How to Buy Domain

If you’re thinking about starting a blog or an online business, the first step is to choose and buy a domain name, which is essentially the web address for your website. It might sound a bit complicated initially, but the process is quite straightforward.

How to Buy Domain
How to Buy Domain

This guide on domain buying will walk you through everything you need to know about domain name extensions. It will help you understand how to pick the right one for your specific requirements and provide the steps to check if a domain name is available and how to register it.

What is a Domain Name?

Before we dive into the main question of “how to buy a domain,” let’s start by understanding what a domain is. A domain name is essentially the web address of a website. Every website is identified by a specific IP address, which is a series of numbers (e.g., 573.8.5.3).

Because remembering these numerical IP addresses for every website is impractical, domain names are used as user-friendly substitutes to represent where a website can be found.

A domain name is typically composed of two parts: the second-level domain (SLD) and the top-level domain (TLD).

The SLD makes up the majority of the domain name and often contains a word or a series of words that represent the brand or content of the website. The TLD, on the other hand, is the extension that appears at the end of the domain, such as .com, .org, or .net, which are commonly recognized TLDs.

For example, the domain name for Barnes & Noble is “barnesandnoble.com.”

The primary function of a domain name is to provide users with an easy-to-remember address that they can type into their web browser when they want to visit a particular website.

For instance, if you wanted to shop on Amazon and didn’t have it bookmarked, the simplest way to access it would be to type “amazon.com” into your web browser’s address bar.

Types of Domains

When it comes to buying domains, there’s a wide variety to choose from. To make the right choice, it’s important to grasp the structure of a domain, which essentially consists of two key parts: a second-level domain (SLD) and a top-level domain (TLD).

Second-level domains (SLDs): An SLD is what most people typically think of as the name of a website. It’s the unique name you pick to represent your brand because it’s the part that sticks in people’s minds.

In a web address, the SLD appears just to the left of the dot followed by the extension (TLD). You can include letters, numbers, and special characters in an SLD, but it’s generally a good practice to keep it short and easy to remember.

Top-level domains (TLDs): TLDs are also known as domain extensions. They are the series of letters that come after the dot, to the right of your SLD. Some of the most popular ones include:

  • .com: Originally standing for “commercial,” this was the first TLD introduced, initially intended for business and commercial use. It remains the most popular choice.
  • .net: Originally denoting “network,” this was created for technology-related organizations but is now commonly used by various business website owners.
  • .edu: Short for “education,” this TLD was designed for universities, colleges, and educational institutions. These days, it’s mostly associated with U.S. educational institutions.
  • .org: Initially meant for “organization,” this TLD was developed for non-profit organizations but has gained popularity among schools, communities, and for-profit businesses.
  • .gov: Reserved for “government,” this TLD is strictly for use by U.S. government agencies.
  • .mil: Short for “military,” this TLD is exclusively for use by branches of the U.S. military.

In addition to these, there are country-specific TLDs (like .ca for Canada) and niche-specific domains (e.g., .coffee or .cheap). In total, there are over 1,500 different TLDs to choose from, and the list keeps expanding. It’s important to note that the cost and significance of different TLDs can vary.

Some TLDs carry more weight and prestige than others, which should influence your decision when purchasing a domain.

How Much Does a Domain Name Cost?

When you buy a domain name from domain registrars, you typically register it for one year, with the option to extend the registration for multiple years if you choose.

When the initial registration period is about to expire, the registrar will usually notify you, allowing you to renew the domain name. Some web hosting plans may also include domain names, but if they’re not included, your hosting provider will usually offer domain registration services.

Domains bought through Mailchimp are priced based on the top-level domain (TLD) you select, like .com or .net. For instance, a domain name with a common top-level domain such as .com can be obtained for as low as $12.99 per year, and there are often promotional discounts available.

When you purchase a domain from some websites, it includes free WHOIS privacy protection and a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate. The SSL certificate provides your website with both verification and encryption, enhancing its security.

It’s important to note that while you need a web hosting plan to make your website accessible on the internet, you do not need hosting in place to buy a domain.

So, if you already have a business or blog name in mind, you can secure your brand’s name for the future by purchasing and registering your domain name now. This gives you ample time to consider how to go about building your website.

How to Choose a Domain Name

When learning how to buy a domain name, it’s important to understand how to choose the right domain name. Rather than randomly selecting one, you should carefully consider a few key factors: branding, simplicity, and availability.

