A domain name is a prerequisite to building a website. And without it, your readers or customers would not be able to locate your page virtually.
Registering one, on a good note, is a piece of cake.
So, do not fret if this is going to be your first time. I will help you throughout the process by sharing my quick step-by-step guide on how to register a domain name. I will show you how to get a domain name in different ways and how much each of them will cost you.
What is a Domain Name?
To digitally locate a website, each computer is assigned a distinct numerical IP address. But memorizing numbers is not easy.
Take Google’s IP address, for example. Its numerical IP address is: “126.96.36.199.”
Difficult to remember, right?
That is then where a domain name steps in. Essentially, it was developed to translate numerical addresses into human-readable domain names for users to locate a website. Thus, technically, a domain name is a substitute for a website’s numerical IP address.
To make it simple, a domain name is the address of your web page. It is a unique identifier your readers or patrons should use to locate your website by simply typing it in the address bar.
As such, instead of writing 188.8.131.52, you simply write “Google.com.”
What Is It Used for?
While domain names are essentially a tool to find a website virtually, it also provides several functions that are beyond being a site address. One example is that it serves as an extension to your brand’s name.
That being said, here are the popular domain extensions today:
How Much Does It Cost?
In general, the cost of acquiring a domain name ranges around $10 to $12 per year. But, on the flip side, no domain name has the same price and is typically dependent on various technical factors.
Having said that, here are some of the aspects that makes and breaks a domain name’s price:
- Popularity. TLDS such as .com are pricier compared to less used TLDs like .info and .blog
- Market price. Domain registrars and hosting providers sell domain names in different prices
- Length of subscription. Domain names paid annually are slightly cheaper compared to monthly payment
- Add-ons. Providers sell various domain privacy and security add-ons for domain names
Types of Domain Name
As of today, there are about three different domain names that users can choose from. And each domain serves distinct purposes.
- Top-level domains (TLDs). As its name suggests, a top-level domain name is the highest in the hierarchy of domain levels. It is placed at the end section of a web address hence it was also referred to as domain extensions.
The most widely used TLD is the ‘.com’ extension. But there are several popular extensions that you can opt for as well, including the .net and the .org extensions.
But that is not all. Since the continuous rise of digital marketing and online entrepreneurship, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has continued to introduce new and unique domain extension options.
You can now opt for a TLD that is relevant to your website’s niche; .biz, for example. You can also use Chinese and Arabic characters too.
- Generic Top-level domain (gTLD). Another type of web domain is the Generic Top-level or the gTLD. And unlike the top-level, these domain names are thematic extensions. To put it plainly, these extensions are by nature related to a specific subject.
gTLDs are then divided not two categories: the sponsored and the non-sponsored gTLDs.
- Some examples of sponsored gTLDs are .edu, .gov, .jobs, .mil
- Some examples non-sponsored gTLDs are .info, .tech, .shop, .art. and .yoga
3. Country code Top-level domain (ccTLD). A country code top-level domain, on the other hand, is a special type of domain name that can only be used exclusively by people who are residing in a certain country or territory.
That said, country code domain names typically contain two letters. For the United States, for instance, the domain name is ‘.us’ while the United Kingdom is ‘.uk.’
ccTLDs are not limited to specific countries as well. ICANN has also designated separate domains for geographically separated territories but is dependent on their parent countries government-wise. These include Australia’s Norfolk Island (.nf) and Christmas Islands (cx).
4. Second-level domain. The second-level domain name is the word—or the words—that comes before the top-level domain name. In www.google.com, for example, the SLD is the term Google.
The SLD may not be technically as important as the top and third-level domains. But business- and SEO-wise it is a crucial aspect because it describes your site’s niche. Using it, people can easily discern what type of services or products a company/store is offering.
5. Third-level domain. Last but not least is the third-level domain, also known as the sub-domain. In the example www.google.com, the TLD is the first section of the entire web address which is the www.
Essentially, a subdomain is utilized as a way to structure a webpage’s contents, as well as an online store. It is also used to categorize the site’s language or niche. Some of the common TLDs today are:
Now that you know what a domain name is, let’s proceed to the different ways you can register a domain name.
Step-by-step ways to register a domain name
Step 1: Pick a domain name registrar
The first and most important step to get a domain name is to choose a domain registrar.
Essentially, these are companies that ICANN permits to sell, as well as handle, domain names for web owners. One example—and widely used accredited registrar—is GoDaddy. Users can acquire a domain name through these domain registrars, and it can be done in three ways. The first is by a free domain host, the second is by purchasing one, and the third is by buying a premium host.
And as each category suggests, users can either get one for free or with pay by. But the question is, is there a difference?
Here’s a brief explanation of that.
1. For free. Domain names are also available for free. But depending on the provider where you acquire it from, the conditions vary.
Take hosting providers, for example.
Web host providers offer all-in-one web solutions that aspiring, and even veteran web enthusiasts, can use. And through these companies, you can acquire either a free or a paid domain name. Some popular web hosting solutions are WordPress, Wix, and Weebly.
On the one hand, while these providers allow you to own and manage a webpage, a site with a free domain name is extremely limited. Your web address, for instance, contains the hosting providers’ SLD.
(a) Free: www.sample.wordpress.com
(b) Paid: www.sample.com
Apart from that, some functions and customization tools are disabled as well.
2. With pay. Unlike when it is free, purchased domain names are totally yours. All functions and customization tools are enabled too.
That being said, here are the other popular hosting providers today:
ü InMotion Hosting
ü A2 Hosting
ü GreenGeeks Hosting\
3. Premium. Premium domains are high-quality domain names that are previously registered yet are being sold at today’s market price. These types of domain names are in demand due to their short and regularly searched names. Hence, they are acknowledged as “high-quality.”
Premium domain names often end with a .com TLD, too.
Step 2: Choose a domain name & check the availability
Once you have decided which domain registrar you would want to use, the next step is to think of a domain name (the second-level domain, to be exact) and check its availability.
That said, here are a few tips to help you create a perfect domain name.
- Make it memorable. Make your domain name memorable by keeping it short and straight to the point. Avoid using strange word spellings as people tend to forget words that are not familiar to them.
- Make it catchy. Domain names should be catchy as well. Try to use a term that would spark a reader or customer’s interest.
- Make sure it is related to your business or brand. Lastly, make sure that your web address is relevant and related to your business or niche. Using a domain name that does not describe your business would only confuse potential customers.
Once you have decided what domain name to use, check if it is available for purchase by searching it through the registrar’s search bar. The internet supports millions of domain names today, and hundreds to thousands are being added weekly.
As such, it is best to simultaneously check whether your desired site name is not yet taken. I suggest creating at least three to five domain names, too.
Step 3: Pick a domain extension
Next, decide what domain extension (top-level domain name) you would want to use. And just like the SLD, it is best to opt for an extension that suits your niche or biz.
For example, if your page talks about digital entrepreneurship, I recommend using ‘.biz.’ Although ‘.com’ is also suitable and is commonly used. On the one hand, if you are residing in a certain country, you might want to use a country-level domain name.
Step 4: Buy the domain name
When everything is set and ironed out, you can now purchase the domain name from your chosen web hosting provider or domain registrar. These web solutions offer varying conditions. Some offer a one-time payment for a half or a whole year of domain use.
But once the subscription has expired, you will have to renew it again.