The process seems easy enough: find a domain name you like and buy it from a registrar. Buying a domain name is much more than just finding a name. Your domain name is your brand. The registrar you choose can affect control of the domain, because registrars can seize your domain or make it difficult to get it back if you forget to renew it. The good news is that domain names are generally cheap. However, choosing the wrong name can hinder your success. Here are some tips to help you buy a domain name.
Your Name is Your Brand
A few years ago, people bought “branded” search phrases. For instance, if you wanted to sell carpets, you would buy a domain name like “buycarpets.com.” The goal was to buy a common search engine phrase and quickly rank, because search engines such as Google used a domain’s name to significantly increase a website’s rank. Google recently released an EMD (exact match domain) update that gave reduced importance to a domain’s name. The result was EMDs no longer ranked for a search phrase just because of a name. The EMD update focused more on a site’s content and quality, so you can come up with a clever name and still rank well.
Brand names are tricky. You want something easily remembered by visitors, but you also want to create something relevant to a search phrase. You can find websites that sell brand names including the domain and a logo to go with the domain. It’s a great option to get started if you have the money to buy a domain from a seller.
Sit down and write down names and ideas. Find clever ways to twist words into making a brand name that relates to your niche. Clever, short names are easily remembered by users, so you can not only rank well but make it easy for users to remember your name.
Choosing a Registrar
There are several registrars to choose from. You don’t need to buy a domain from the same place you host the site. As a matter of fact, it’s a disadvantage to use the same host as your registrar. If you lose your account at the host level, the host can also affect your domain registration. It’s better to keep your hosting provider and registrar separated, so a hosting issue doesn’t affect your domain ownership.
The registrar should also give you options to forward DNS. You’ll need this option to set up your website when you do choose a host. DNS is the system that keeps a list of domain names and associated IP addresses. Without proper DNS configurations, your site won’t work.
You also want a registrar that reserves your name for at least 30 days if you forget to renew your name. Most registrars have an auto-renew option where it charges your credit card automatically, so you never lose your domain name. However, if your credit card expires, the name goes into a pool of expired domains where anyone can purchase it. You lose the domain if you forget to renew it, but some registrars give you a 30-day grace period and even send emails as the official renewal day gets closer. Other registrars immediately seize the domain, which means you lose your brand name.
Choosing a Host
There are plenty of popular hosts, but you should choose a host that offers the support and features you need for your website. Shared hosting is cheap. However, your site performance is at the mercy of other site owners who share your server.
Your hosting control panel should allow you to easily upload files, keep your account secure, let you easily control website configurations and offer everything you need to run a successful site. If you have a dynamic site, you need access to a database. Make sure your host offers database access with your account.
Your host should give you plenty of support especially if you’re new to website management. Some of the popular web hosts have so many customers that they provide poor support. However, smaller hosting companies don’t have the hardware and bandwidth to support a busy site. The best host is somewhere in between a busy, unsupportive host and a small, low-quality host.
Once you’ve got your brand name and your website host, you need to start website development. Web development is the exciting part whether you hire a developer or install pre-packaged software. The best sites use a unique layout, which is only available when you hire a developer. However, the free website software is hard to resist. Just don’t skimp when it comes to a professional look and interface for your users.
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