domain name registrars (we’ll cover these shortly) will often provide a list of these on their websites.
When considering whether to purchase a premium domain, there are several things you need to take into account.
- The age of the domain (older domains are generally more valuable)
- The popularity/traffic of the domain (popular domains are in high demand and can be expensive to purchase)
- The type of domain (generic TLDs, ccTLDs, or sponsored TLDs tend to be more expensive than other types)
- The availability of the domain (not all domain names are for sale)
- The registration fee (domain name prices vary depending on the registrar you use and the popularity of the domain name)
Some of the terminologies above may be new to you. Don’t worry, all will become clear as we proceed through this guide.
What Is A Custom Domain?
A custom domain is a unique branded name connected to a website’s IP address, just like your house is registered to your street address.
Examples of custom domains include:
Custom domains are a great way to build brand awareness, memorability, and search authority through your site name.
How To Buy A Domain Name
So far, we’ve looked predominantly at domain types.
Now that you’re familiar with these, we can move on to the purchasing process. So, in this section, I’ll take you through how to buy a domain name online.
Buying a domain name is a pretty simple process.
It includes six key steps, which are as follows:
1. Choose A Domain Registrar
The first step is choosing the right domain registrar. A domain registrar is a company that enables you to register a domain name on the internet.
There are many different registrars to choose from, so it’s essential to do your research before settling on one.
It’s important to register a domain name with the right domain registration provider.
As you’ll see, there are many available on the web. I’ll take you through some trustworthy domain providers shortly and ensure you’re familiar with the domain name registration process.
2. Choose A Domain Name
Once you have chosen your domain registrar, you’ll need to choose your domain name.
You’ll find out how to choose the best domain name for your business further below.
The key thing to remember is that the domain name is what people will remember and associate with your business. It’s also the way they’ll find you online.
Therefore, choosing a memorable yet professional name that suits your business is important.
3. Check Domain Availability
Once you have chosen your domain name, you’ll need to check its availability.
In many niches, finding an available domain name could take some time as competition is high.
To check the domain availability, you’ll need to input the domain name you want into the registrar’s search bar.
If it is available, the system will tell you and give you the option to buy it on the spot.
4. Purchase & Then Register The domain
Once you have checked that your desired domain name is available, you should be able to make your purchase through any regular online payment method.
Domain names can be registered for anywhere from one year to ten years, with most registrations set for an indefinite period of time.
5. Configure Your Domain Name
The next step in the process is to configure your new domain name.
To configure the domain, you will need to point it to your website’s host.
Your domain registrar will provide you with specific instructions on how to do this.
It’s important to remember that, in order for your website to be visible online, your domain must be pointing to the correct host provider.
The process involves pointing your DNS (Domain Name System) records at your host’s name servers.
The DNS is essentially the internet’s phone book, which helps visitors to find your website.
Your host provider is the company that will physically store your website’s files.
You can find all you need to know about Web Hosts in our dedicated Hosting Guide.
6. Register & Verify Ownership Of Your Domain
You’ll need to verify ownership of your domain name after it has been registered.
Typically, you can do this by adding a file to your web server or emailing the registrar a specific code. This code is provided in the confirmation email that is sent to you by the registrar after you have registered your web domain name.
It’s important to remember this step; otherwise, your website won’t be visible online.
Once verification is complete, your registrar will add an “authorized contact” record to the WHOIS database, which contains contact and registration information for domain names.
This verifies that you are the legal owner of the domain and allows you to make changes to it (such as transferring it to another provider if you ever need to).
Now that you know how to register a domain name for your business, let’s look at some of the most popular registrars from which to purchase your domain.
Where Is The Best Place To Buy A Domain Name?
There are multiple places online from which to purchase domain names. This could be from a domain name registrar, a web hosting provider, or a domain auction.
You can find an extensive list of options in this post about the cheapest place to buy domain names.
Getting into the technicalities of each of these is not necessary right now, but below you will get a quick overview of each.
The non-profit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) oversees the entire system of domain names. It allows outside companies, called domain registrars, to sell and manage domain names.
Typically, domain registrars do not offer hosting services. However, they will provide you with the tools necessary to connect your domain name to a hosting provider.
Web Hosting Providers
On the other hand, Web hosting providers often offer both a domain name and a hosting account.
