Simply put – your domain name is one of the most important pieces of your online presence that you can control. If you don’t have control, or aren’t sure if you have control or not – please read this section to learn more about your domain, and how it relates to your business ventures online.
Your domain name is like your tags on your car, in that you must pay for the ‘rights’ to use them per year. You never truly ‘own’ your tags/license plate – as it is the property of the state in which you live. You can register the tags for multiple years, and the same goes for your domain name. But don’t go sending a check to the department of licensing for your domain name – as that would be taking this analogy too far! As a matter of fact, don’t ever send a paper check to a ‘domain registrar’. If you aren’t on their own website – paying with a secure connection, don’t trust them. Call the domain registrar directly on the phone if you must – but don’t pay for a domain or domain extension without going to your registrar’s website, or talking to a representative over the phone.
In the online world, the procurement of domain names is handled by a ‘registrar’ company, who will help the process of purchasing the rights to any domain name. They check if a domain is already registered – and if the domain you want is available, will file the proper paperwork to hold the domain in your name for a designated amount of time.
Companies that will handle your domain registration have a variety of services available, many of which we’ll cover in other chapters of this book – but for building your online presence, we really want to focus on simply purchasing the domain name itself.
Domain registration companies:
- GoDaddy (https://godaddy.com)
- 1&1 (http://1and1.com)
- BlueHost (http://bluehost.com)
- Namecheap (https://namecheap.com)
- com (http://name.com)
- Gandi (http://gandi.net)
Each provider has different prices – for different periods of time. There are some that will offer deep discounts to first time purchasers, but will raise pricing when you go to resign/continue registration of your domain the next year. Average price for a ‘.com’ domain name shouldn’t be above $20/year, so if your registrar is charging more – there could be an obvious reason…
Since the dawn of the internet, there have been ‘poachers’ who purchase dirt-cheap domain names, knowing that someday – somewhere, there is a person who will want a domain – and will be willing to spend a little more money to gain the ‘rights’ to use it. To go back to my ‘vehicle tags’ analogy, it’s like acquiring ‘vanity plates’ – in that there are quite a few people who might want “2FAST4U” – so someone buys up the rights quickly, and places the ‘rights’ to that domain back online for a raised price. When the domain owner registers the domain initially, they send a message back to the registrar stating that they would like to auction the domain – and for the time being, will put a ‘this domain is being auctioned’ webpage in place. Anyone who is interested in purchasing the rights to the domain must contact the registrar to organize the transaction. If you find a domain that has an outrageous price tag – this is most likely the reason, but don’t be discouraged… just search for something similar that you can use for your business.
Domain Name Ideas / Research
When researching a name to purchase – there aren’t going to be very many ‘.com’ names remaining that are short enough to explain to someone on the phone without some sort of misspelling or intentional (some people call it clever) misspelling. I don’t agree with intentional misspelling, as it can confuse your potential customer – and if they accidentally spell the name ‘correctly’, they are going to be visiting another website, possibly owned by a direct competitor. The value of a ‘.com’ is gained in search engine results (instant boost over a ‘.net’ or ‘.biz’ address), in simplicity for your customers – but there is another value that isn’t seen often – in that you don’t need to use your full address all the time!