Domain names are your address on the Internet
ML2 Solutions is a digital marketing agency helping businesses with website development, business listings, paid advertising, conversion rate optimization and reputation management. Our goal is to find the best solutions to your needs to help you get more customers.
Background on Domain Names
Domain names have been around since the beginning of the Internet but became popular once the World Wide Web and the Internet browsers changed everyone’s life. We take them for granted now but when you are setting up your Internet presence, a domain name is your starting point. A domain name, to use an analogy, is like your mailing address of name, street, state and zip all in one term. Also, like a mailing address, it is unique and only one can exist.
There are few parts to a domain name. Let’s look at an example of https://www.companyname.com. The https:// is the part that tells a web browser what protocol use and really not part of your domain name but you will see it. If you don’t enter it, a web browser will for you. The “www” is called a “sub-domain”. This related back to the early days of the World Wide Web (see the www acronym) when there were other services on the Internet but today, the Internet is basically the web in people’s mind. The “com” is called a Top-Level Domain or TLD. These are used to categorize different addresses on the Internet and may refere to a category or country. The most common is “com” which is short for commercial. It was one of the original Top-Level Domains and since related to business became popular.
Picking a Domain Name
A domain name is easy to pick. You just think of a word or group of words. There are a few limitations that only letter, numbers and the hyphen can be used. They are case-insensitive. You then pick a Top-Level Domain to add to the end. Unfortunately, it is much harder because a domain name must be unique and domain names have been used since the 1980s and hundreds of millions have been taken already. So, the real challenge is going to be finding one. There are a couple of methods.
The first method is getting lucky and finding a domain name that no one has already taken. It is possible but not without some compromises. Part of the problem is that people purchase un-used domain names and try to sell them for a higher price. There is nothing illegal about this practice but does make it harder to find the name you really want. The second method is purchasing a domain name that is already taken. There are services to help with the process like Domain Agents. Their service is reasonable priced and might be worth a try.
The best method is finding an available domain name and purchasing it. Here are several websites that can help with the search and also recommending alternatives.
So, if you first choice isn’t available. Here are some tips to brainstorming an alternative domain name.
- We recommend going with a “.com” domain name but there are hundreds of different options now available. If you can find one that fits your business industry, it may be a good fit.
- However, if the “.com” one is being used actively by a similar business, it may confuse your clients.
- Avoid numbers in your domain name as it might cause confusion between the number “2” and the word “two”.
- I know. I didn’t follow my own advice but I purchased the domain name a long time ago! 😉
- Hyphen might help but do make it harder to say your website domain name like company-name.com. Try saying it out loud first.
- Try to combine two or three words together. Change up the order.
- Be careful about making the domain name too long. Combining three words that are each 10 characters will make a 30 character long domain name which is a lot to type.
- If you already have an established business name and have been using it for years, try to find something that is close. You might be able to add a prefix or suffix to your business name and find an available name.
In the end, picking a domain name if your first choice is already taken is just a brainstorming and time exercise.
Registering a Domain Name
Now that you have picked a domain name that is available, it is time to purchase it by registering it at a registrar. A registrar is simply a company that can sell domain names. Here is a list of several companies you can use.
We recommend Hover. Hover just does domain name and doesn’t also host websites. They also don’t try to upsell you on their other products. Hover includes private registration so your personal information isn’t shared and they don’t charge for this service. They don’t have the cheapest initial cost but their renewals fees are very competitive.
We also recommend not registering your domain name at the same company you host your website. This makes it harder to move your website to a different web hosting company if you need to in the future.
Domain Name Summary
To summarize, a domain name is your address on the Internet. You need to pick a domain name that is available and then register it. Once you have your domain name, you can associate it with a web hosting account and continue your progress of setting up a website.