What is a Domain Name? Everything You Need to Know

Domain names are the web address for your website or blog. Domain names are made up of two parts, the actual domain name and the associated extension. You can’t own a domain name, you can only register it for a year at a time. This is an expense everyone who has a website pays.

Some suggest going through the web host to get your domain, but this a costly mistake. It’s cheaper and better to register your domain at a domain name registrar.

Get your domain names at the #1 domain registrar Namecheap.

How Do I Get a Domain Name?

You can get a domain name at a web host or through a domain name registrar like GoDaddy or Namecheap. The reason is that when you have a hosting account it needs to have a “primary” domain associated with it.

A lot of web hosts offer a “free domain” (like Blue Host) in order to entice your to sign up through them but nothing is free. What actually happens is that you end up paying an inflated price for your domain name through the web host because they have to tack on a fee in order to make it profitable for them.

ICANN controls and manages domain names. You can only use a domain name registrar to get your domain names. If you go through a web host you’re just adding a middle man to the process because your web host will register your domain name on your behalf through a domain name registrar.

It also complicates things if you ever want to change web hosts. Instead, it’s best to register through a domain name registrar. This has a few advantages:

  • Complete control over your domain name. Want to sell it, transfer it, redirect it to a different URL. If it’s at a domain name registrar this is all easy to do.
  • Makes changing web hosts much more easy. You just have to update the DNS setting which takes a few minutes and that is it.
  • Better prices if you go through a domain name registrar. Namecheap charges 50% less for domain name registration than a web host!

Where Should I Register My Domain Names?

There are numerous ICANN certified registrars that you can use. The most popular being GoDaddy. However, I find GoDaddy to be a bit expensive for getting your domain name. My personal domain name registrar where I have ALL my domain names is Namecheap.

Namecheap:

GoDaddy:

Namecheap charges around $10 per year for a domain. GoDaddy charges around $20 per year for a domain. What I also like about Namecheap is how straight forward the pricing is.

GoDaddy is also intentionally confusing so you spend more than you want. You get a discount on your domain name upon registration, but then the price goes up to around $20.

How To Register a Domain Name With Namecheap

Head over to Namecheap.

Step 1:  Visit Namecheap.com and on the home page will be a search box. Here you can enter in the domain name you would like to register.

Step 2: It may take some time trying different combinations of words to find a domain name that is available. Once you find a domain name that is available go ahead and add it to your cart.

Step 3: You’ll need to create a Namecheap account in order to purchase and manage all your domain names. Once you do that and are ready to confirm your order you’ll need to make a few selections:

Domain Registration – Here you can how long you want to register the domain name for. I would suggest a year or 2 for a new website. Once you have an established, profitable website I would then go ahead and register for 5+ years.

WhoisGuard – Protects your privacy. When you register a domain name you have to give a name, address and email. This is public information. WhoisGuard sets this to private. This is FREE with Namecheap (GoDaddy and a web hosts you need to pay for WHoisGuard).

Get your domain names at the #1 domain registrar Namecheap.

What Should My Domain Name Be?

Domain names are very important from a branding perspective. Don’t over think this, but do get something flexible and professional. Drew Binsky for example used to blog at the domain name “TheHugryPartier.com.” Is this the sort of brand other companies would want to associate their brand with.

No, it’s immature and unprofessional. Drew ended up rebranding his website to his name, DrewBinsky.com.

You have a few different options when registering a domain name. You can register your name for starters. This gives you the flexibility to pivot topics and it helps build your personal brand. It’s not ideal though if you want to build a sellable asset.

Next you can register a brand name. Like NinjaFinance.com. This is great because it’s clear what this website is about for visitors and search engines and it’s not 100% tied to you.

Last and worst is to go with a keyword heavy domain name. Chris Guthrie paid 10k for the domain name “makemoneyontheinternet.com.” Google used to like exact match domain names, but then lazy marketers stepped in and leveraged this to rank spammy websites. So Google changed is algorithm to penalize sites like. Chris had to rebrand is website as upfuel.com.

What Are Domain Extensions?

Extensions are the .com, .net, .org part of the domain name. Extensions have a few different purposes you need to be aware of.

1) Extensions help identify the purpose of a website.

For example, anything with a .EDU means an accredited academic institution. Anything with a .gov is a United States government agency. A .com is for commercial websites while a .net was created for a website that acted as a portal for a network of websites.

2) Extensions can also be for individual countries.

These extensions are called “country codes”. Examples would be .au for Australia, .de for Germany, .UK for the United Kingdom.

A list and explanation of all the Internet top level domains and country codes can be found here.

3 – The Most Popular Extension is the .com

The .com is the legacy extension and still the most popular for registering a website. You should strive to get a .com. In practice people only get a .net, .org or a .co because the .com was taken.

Is .a com “better” than a .co, .org or a .net?

From a branding perspective yes, but from an SEO perspective NO. Google treats all these domain names as “top level” domain names so one is not better than the other from a technical perspective.

In practice most register a .co, .net or .org simply because they could not get a .com. I personally prefer .co as an alternative domain extension. Here is quick video explaining the differences between a .co and a .com:


What Are Premium Domain Names?

