One of the first steps you will take when creating your own website will be registering a domain name. Every single website out there has one! Just think of it as your websites address. If you want to go to someone’s house you need to know their address. If you want to visit someone’s website, you need to know their address. Sort of.
A common confusion with people who are new to websites is the difference between hosting and domains. Yes, both of these are required to display your website but the hosting is just the place where your files are stored. Hosting, or hosting server contains your websites pages, images, videos, etc. A domain name is registered to you for a contracted amount of time, often one or two years, and is provided by a registrar. You must have both a domain name and hosting for your website to be visible to people. If you don’t have a host, when people go to your address they wont see anything. If you don’t have a domain name, you might have your site sitting on a server somewhere but how to people get there in their browser?
Before you register a domain you should keep a few things in mind.
Keep it simple and short, try to avoid hyphens
I think it’s always good to try and imagine yourself telling someone your address over the telephone. Let’s look at a few examples of this.
Yes we can do that for you, just take a look at our website. The address is w w w dot i dash like dash registering dash domain dash names dot com
Yes we can do that for you, just take a look at our website. The address is w w w dot domain dash names dot com slash services
Yes we can do that for you, just take a look at our website. The address is w w w dot domain names dot com slash services
See the difference? Hyphens aren’t all bad. Just don’t over use them. Using one is often okay, but personally I would rather have none. You would be surprised how many people type dash as “dash” from a telephone conversation.
Relate it to your content, relevant domain names are easy to remember
Relating to your content may not always be relevant. There are two ways you can go with this. Firstly you can simply use your company or organisations name, this is fairly straight forward. eBay is the company www.ebay.co.uk is the address. Who would have guess it? Well, hundreds of millions of people.
Secondly you can have your address relate to what it is you offer. Do you know the DIY supplier B&Qs domain name? It’s www.diy.com, I bet you’re saying “I see what they did there”. In terms of search engine rankings keywords in your domain name do have some weight, there are many other factors which contributes to the rankings.
Different types of domains
There are different types of domain names out there which you may want to consider before registering. They are loosely tied to meanings. These are just a few of the common ones…
.com: traditionally these addresses are used for companies inside the USA, but over time they extended to companies who trade globally. Most companies will look to get a “dot com” address just for the branding factor.
.co.uk: these addresses are typically businesses within the UK.
.net: traditionally used for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) but in practice anyone can register a “dot net” address.
.org: these are supposed to be used for non-profit organisations but again, anyone can register a “dot org” address.
.biz: created for business websites but again anyone can register them. See what I mean by loosely tied meanings?
.info: this one was created for information websites.
- .tv: this was actually the top level domain for the Tuvalu islands, but it is now marketed for use in television and radio.
Once you have decided on your domain name you’ll want to register the domain. There are thousands of places you can register a domain, and most places which offer you hosting packages allow you to also register domains and most of these will have a special tool you can use. You will need to find out if your domain is free and this is where the tool comes in handy. A hosting company such as TSO Host has a tool you can use to check what is free and what is taken. Don’t be too upset if your dream domain is taken, there is plenty more out there. Just try different combinations until you find something you like. If you really are struggling take a look at the websites which are taken. Sometimes people have registered domain names but they may be in a parked state. This means that although they have it, they have not pointed it to a hosting package. Perhaps they are willing to sell it for a fair price—drop them an email and find out.
When you are registering your domain on a registrars website often they will have an option to keep the domain name private. This will exclude your details from a large internet database. This is not mandatory and is just down to your personal preference. Do you want people to find out your contact details to querying the database?
Let’s break this down a little.
- Write down some names you would like, relating to your company name and what you offer.
- Try to keep them nice and short. Keep it simple!
- Remember, how would you tell someone the address over the telephone?
- Check that it’s free.
- Register! The sites which allow you to register give you step by step instructions—don’t get too worried about it. It’s straightforward.
If you are ready to register (and get hosting at the same time if you require) I recommend TSO Host.