Domain Names

The first step in creating a website or blog is to register a domain name. A domain name is the address people will use to find your site. There are a few key things you want to keep in mind when choosing your domain. I’ll go over those here as well as walk you through the steps to set up yours.

There’s a lot of data out there about choosing a domain name, but basically you want it to be something that is unique, something that is related to your business or product, and something that is easy to remember. Shorter is typically better and try to use words that are common to your niche. Stay away from slang or invented words unless they are something that is widely used by your audience. Also, stay away from hyphenated phrases. You want to try to stick with .com or .net domains as those are the most common. I recommend taking some time to write down several ideas for domain names before you start your search. You’ll get additional ideas as you determine which of these is available, but having a list of potential names will give you a good jumping-off point for doing your search.

There are a number of places you can register a domain name. Each company offers different services and some are cheaper than others. Beware of hosting companies who offer a free domain if you purchase hosting from them. While not all are like this, some put a lock on your domain making it hard for you to transfer it if you ever decide to host your site elsewhere if the service degrades, if you outgrow your initial hosting company, or if  you just find a better deal somewhere else down the road.

I prefer to use GoDaddy for all of my domains. While they aren’t necessarily the cheapest, they are reasonably priced, easy to use, very flexible, and have excellent 24/7 customer service. You also have the option of hosting your website or blog with GoDaddy or hosting it somewhere else while continuing to manage your domain with them. For the sake of this post, I will be using GoDaddy as an example for how to register and manage your domain name.

Once you have a list of potential domain names for your website or blog, go to the domain name registrar site of your choice and begin your domain name search. At GoDaddy, you’ll see a form that looks something like this:

domain name search

Enter your domain name including .com or .net and click “Search”. If your domain is not available, you will see a message like the one below:

domain not available

If you are using GoDaddy, you will also receive a list of recommended domains if the one you want isn’t available. Sometimes if the .com version of a domain name isn’t available, the .net version will be. Other times, you can get ideas for alternate names from the list of suggestions.

If the domain name you want is available (begin happy dance!), you will see the following message:

domain name available

Click “Continue to Cart” to register your domain. If you don’t already have an account at GoDaddy, you will be asked to set one up. GoDaddy will offer you several other services to go with your domain, but for now, just register the domain and don’t worry about anything else at this point. The only decision to be made is for how long you want to register the domain name. This is totally up to you. I typically only register a domain for 1 year if it’s a new project. If it’s tied to my business name or I’m getting it at a discounted price, I will usually register it for 2 years. Be sure to set the domain to auto-renew. GoDaddy sends out several reminders before a domain name is set to expire, but you don’t want to risk losing your domain simply because you forgot to renew it. You can change this setting if you decide later that you no longer want to keep the domain.

It can take up to 24 hours before your domain will be fully set up. Once it’s set up, you will see a page similar to the one below.

parked domain

This is what’s known as a parked page. It’s a page that your domain registrar sets up for you, typically for free, where your domain is “parked” until you get your hosting account set up and your website or blog is ready to go live. You cannot edit this page, but in the next post, I will show you how to change your domain name settings so that it goes to your website, once it’s set up, instead of the parked page.

That’s pretty much it. I hope the data here was helpful. Let me know in the comments what you thought and don’t hesitate to post any questions you might have. I’ll do my best to answer them as quickly as possible.

Thanks again for stopping by!

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