The first step in registering a domain name is to find one that is available. This article is the second in a series about setting up email and web hosting for a business. The first article explains terminology like domain names and domain registrars. This article provides you with some guidance on researching the availability of a desired domain name and registering it.
Let’s imagine that you’re starting a new business and want to register the domain name fullymac.com. To determine if this domain name is available I like to use the WhoIs web site. At the time of this writing, a search for fullymac.com at WhoIs shows that this domain name is available. You could perform this search at many other web sites, but I like WhoIs’ simple and easy-to-read listing of the results. It indicates clearly if a domain name is available or not. It also indicates if other versions of the domain name are available, in case you’d like to buy (register) one of them as well. For example, you’ll see that fullymac.org, fullymac.net, fullymac.biz and many other versions are also available.
It can be difficult to find a domain name that is available. In 2003, I wanted to register soundsupport.com for my own business, but found that somebody else was squatting on this domain name. The name was and continues to be for sale, but I didn’t want to play that game. Instead, I picked the less well known .biz domain and never looked back. People still occasionally comment “Oh, I’ve never heard of dot biz,” but it’s never been an impediment. Everybody seems to want a .com domain name. It’s possible to do this, but you might have to be creative with your name since .com is so popular. One way to find a .com domain name that is available is to add your city name. For example, some clients have chosen to add Seattle to their domain name, such as fullymacseattle.com or seattlefullymac.com.
I typically recommend that you try to keep your domain name as short as possible and avoid hyphens. Remember you’ll need to print your domain name on a business card, so you don’t want it to be too long. More importantly, visitors to your web site will often need to type your domain name. Hyphens can lead to confusion since visitors may not always remember to type the hyphen.
Once you’ve found a domain name you want to register, you’ll need to pick a domain registrar. As I mentioned in my first article, GoDaddy and Network Solutions are two of the best known domain name registrars. They have their fans, but there are other options. I tend to avoid both of them for a number of reasons. Briefly, Network Solutions charges higher than average prices and they always try to entice you to buy additional features and services that you most likely don’t need. GoDaddy also tries to bundle extra services at every turn and I think they have the single-most confusing web site on the planet. I also don’t like their sexist advertising either. As a consequence, I recommend Hover.com. I have not done exhaustive research, but I use Hover.com and have been pleased with them. Their web site is easy to navigate, and while their prices are not the lowest, they are reasonable. I’ve found their support articles well-written. They even have specific articles about how to transfer your domain registration from GoDaddy to Hover if you ever need to do this.
I should elaborate on pricing. You’ll find wide-ranging prices for domain names. For example, WhoIs lists the price for fullymac.com as $10.99. Hover charges $15 and Network Solutions charges $35. Network Solutions, however, doesn’t show this price up-front. First, you have to add the domain name to your cart, wade through 3 offers for extra services and finally they show you the price for a 5 year registration. Their price for a 5 year registration drops to only $23 per year! What a bargain. (That’s tech sarcasm.)
If you choose to register your domain name at Hover, visit their web site and enter your desired name in their prominent search field. Then, add the domain name to your cart and check out. You’ll be required to create an account and pay using your credit card or PayPal. It’s a straight-forward process that can be finished in 10 minutes or so. If you want to use Hover to register your domain name, please consider using this link so that I’ll get a referral bonus, which I would appreciate.
I hope this article has helped you to find a domain name that is suitable for your needs and available, and that you went ahead and registered it. In our next article, we’ll look at how to select a web and email hosting company.