Selecting a domain name for your website is one of the first things a website needs and probably one of the most difficult. The domain name is what someone types into the URL box on a browser to get to a site. Think of it as an unique location identifier like an address. All domains have a suffix which the TLD or “top level domain” it goes with. There have always been a limited amount of these TLDs, but more and more have been added such as, “pro”, “shop”, “app”, etc. Here’s a list of some TLD that you may have seen:
- com – Commercial (the default in TLDs)
- edu – Education
- gov – Government Agencies
- net – Network Organizations
- org – Organization (usually non-profit)
The cost for a domain name can vary slightly, but they average about $12-$14 a year. There’s also “Domain Name Privacy” that can be purchased which protects the identity of who purchased the domain. This is also a yearly expense and will cost an additional $10 a year. Anyone can go to a WHOIS site and see the information of who purchased a particular domain. Domains can be purchased from companies like GoDaddy, Network Solutions, Bluehost, Hostgator, etc.
Most web developers leave the domain purchasing with the client. Be aware though that some web development companies will purchase the domain name for themselves and later on when you need that domain, they’ll try to sell it to you for a lot more, technically holding it hostage. You can go to court with them since the domain name relates to your business in most cases. But by a client purchasing the domain themselves, it makes things easier in case they want to go with another hosting company for their website. The new hosting company will just need the login credentials of the domain account so they can point it to the new server/hosting.
What Makes a Good Domain?
Some general rules for choosing a domain name that make it look professional would be the length of the domain. The shorter, the better, however it is becoming more difficult to choose domain names now. Sometimes just having a two-word domain could be good enough. Also, the domain for your business doesn’t necessarily have to match your business name exactly. For instance, if you have a business called, “Archie’s Carwash Service & Detailing”, it would be a little ridiculous to have “www.archiescarwashserviceanddetailing.com” as a domain name. It would be better to use, “www.archiescarwash.com” or “www.archieswash.com”. Remember, the shorter the better.
Checking the Availability of a Domain
Let’s say you finally have got a list of possible domains you’d like. One of the best ways to research if it’s available is to just type it in your browser. For example, if you have the domain “www.mydomain.com” picked out, just type that into the URL box. If you get an error message, chances are it’s available. You can also do a quick search on any WHOIS site and get results. Some developers believe that if you search for a domain’s availability using a company like GoDaddy at first, and you’re not ready to purchase, they might have some kind of system where they’ll purchase it and sell it at a higher price.