You can also buy a “premium” domain name if you like. A premium domain name is a domain that is (or has been) already registered by someone and has a lot of demand. For example, candy.com is a premium name – it’s specific and tens of thousands of people want it and will pay top dollar for it.

You can buy premium domains at any registrar, but don’t spend any more than a few hundred dollars (and only if you have some money to spend and the domain you want is premium).

Who should buy a domain name? Business should buy a premium domain name. Say you’ve registered the .co version of a website and built it out but were then able to buy the .com version at a premium price. If the price is right, this sort of scenario makes sense for spending a few hundred dollars on a domain name.

Advice For Finding the Right Domain Name

Let get into a bit more of WHAT makes for a good domain name. Again as I said, don’t over think this but don’t make the mistakes Drew and Chris made.

My first website I ever started was called SuperAwesomeDating.com. About as dumb of a name as you can get. If nothing else, get a domain name you can be proud of and not embarrassed by. One that is a bit flexible so you’re not stuck on one narrow topic but also descriptive of what your website is about.

Descriptive Domain

Descriptive names are best for content driven sites that provide specific information to solve a problem, or to educate. Example would be CreateaClickableMap.com. That’s  a great name for that service that does exactly what the domain name implies. It allows you to create a clickable map for your website.

Descriptive names are easy to come up with. Just take your keyword (your main word or phrase you would like to rank for in search engines. Example would be “create a clickable map,” a phrase that has some decent search volume) and use it in your domain in some way.

So If I wanted to rank for ESL English Teacher and I wanted a descriptive domain name I would go with something simple like ESLEnglishTeacher.com or ESLEnglishTeacherHQ.com etc.

Most of the time however I suggest branded domain names unless you’re creating a very specific service or you’re solving a specific problem.

Branded names are a bit more tricky. They need to be purposeful, original and concise. They need to be the essence of what your site is about. Otherwise there will be a disconnect between your products, services and content, and what your domain name actually is. Take a look at WebsiteCreativePro.com.

If you were to tell someone that domain name, would they get what it’s about? YES. Something about creating websites or a web design company.

Memorable Domain Names

Domain names need to be memorable. Keep it as simple as you can be but also convey a sense of curiosity.

Use As Few Words As Possible

Most 1 word domains are taken unless you simply make up something. Diply.com comes to mind. A single word that literally means nothing. It was created in 2013 and has grown into the fastest growing website to date.

Easy To Repeat

People won’t remember your domain name if it’s not easy to repeat. You don’t care so much that people won’t repeat it to other people. What you’re more concerned is about people repeating it to themselves in their head.

Straight Forward Spelling

TwoApples.com or 2Apples.com? Wait, or is it Two-Apples.com? Using numbers, words with different spellings, hyphens and even weird domain extensions cause confusion. Avoid this.

General Domain Name Advice:

  • For your first website, get a .com. When people  register a .net or .org it’s almost always because the .com was registered by someone else.
  • Go for a branded domain. Like FinanceNinja.com  would be good for a finance website. Avoid spammy sentence based URL’s like “HowToDrawAHorse.com” as Google may penalize your spammy sounding domain name.
  • Make it something easy, memorable, and repeatable.
  • Don’t stress and agonize over this too much. Just get something good, it does not not have to be great.

Get your domain names at the #1 domain registrar Namecheap.

Domain Names: Advice and Guides

  • How To Register a Domain Name
  • What is ICANN?
  • GoDaddy vs Namecheap
  • How To Sell a Domain Name
  • The Important Parts of a URL
  • .com, .net, .org – Does it Matter?

How to Register a Domain Name

Read: How To Register a Domain Name

Learn how to register a domain name with this dedicated blog post. This guide covers all the various ways to go about getting a domain name through both a web host and through different domain name registrars as well as what mistakes to avoid. This guide covers the process of registering a domain name in greater depth.

What is ICANN?

Read: What is ICANN and Why is It Important?

ICANN is the organization responsible for managing various domain name extensions and making sure the internet functions properly. When you register a domain name you always have to pay as small ICANN fee and this post explains what ICANN is and why it is important.

GoDaddy vs Namecheap

Read: GoDaddy vs Namecheap

The two most popular domain name registrars go head to head in this comparison post. What are the pros and cons of each registrar and what situations should you choose GoDaddy or Namecheap.

How to Sell a Domain Name

Read: How to Sell a Domain Name

Did you know you can sell a domain name for hundreds, if not thousands of dollars if you get the right domain name? Often, people forget that buying and selling a domain name is a real thing and in this guide I’m going to show you how it is done.

Parts of a URL Explained

Read: Parts of a URL

While the domain name is made up of two parts, the whole URL of a website is a bit more complicated. Learn what the various parts of a URL are so you know what the difference is between say a “sub domain” or “directory.”

Does it Matter if My Domain Name is .com, .net or .org?

Watch: .com, .net, .org – Does it Matter?

In this video I discuss if it is important to have a .com or not for SEO purposes.

DOMAIN NAMES CONCLUSION

That covers everything to do with domain names. You should be set on how best to go about registering a domain name. If you liked Website Creative Pro, please share on your favorite social media platform as it really helps the website.

Last, checkout the domain name category for all things domain name related that is published on Website Creative Pro.

Get your domain names at the #1 domain registrar Namecheap.