They are somewhat of a one-stop-shop for all your online business needs and can provide you with everything you need to get your website online.
This may include an SSL certificate for further domain privacy or a professional email address to match your website’s domain.
The providers below are some of the most popular online options you’ll find when searching for a registrar online.
They are both reputable and offer competitive pricing.
As well as a great option for those who want a reliable hosting service along with their domain name, DreamHost is one of the most popular domain name providers in the world.
They offer a wide range of domain name extensions and provide an easy-to-use interface for registering your domain.
To get started, head over to the DreamHost website.
If you’re searching for a trustworthy brand, BlueHost is a great choice and another popular web host from which to purchase and register your domain.
Their low-cost beginner plans make them a popular choice for anyone looking to register a domain name.
Plus, they often offer a choice of free domain names when you set up your web hosting plan with them.
Hostgator offers a wide variety of domain name extensions and has competitive prices.
Any registered domains will be part of one of two domain registrars – eNom, or its own domain registration service, LaunchPad.
LaunchPad allows you to register a domain name directly at hostgator.com/domains or via the Customer Portal.
They provide a reasonably good hosting service and 24/7 customer support.
Cloudways is another managed hosting provider that also offers domains for purchase.
They are one of the best options for those who want to host their website on powerful cloud servers.
Their plans are scalable and secure, making them a great choice if you’re looking for a provider that can keep up with fast site growth.
Namecheap is an accredited domain name registrar that offers a wide range of extensions, including country-specific domains.
They are known to be an affordable choice with competitive pricing.
It’s quick and easy to register a domain name from NameCheap and (should you require) the web hosting service is inexpensive.
GoDaddy offers a wide variety of good domain extensions and has been known to offer some great deals.
It is easy to register a domain name with GoDaddy, and the website is user-friendly.
GoDaddy enables you to carry out a free domain name search, as well as a bulk domain search, to find a good domain that works for you.
You can do this through its domain name generator. This enables you to check availability or register multiple domains at once.
To get started with GoDaddy, click on this link and follow the instructions provided for your desired domain extension.
How Much Does It Cost To Get A Domain Name?
Generally, the cost of a domain name ranges from $0.99 to $35 per year, but this depends on several factors.
The cost is determined by the type of domain you choose, (such as an existing domain name, a new domain, or a premium domain).
Furthermore, the domain registrar, and whether you decide to add on any additional features or services such as hosting or domain privacy protection, will also determine the cost.
How To Choose A Domain Name: Why It Matters For Your Business
Your domain name is your online identity, and it can have a big impact on how customers perceive your business.
In this section, we will discuss the factors you should consider when choosing a domain name.
Choose An Appropriate Domain Length
Remember, a domain name is the identity of your website.
The most memorable domain names are short and easy. There’s nothing more irritating than typing a lengthy domain name into a search bar to access a website.
Most site names fall between two to four words long, with two or three being the most common length for a website domain.
Make It Memorable
Don’t fixate on the perfect domain name. But be sure to choose a name that your target audience will remember when they search for you.
Do this by using your business name, and/or keywords relevant to your niche.
You can also use catchy slogans or memorable rhymes to make your domain name easier to remember.
Avoid Special Characters, Numbers, And Hyphens
When it comes to domain names, avoid using special characters, numbers, and hyphens.
These can confuse those who don’t know what they mean or those who have trouble reading them.
Special characters especially may create problems for people using a different keyboard layout.
Choose An Appropriate Domain Extension.
As we’ve covered, this is the last part of your domain name, and it can be a great way to specify your industry, niche, or specific country.
The most common extension for online businesses is .com.
Summing It Up: What We Know About Domain Names
We’ve covered a lot in this article relating to obtaining a domain name and which type of domain you should purchase.
We’ve also looked at common mistakes to avoid when choosing one.
Let’s recap on the main points:
- Domain names are important for your business as they act as its identity.
- There are multiple providers available from which to purchase a domain name.
- A free domain name does not always present an opportunity to save money. It may require spending more on hosting plans or force you into choosing a specific domain extension. Be wary of free domain names when you see them advertised.
- When choosing a domain name, be sure to consider the length, memorability, and appropriateness of the name.
- Registering a new domain is an easy and affordable way to secure a presence for your business online.
Head over to Dreamhost today to get started and find the perfect domain for your online presence.