Buying a domain name is actually pretty straight forward, and requires no technical expertise whatsoever. Phew!
There are some considerations though before you click the buy button (besides the actual process of choosing a domain name).
A domain name registrar is an accredited organization that has been given the rights to manage the reserving of particular generic Top-level Domains and country code Top-level Domains.
Examples are Network Solutions and GoDaddy.
Should You Get Your Domain from Your Web Host? No…
A lot of web hosting services offer a free domain name with their hosting services.
But, I do not recommend that you register your domain name with your host. These are the reasons why:
- You may decide you don’t like your host anymore – or find a cheaper alternative. With your domain name registered at your host, it makes moving elsewhere a hassle.
- Keeping your domain names in one location is much easier to manage. Most people buy more than one domain name (it becomes addicting – I have over twenty!) so it’s much easier to manage all your DNS settings in one place.
- There’s an extra layer of security built into having your domain name and hosting with different companies. That way, if someone is able to hack into your hosting account, they won’t also have access to your domain name. Oy, that would suck (and it has happened to people).
Who.is Look-up & Protection
There are databases across the web that store information on who has registered a domain name. The service that looks up this information is called WHOIS (literally pronounced “who is”). In addition to showing the person who registered the domain, it also provides other information about the domain such as the DNS, IPs, registration dates etc. Check out a website you know here: http://who.is
Obviously, you might not want your name associated with your website. Perhaps you’re using it for a project outside of work or in an industry that you don’t necessarily want to be associated with, like you’re a astro-physicist and you love romance novels – yes, the Fabio kind (not that there’s anything wrong with that, he makes me want fake butter oh so bad ;-).
Anyway, there are services to protect your identity like Domains by Proxy or WHOIS Guard, the later comes free with domains purchased through Namecheap.com.
Buying Alternate Domain Names
If you weren’t able to find a .com, you may have to live with a .net. That’s fine, no worries.
However, if you are able to nail down a sweet .com with a super brandable name, you may want to buy the .net and .org versions as well. This can prevent against competitors snapping up these names.
Likewise, if you have a name that is somewhat easy to misspell, then you may want to purchase the misspellings and redirect them to your domain in case someone types them into their browser wrong. For instance, my last name is Ramsay, so when I set up my dad with a website for his consulting business I bought a domain with both Ramsay and Ramsey (the more common spelling) in it. Then, as I mentioned, I’d just redirect the misspelled version to the correct one. Anyway, for less than $15 per year, it’s worth it to me.