Learning how to buy a domain name is an important part of launching your website. A relevant, memorable domain can drive traffic to your site and help build your brand.
We’ve put together this guide to explain everything you need to know about buying a domain name. We’ll cover how to craft a memorable domain, where to purchase it, how to connect it to your site, and what to do if the perfect domain is already owned by someone else.
- A domain name is a memorable address that visitors can enter in their browser to reach your website.
- When choosing a domain name, you should ensure it’s unique, short, and describes your brand. You also need to check that it’s available with the extension you want, such as “.com” or “.org.”
- You can purchase your domain from a web host or domain registrar for a period of up to ten years. Make sure to activate auto-renew so your domain registration doesn’t lapse.
- A domain name typically costs $10 to $20 per year, although specialty domain names can cost much more.
How Does a Domain Name Work?
Behind the scenes, domain names are shortcuts to a website’s IP address. When a visitor types a domain name into their browser, the domain name is mapped to the website’s IP address, and your browser takes you to the address.
Domain names are a lot easier to remember than IP addresses. For example, it’s easier to remember “google.com” than Google’s numeric IP address, 18.104.22.168.
How to Choose a Domain Name
Choosing a domain name is one of the most important decisions you’ll make when setting up a new website. Your domain name is how customers will remember your site, and it’s an important part of your overall brand identity.
There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a domain name.
The most popular top-level domain by some way is “.com,” short for “commercial.” Internet users expect most sites to have a “.com” extension, so this is a good choice for any personal or business website. Other common domain extensions include “.org,” “.net,” “.xyz,” “.io,” and “.co.”
There are dozens of other top-level domains available, including options like “.shop,” “.world,” “.live,” and more. However, these extensions aren’t as commonly used, and it may be difficult for visitors to remember them. You may want to avoid them unless they fit with your brand.
Tips for Picking a Domain Name
The hard work of choosing a domain name comes when deciding what should precede your extension. Here are a few tips:
- Your domain name should reflect your brand and be memorable. If your business has a unique name, consider using that as the domain name for your site.
- Avoid generic domain names that could apply to any site or any business in your industry.
- Keep your domain name as short as possible – under 15 characters is preferable. Avoid numbers and special symbols.
- Make sure your domain name is easy to understand and spell. It’s a good idea to say your potential domain name to a friend and ask them to spell what they heard.
How to Check if Your Domain Name Is Available
Once you’ve decided on a name and a domain extension, check whether it’s available. Most registrars, including GoDaddy, Namecheap, Name.com, and Domain.com, allow you to search for domains at no cost. Website builders like Wix and Squarespace, which offer domain names, also let you search for domains.
You may find your preferred domain is already taken. In that case, consider picking an alternative top-level domain or slightly tweaking your name.
If you choose a different domain extension, be sure to check if there is a website using your name and a “.com” extension, as customers are likely to land there by accident. If it’s a competitor’s site or a website with offensive content, you may want to choose a different domain name altogether.
Alternatively, you can try to purchase your preferred name from its current owner. We’ll cover how to do that in more detail below.
How Much Does a Domain Name Cost?
You can typically purchase a domain name for $10 to $20 per year. You may be able to get a domain name with a less popular top-level domain, such as “.world,” for less than $5 per year.
Many web hosts and registrars also have attractive introductory offers. If you purchase hosting, for example, you may get a free domain for a year. Many registrars charge less than $1 for your first year of registration before increasing the price.
Popular domain names can be more expensive, however. For example, the domain name “shopping.store” costs $6,500 per year on GoDaddy as it’s considered a premium domain. The domain “shopping.online” costs $16,250 per year.
What To Do If Your Domain Is Already Taken
If your perfect domain name has already been taken, there’s still hope. You may be able to buy the domain directly from its current owner. This requires negotiation and can get expensive. You should be prepared to pay a premium for a domain that’s already taken.
To get started, you first need to determine who owns the domain using the ICANN database or information on the website associated with the domain. You can then reach out directly with an offer, or you can hire a broker like Sedo or Name Experts to mediate a deal.
Always use an escrow service to pay for a domain you purchase through negotiation, as it’s risky to send funds directly to someone on the internet.
Transferring Your Domain Name
You can also transfer your domain name to a different domain registrar if you want. You might do this if another registrar offers better pricing or because a website builder you’re using enables you to host your website and domain on the same platform.
Most registrars will transfer your domain for free. However, you typically won’t receive a refund from your current registrar if you transfer your domain before your plan is up. See our guide more advice on how to migrate a website.
Summary – How to Buy a Domain Name
Choosing the right domain name is essential for driving traffic to your website. It’s important to choose a domain that’s memorable, easy to type, and descriptive of your brand. Once you pick out a domain and confirm its availability, you can purchase it from a registrar and connect it to your website.
Check out our guide to the best website hosting to get started building your site today.