1. Choose an On-Brand Domain Name:

Before buying a domain name, think about how it aligns with your branding. Your chosen domain name will be what people see in their web browser’s address bar when they visit your site, so it should represent your business.

One straightforward approach is to use your company’s name. For instance, Walmart uses the domain name walmart.com. Variations of your company name can work as well; for example, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt uses hmhco.com.

2. Choose a Simple, Memorable Domain Name:

In addition to being on-brand, your domain name should be easy to remember. You want users to effortlessly recall your URL when they want to visit your site, so opt for a domain name that is short and clear.

Sometimes, this may require shortening your brand name. Taking the example of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt again, they use “hmhco.com” because “houghtonmifflinharcourtcompany.com” would be too long and hard to remember.

3. Choose an Available Domain Name:

The availability of your chosen domain name is another vital factor. You cannot use the same domain name as another website, similar to how two houses on the same street cannot have the same address.

If another site has already claimed the domain name you want, it won’t be available to you. If your business has a unique name, this won’t be as much of an issue. However, if your business name is common, like “Main Street Diner,” it’s wise to have a backup plan.

If your preferred domain name is unavailable, be prepared to brainstorm new names. In some cases, you can also approach the current owners of existing domains and, for a price, they may be willing to sell it to you.

f you need to change your domain name to find an available one, aim to keep it as short as possible and ensure it still reflects your brand. Consider using a variation of your company’s name, like “johnsonelectronics.com” for a company called “Taylor Johnson Electronics.”

How to Buy a Domain

Now that you have some background information on buying a domain name, let’s go through the steps to learn how to buy one:

Step 1: Choose a Domain Registrar

Begin by selecting a domain registrar, a company that manages domain names, such as GoDaddy. It’s important to choose a reputable registrar to avoid hidden fees or scams. Consider the following factors when making your choice:

  • Pricing: Look at the registrar’s pricing plans to find one that suits your budget.
  • Domain Expiration Policy: Ensure the registrar provides reminders or automatic renewals to prevent your domain from expiring.
  • Domain Transfer Policy: check for any hidden fees if you need to transfer your domain to another registrar.

Step 2: Compile Domain Name Options

You can only choose a domain name that isn’t already taken. To avoid spending time crafting the perfect domain name only to find it’s already in use, make a list of several domain name options you like.

Step 3: Find Available Domain Options with a Domain Checker Tool

Use a domain checker tool, like the one offered by Mailchimp, to see if your chosen domain name is available. This tool helps you quickly check the availability of your options. Simply enter your desired domain name, and it will show you which ones are available.

Step 4: Choose an Available Domain Option that Fits Your Brand

Select a domain name from the available options that aligns best with your brand. Now that you have a list of available domain name choices, you can make your selection based on what suits your brand and requirements.

Step 5: Buy the Domain Name

To complete the process, purchase the chosen domain name. Follow the instructions provided by your registrar, which may include providing additional details like your email address and physical address. You will also need to add your payment details to finalize the purchase. Once you’ve completed this step, congratulations, you’ve successfully acquired your domain name!

Most domain registrars offer an auto-renewal feature to ensure you don’t lose your website’s domain due to forgetting to make the next payment.

Thus, after buying your domain name, you will need to renew it annually.

FAQ

When should I buy a domain name?

It’s a good idea to purchase your domain name as soon as possible. Many people buy domain names regularly, so if you delay, your desired name might already be taken.

What do I do after I buy my domain name?

After acquiring your domain name, the next step is to choose a web hosting service. Think of your domain as the street address, and web hosting as the actual building located at that address where all your website’s files are stored.

Often, domain registrars also offer web hosting services, allowing you to get both in one place. If you prefer, you can obtain web hosting from providers like Bluehost, Hostinger, HostGator, and others. Regardless of the method, web hosting and domain registration are the essential components of creating a website.

Does a domain name registration expire?

Yes, every domain name has an expiration date. When you buy a domain name, you’ll see its expiration date along with the registration date. It’s crucial to make a note of this date and ensure you renew your domain name before it expires to avoid losing it.

Who sells website domains?

Domain registrars are the companies that sell domains. When you register or purchase a domain name, you do it through a domain registrar. GoDaddy is one of the most well-known and established registrars, but there are various other registrars available as well.

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