Getting a Domain Name: An Overview

Starting and maintaining a website

Starting and maintaining a website

Starting and maintaining a website can be an overwhelming endeavor. There are so many things to manage—the design, the presentation, the message, the goals—that it’s incredibly easy to overlook one of the most important things of all.

The name, of course.

That would be the domain name, to be specific. Finding the right one is a journey of sorts for most people, so let’s take a look at what’s involved and examine all the factors that play into the pivotal decisions.

The TLD Extension

This is the first part of finding a great domain name that overwhelms people. There are so many top-level domain extensions (TLDs) that just perusing a list of them can feel like getting lost in an alphabet forest.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. The best way to simplify the TLD choice is to go with dot-com, i.e., .com.

Why? Because .com is the extension with which most people are the most familiar, and familiarity is an important goal if you’re starting your own site and you don’t already have some notoriety, or at the very least a product or service that makes you stand out.

You should also know what some of the other ones are, though—.biz stands for business, .co is about a company, .edu is a school, and .shop or .blog are self-explanatory.

Make sure you access a complete list of these just to make sure they don’t fit your situation better, then shift accordingly if they do.

As you do, keep in mind that there are situations where you don’t want to go for a .com, however. If what you’re doing on your site is specialized to a significant degree, that’s when you need to consider going with an extension that emphasizes your niche or geography.

The simplest example would be something like .de for a blog built to address a German market, but there are obviously dozens of other examples. If you’re daring or you have a good reason to be experimental, be aware that you can try some of the more unusual ones.

Search for your perfect domain name

Other TLD Issues

There are a couple of other issues that can come up with TLDs that you should know about as you go about getting your domain name.

One is that if you’re really serious about making a successful go with your website, you should consider buying up at least some of the TLDs with names that are close to yours

The reason for this is simple. Many people specialize in buying TLDs that are close to yours if you’re either popular or successful. In some instances, they actually make a living by reselling these related names for a profit.

A related issue can occur if the domain name you’ve chosen is already in use. This can happen if the name is fairly common, or if someone else has bought it in advance to engineer a resale.

Dealing with this requires some strategizing. If you want the name badly enough and you have the budget, you can make an offer for it.

If you’re going to do this, though, you should also have a couple of slight variations ready so you can walk away from any exorbitant demands without any second thoughts.

Search for your perfect domain name

Branding and Recognition

This is another area that tends to overwhelm domain seekers, but it can be simplified with a basic question: What is it that makes a domain name brandable?

There are several common-sense factors that come into play when you go to answer that question. The first is that you need to make it unique, and easy to memorize and pronounce (i.e., think Google, Netflix, etc.). Also, it should sound trustworthy in a way that’s not overtly commercial.

Random suffixes are one way to do this, but another thing to consider is that the name should be fun to say aloud. Short and snappy is good, too, and you can use a thesaurus or thesaurus sites to give you some wordplay possibilities.

You can also use a domain name generator if you want to consider a larger number of possibilities, and a simple search will reveal that there are plenty of those you can use.

Above all, though, make sure that whatever domain name you choose fits you, what you’re doing and what your goals are with the site.

Search for your perfect domain name

The Legal Side

One of the things that can quickly get people in hot water when they choose a domain name is taking the wrong approach to being recognizable.

It’s all well and good to think you can have the word “google” embedded in your domain name, but if you do this you may quickly become familiar with another word that you’d rather not encounter—“infringement.”

If you’re buying your domain name, there are other possible legal issues you need to know about. They can be accounted for with a quick series of double-checks, but make sure you don’t skip this step.

To wit: the most basic way to validate your domain name as legit is to go to Google and do the following search:

That will tell you if your site is indexed, which is something you need to know to account for the visibility factor. There are other tools like you can use to save yourself search-engine aggravation.

Also, there’s another site called Wayback Machine that will give you a history of whatever domain you’re buying to find out if it has a problematic or questionable history.

Search for your perfect domain name

Final Issues

One of the things to remember when you choose your domain name is that it has to be correlated with your other social media accounts. Make sure your handle on these accounts mirrors your domain name, as this will give you more flexibility when you go to advertise and increase your visibility.

Finally, it’s important to pick the right domain registrar, so do some shopping when you make this selection. Consider an established company like Nexus, which is one of the best in the industry, and you can also look around for specific discounts as well.

Once you have the name, lock it in so it can’t be stolen, and make sure you keep your registrar’s user panel secure. Register your domain name, and consider using an ID protection service. Set it up to auto-renew so it won’t accidentally expire on you, and once you’re done with that you should be finished when it comes to all the essential steps.

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