Part 10: How To Choose and Register the Right Domain
Please read this section about domain names and the next section on hosting before making any decisions. If you have decided to have your own website rather than build one on the free services, then you will need to buy a domain name. This is easily recognised as something like www.google.co.uk or www.amazon.co.uk.
The www element stands for “World Wide Web” and is standard on every domain. The .co.uk element shows that it is a website based in the UK. So if you are building a website for the UK market, then the only part that you have to decide on is what goes in the middle?
Before you make your decision on that I wanted to point out the reasons why you should consider getting your own domain. Some bloggers when starting out decide to build their website/blog on one of the free services such as Blogger or Weebly.
Let us assume that your website was going to be about bass fishing. If you went with a free blog then your domain name would look something like www.bassfishing.blogspot.co.uk or www.bassfishing.weebly.com. Now as you can see these are not as attractive or as easy to remember as www.bassfishing.co.uk.
The main advantage though is that if you go with the free options then they dictate the rules of what you can and can not write about. In addition to that they can also tell you what adverts you can and can not display.
The other risk is that should the owners of these free blogs decide to take them down, then all of your efforts have been lost. A company called Squidoo who offered free websites like these was sold to another free website called Hubpages and many thousands of writers either had to lose their work or transfer it over.
With your own domain that will never happen as you own it. Another huge advantage is that should you decide to sell your website in a few years time, then you clearly would have to own the domain name. You could never sell a website built with a free service as you do not own it.
The bottom line is that having your own domain name gives you credibility.
Choose the right domain name
There are two trains of though on what your domain should be. Some webmasters want a domain name that has a strong SEO element to it, and others recommend a Branded domain. So what is the difference in the two?
SEO optimised domain
In this case study I could have had the choice of a few different domains. My website is about coffee grinders. So I could have tried to get coffeegrinders.co.uk or coffeegrinder.co.uk. Someone has bought those already and is trying to sell those for a premium.
I could also have tried for coffeegrinderreview.co.uk or coffeegrinderreviews.co.uk and both are available. That type of domain is knwn as an SEO styled domain as the domain contains the keywords in the URL.
Brand Domain Name
Now personally I think they are rather long winded, but they also limit the potential growth of my website. If I wanted to say include coffee percolators or filter coffee then it does not naturally link in with the SEO style of domain name.
I prefer the branded type and having used both, I have found that it really makes no difference as to which you select. You will need to pick a domain name for your website that ends with a .co.uk extension.
You really can go with either the SEO style of domain or a branded domain and in my case study I have opted for a branded style. I like the sound of www.theperfectgrind.co.uk
Avoid long domain names as they are difficult to remember. This domain name represents your website on the Internet so try to make it short and memorable. Try to aim for something like 2 or 3 words.
Avoid this type of domain name. This is where a person would by a classical domain name that could be spelt wrong. As an example www.goggle.co.uk or www.evay.com
They are trying to catch visitors who spell something wrong and bring visitors to their website. It truly is a waste of time.
Should You Use Hyphens in Your Domain Name?
It is a good question and again opinion is divided. I never do as they are just awkward to remember and also to type-in. People use these when the domain name without hyphens has been taken. Now there is an argument that having a hyphenated domain name is better for the search engines.
Again I have found that the actual domain name is not that important. Something that represents what your website is about is all that I look for, and I try to keep it short and sweet.
Buying A Domain Name
Once you see that the domain is available, buy it immediately. It may be available now, but not a few seconds later. Never assume that the name will be around at some future date when you figure out what to do with that domain name.
To buy a domain name you need to register the name you want with an organisation called ICANN through a domain name registrar. That means you have to pay a registration fee that costs around £7 for that name. That will give you the right to the name for a year, and you will have to renew it annually for approximately the same amount every year.
When you are buying your hosting, some web hosts will register it and pay for the name for free while others will do it for you but you’ll have to pay the registrar fees.
My personal preference is to register the name directly with a domain name registrar rather than through my web host. I just like to know that it is under my control and if I move hosting companies, then I control my domain name. For me being the owner is vital.
Step By Step Instructions
If you want to register a domain name, here’s what you need to do. Please read it all before making your purchase.
Think of a few good domain names that you’d like to use. Don’t just come up with one as it might already be taken so make a short list.
Paypal or Credit Card
You will need either a credit card or a PayPal account to pay for the domain. This is a requirement of most if not all registrars. It will allow you to claim and get the domain name immediately on application. This is not an option.
List of Domain Name Registrars
There are numerous domain name registrars. I have listed a few below:
World’s Largest Registrar – GoDaddy.com – This extremely popular registrar (probably the biggest today) offers .co.uk domain names. They have a web interface to manage your domains. Both credit card and PayPal payments are accepted.
Namecheap – This company provides .co.uk domains. You can use either a credit card or PayPal for your purchases.
1&1 Internet – This is primarily a large web host but are also a domain name registrar. They offer.co.uk names. Both credit card and PayPal payments are accepted by this registrar.
Set Up An Account
If you don’t already have an account with a domain provider you will need to set one up so as you can buy your domain name. It is a very straight forward process. After that you do a domain search to see if your domain name is free. If it is not then try another one from your list until you find one that you like.
I use Godaddy to buy my domains at uk.godaddy.com.
You can see this in the image below for my website:
So you type in your domain name as I have done above and it will tell you if it is available. Then they will try to offer you many other add ons to this such as business registration, website builder and hosting, email addresses etc.
I just buy the domain name as I like to host my websites with another hosting company. Now you can register this for a number of years ranging from 1 to 10 years. Almost always I opt for a 2-year registration. Prices and offers change all the time and I find that 2 years gives me the best value. It also means that if your website does not earn you what you hoped it would, it is only a small 2-year commitment.
All you need to do then is place your order and you own the domain name. You will receive an email with all of the details that you need to manage your domain.
I bought my domain name and for 2 years it cost £7.99 which I think is good value. Prices do change so you need to check on the day.
Many new people are reluctant to take this step as this is the first step in the technical process. I know when I first started out I was reluctant to do this as it all seemed very legal and also quite technical. It is actually quite a simple thing to do and if you want to own and build a good quality website, then it needs to get done.
Pick a domain name that you like and try to make it short and easy to remember. Come up with a short list of names that you like. Then decide who you want to purchase it from and buy it. Any of the three providers offer a good service.
Look out for coupon codes as often they can get you some discounts for your domain name purchase. You can type something like “Godaddy coupon codes” into Google and see if there are any.
Personally I don’t bother as £8 for 2 years is a tiny investment in your online business.