Purchasing Your Domain Name

Contents

Research Prior to Choosing a Domain

  • Keyword research: Does the domain use popular and focused keywords? Make sure the domain and its associated URLs will be conducive to search engine visibility. Check it on tools like Overture Keyword Selector, Google Suggest, WordTracker, and Keyword Discovery.
  • Linkability: Does the domain have appeal to bloggers and Webmasters who might consider linking to you? Links are crucial to your site's SEO. This means links should be straightforward and not hard to remember.
  • Top-level domain: Choose the proper top-level domain (.com, .net, .org, .info, and so on). If your business is in the United States, then you should use .com as your domain. While there is nothing wrong with .net and .org domains, they are not perceived as being as "professional" as .com domains. The .org domain is still perceived as nonprofit.
  • Relevancy: Make sure your domain name is relevant to your business. Don't buy a URL because it sounds cool or has personal merit. Buy it because it has direct, focused keyword relevance to you business.
  • URL length: On the other end of relevancy is the issue of being too specific. Don't get too long and detailed at the top; you can always get more specific as you go deeper into subdomains. Shorter domain names are also easier to remember and type.

Tools to Help You Find a Domain Name

Finding a domain name that you're happy with and is available can sometimes be easier said than done. For those times when you just can't come up with any ideas, there are websites out there to help!

  • Domainr: Nowadays, it’s difficult to find a domain name that end with the popular .com, .net, and .org TLD‘s. Domainr is an innovative web tool that helps you explore other TLD’s that have made popular websites like last.fm and del.icio.us stand out from the crowd. Of course, searches will also include popular top-level domains that are available.
  • Dot-o-mator: Dot-o-mator is a web tool that suggests site names based on prefixes and suffixes that you’ve entered (keywords). Alternatively, you can use a category of prefixes (like "Tech" or "Games") and suffixes (like "Hardware" or "Web 2.0 words") to generate suggested site names for you. It’s a helpful tool for, at the very least, obtaining inspiration for a site name.
  • DomainTools: Domain Tools is a set of domain name search engines that will help you uncover relevant information about certain domain names. They have a "Whois" search that reveals records about the party who registered the domain, a "Suggestions" search to help you find similar domain names, a "Domain Search" which shows you what TLDs of a domain name are available, and domain names that are "For Sale" or "At Auction".
  • Nameboy: Nameboy is a popular domain name generator. This straightforward web tool asks for a "Primary Word" and "Secondary Word" that describe the topic of your website, and based on your input, it suggests possible domain names. For example, typing in "web" as the Primary Word and "superman" as the Secondary Word returned results such as webhero, supeweb and supermanweb. There’s a "Rhyme" option that tries to suggest domain names that rhyme with the search phrases, but the feature didn’t seem to work on the above example.

Choosing a Domain Company

There are tons of different domain registrars out there, but some are definitely better than others. Each one has its own benefits, and we will list 5 of the most popular ones and give a little bit of insight as to what they offer:

  • Namecheap: (1 year registration- $9.98) Domain registration at Namecheap is economical, as their name implies, but Namecheap hasn't built a name for itself just by offering the absolute cheapest deals in town. Namecheap's reputation rests on fantastic customer service and value-added packages. You get solid customer service, free email and URL forwarding, free and customizable domain parking, free domain transfers, dynamic DNS services if you want to redirect a domain to your home server, and more.
  • 1&1: (1 year registration- $4.99) The cheapest trustworthy registrar around. All 1&1 domain registrations include a simple five-page starter website (consider it a "super" domain parking package), an email account with 2GB of storage, and free private domain registration to shield your personal information. 1&1 also offers free domain transfer.
  • GoDaddy: (1 year registration- $11.99) GoDaddy has built a customer base by offering cheap package deals (combining domain registration and web hosting) as well as frequent specials on domain registration. GoDaddy registrations include what amounts to a free mini-hosting plan. You get a five-page web site based on one of their templates, a photo album, blogging tools, and an email account with 1GB of storage. Although GoDaddy doesn't offer free private registration, if you register five or more domains, it's free for all of them.
  • Name: (1 year registration- $9.99) Name.com goes beyond simple domain name searches and offers alternative suggestions including domain names that are currently held but up for auction. While the majority of us are looking to register domains cheaply and quickly, it's good to know that the domain other services would simply flag as "Unavailable" is actually up for auction. Name.com also has a service called Domain Grabber. If you really want a domain but it's unavailable, you can pay Name.com (typically between $20-50) to pounce on the domain should it become available.
  • Gandi: (1 year registration- $16.85) Gandi's mission as a registrar and host is to offer clean, simple, no nonsense service. Every registration includes two free SiteMaker pages, one free DotClear2 blog, private domain registration, a free 1-year SSL certificate, and a personal email. If you manage a large number of domains, Gandi also offers a user-friendly dashboard with tag-based organization and search.

Domain Purchasing Tips

Domain vs Hosting: While domain registrars typically do offer hosting solutions as well, that doesn't mean you have to host the website through them. For example, WSM offers web hosting services, so when the time comes to purchase a domain name that domain can simply be hosted on our servers.

If your desired domain is taken: Look into purchasing the domain name from the owner. Very often it is possible to do this, but be aware that more desirable domain name can be much more expensive than more obscure ones. For example, you can use a site such as http://www.domain.name/auctions.php to locate the desired domain name and research the price at which it can be bought.

Buy your domain for the most time you can afford: If you are dedicated to your online business and know you will operate the website for a long time, it is extremely beneficial to buy the longest possible plan that you can. Besides the fact that in the long run this will probably save money and lower your chances of losing the domain, Google also takes it into account when ranking sites. Google sees domains that have been owned or are going to be owned for the longest amount of time as more relevant and useful when indexing site pages.