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Building a Web Site: Choose and Register Your Domain Name

Your domain name is the "address" of your web site. You can check what domain names are available by going to a registration service and typing in your domain idea. Some places to register domain names are:

Choosing your domain name

When choosing your domain name, keep these things in mind:

  • Easy to remember
    Make your domain name easy to remember and easy to spell, if you are able to (if you company name has unconventional spelling, you can only do so much...). For example, www.kidcare.com is much easier to remember than www.kindergartenandpreschooldaycare.com (plus, a lot of people won't be able to spell "kindergarten!")
  • Short and sweet
    The shorter your domain name, the easier it is for people to type (and the less chance there is of spelling errors!).
  • Hidden words?
    Check your domain name ideas to make sure that there aren't 'hidden' words that could be detrimental to your image. For example, let's say there's a music company called "Sonic Rap." Registering their domain as "www.sonicrap.com" ... well, do you see the problem there?
  • Search engine issues
    Some search engines use your domain name to help rank the relevancy of your site. (Others, don't.) If a keyword phrase can be incorporated into your domain name, it may help your ranking on some search engines. (You have to balance this with the "easy to remember" and "shortness" of your domain name - it's probably better to err on the "shortness" side.)
  • Try to get a "dot com" or "dot org"
    Let's face it, everyone is used to the ".com" at the end of a web address. You'll make life easier for yourself if you can find a domain that has the ".com" available. However, if you're an organization, you'll probably just want to register for the ".org." ".net" is also a popular choice, but we've seen that most .nets end up purchasing the .com anyway.
  • How long do you want it?
    You can register your domain for at least a year, or save some money and register it for several years.

Watch out!

When registering your domain name, the services often like to "persuade" you to host your web site with them or sign up for some other related service. This can sometimes be a little underhanded and tricky. For example, they may add a "free month" of hosting to your shopping cart automatically - the total cost that you pay for doesn't change, but you end up signing up (and paying for) hosting. (If you want to host with them, that's fine, but make sure that YOU are choosing to!) Other companies may try to persuade you to "purchase" an email address as well - there is no need to do this if you already have plans to host your web site with someone else, because most hosting plans come with email plans as well.

If you want to look for hosting elsewhere, you should probably look into hosting first. Sometimes they can provide deals on domain registration, or they register the domain for you as part of the package price, so that it saves you time later! If you still want to purchase the domain yourself, then be sure that you are ONLY paying for the domain name and NOTHING else... not a "free month" of hosting, not extra email addresses, etc.!

Finally, after you register and purchase your domain, you may start getting a lot of spam emails. You'll get emails offering to put you in the top search engine placements, emails offering to help you fine-tune your keywords, and more. There are, however, some emails (and mail) that use some under-handed techniques to try to extort money from you by claiming to "help" you register your domain name if it is expiring. In general, you should handle your own domain registration unless you know of a reputable company that gets bulk registration rates. We've heard lots of horror stories of people who receive emails offering to renew their domain name registration and reply back to them, but the people who sent the email purchase the domain themselves and then try to make the original owners pay lots of money to get the domain back! Unfortunately, these days, it's not wise to immediately trust anyone who contacts you with a "deal." Do your research if you want to use their services... or do it yourself!

Next: Choose a Hosting Provider