Domain Names For Dummies

Hey it’s Dave. Ready to learn everything you could ever want to know about domain names? You’re in the right place.

The goal of this page is to help you learn how to register a domain name, and to become much more knowledgeable about domains. Apart from Wikipedia (overly technical explanation), there is no clear explanation of what domain names are exactly so I decided to create this page for newbies.


Ready to get started with this free tutorial?

Domain Name Jargon:

Like any industry, domain names have their own jargon. Here are the phrases you’ll here and their meaning:

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WHAT ARE DOMAIN NAMES AND WHY ARE THEY SO IMPORTANT?

Your domain name is important from a branding perspective. In the past, people would register ridiculous domain names like makemoneyontheinternet.com (actual website that has since been redirected to a less spammy URL) as a way to rank for specific keywords.

While keywords are important in a domain name, they are not as important as they once were. It’s fine to have a single keyword or perhaps two keywords like DirtBikePlanet.com, a site about dirt bikes BUT don’t over do it. You want to take into consideration:

1 – Branding. Your domain is your brand. You want to get it right. You want something that people read and can quickly understand what the site could be about simply from the domain name OR you want something brandable and memorable.

2 – The first impression. A bad domain name will be a liability for your branding. Look at the website Overstock.com. They have to create commercials where they say “people think we only sell over stocked goods but we don’t.” Of course people are going to think that, your site is called Overstock.com! Think about the domain you want to use and come up with a 1-3 word domain name ideally. 2 words is best, but tough as most 2 word combos are taken.

3 – SEO – Don’t register a spammy sentence as a domain name. Come up with something better. Something you can be proud of.

What about using your name? Your name can work depending on your name. Names are best for an expert business or as an “about me.” They also allow some flexibility with the content you want to be creating as you can pivot from one topic to another. SteveScottSite.com started out as a personal development blog that changed into a blog about online business.

Domain names are the web address of your website. They are made up of two parts, the actual name and the extension. Extensions are the .com, .org, .uk, .net, (and so forth) part of a domain name. Any domain with these extensions are known as “top level” domains.

What about Domain Name Extensions?

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.

The Most Popular Extension is the .com

The most popular and universal top level domain name is of course the .com, and that’s the extension you should get. Don’t do weird top level domain names. I will always take a 2 or 3 word .com over a shorter .net, .org etc word. In practice most register a .net or .org because the .com version of the domain name they wanted was already registered. Start off right from the beginning and go with a .com. A .org does however work well with health terms. Registering a new .com will cost no more than $10 a year.

Premium Domain Name

You can also buy a “premium” domain name if you like. A premium domain name is a domain that is already registered by someone and has a lot of demand. For example, candy.com is a premium name – it’s specific and 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).

What is private registration for domains?

When you register a domain name your contact information is public. Something called a “WHOIS” search can be performed on your domain and anyone anywhere can find the details you submitted for your contact information.

Don’t like the idea of your contact details being public? That’s what private registration is for. It’s an extra fee on top of your registration fee that masks your details with a proxy company so when someone does a WHOIS search the proxy shows up instead of your information.

Is it worth it?

No, when you’re starting out it’s not necessary. The main question you should ask yourself is why do you need to hide your details? If you’re building out a legit site there should be no reason to hide your name and email. You should understand what private registration as it related to learning how to register a domain name, but otherwise don’t concern yourself with it at this point in time.

How much do domain names this cost?

$11 a year for registration of each .com domain name extension at Namecheap. The price points for domain name extensions other than the .com are less (unless we’re talking .co’s in which those are more expensive as a means to detour squatters from registering domain names that they will simply hold on to).

Also, your cost is reduced if you register for longer than one year. That’s one of the reasons why you should consider registering for 2-3 years minimum in advanced. Not only does it demonstrate to search engines that your site is in it for the long haul – it saves you money.

Advice For Finding the Right Domain Name

Now that you know how to get a domain name, what domain name should you pick?

Get a Good Domain Name you can be proud of

My first website I ever started was called SuperAwesomeDating.com.

About as dumb a domain name as you can get. If you don’t have the right domain name THERE IS NO POINT IN STARTING.

A good domain name should be:

Descriptive

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 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.


See also:


Conclusion

There is a lot more to a domain name than meets the eye. But hopefully if you’ve made it this far (and actually read the material!) you should have a strong grasp as to the most common questions with domain names: What are domain names, how do I get a domain name, how do you register a domain name and so forth.

So you should be ready to register your domain name. Head over to Namecheap and get started.

Do you have and tips or advice for coming up with clever domain names? Let me know in the comments below!