April 19th, 2021
Things to Consider when Buying a Domain Name
When you’re choosing a name for your company, you’ll always be advised to keep it short, snappy, memorable and easy to spell. Each of these rules apply equally to the creation of a domain name, if not with more urgency. However, putting aside the process of constructing a quality name, there are numerous pitfalls to avoid when buying a domain. If you’re setting up a website (whether for yourself or for a client) and aren’t experienced in doing so, the following sections should prove highly valuable to you.
Before we begin, I’ll give a brief overview of what a domain name is. Once your website is created, people are going to need a way of finding it – just as you need an address to find a location. The “address” for your website is a random assortment of numbers known as an “IP address” and your domain name is the translation of your IP address into words, characters and potentially numbers, commonly known as a “URL”.
The Ideal Domain Name
To start with, let’s go over some of the more vital rules for making a healthy, effective domain name which should prove advantageous for your site and/or your business. For one, ensure that your name is simple, straightforward and as uncomplicated as it can possibly be. If this is done correctly, people should have no problem memorizing your domain name – which in turn, can be incredibly useful for spreading awareness of your site via word of mouth. Speaking of verbal communication, if somebody tells their friend about your website, you need to make sure they know how to spell your domain name just by hearing it. This can be done by avoiding words that are difficult to spell, have multiple spellings and by avoiding the use of hyphens. Additionally, you should aim for ten or fewer characters.
Needless to say, the world wide web is an enormous place – to say the least. As of July 2020, approximately 4.57 billion people were active on the internet and there are roughly 350 million registered domain names out there. This adds some particularly tricky hurdles to the process of creating a domain name and many times, people will carefully form their ideal name, only to find out that it’s been taken. Using hyphens and workaround spellings can be sure-fire methods of overcoming these hurdles, but bear in mind that – as inferred in the previous segment – your website isn’t going to grow anywhere nearly as organically when you sacrifice the simplicity of your domain name.
Despite the harsh reality that your perfect domain name is likely taken and no workarounds are worth executing, you could be in luck. All domains are registered publicly to the WHOISdirectory, meaning you can search for a domain name and instantly find the necessary data needed to identify the owner of a domain (the difficulty of this may vary depending on the owner’s privacy). Now, if you’re lucky enough, the current owner may not hold the domain name too dearly and could be willing to negotiate a deal with you. There is however such a thing as domain squatting – the act of buying a domain name with the intention to resell it for a higher price. If a squatter owns your domain and asks for a moderate price, it may be worth conceding; if they ask for an extortionate price, which they likely will, there is a US Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act which depending on your situation, could fight your corner.
A better domain name will lower your lifetime marketing costs
Buying a Domain from Registrars
A registrar is a company that deals in the reservations of domain names. Naturally, it’s always best to stick to the big fish such as GoDaddy, BlueHost and HostPapa. If you do wish to use a lesser-known registrar, there are a few things to be cautious of.
First of all, read the Terms of Service as thoroughly as you can. Chances are, you’ll find some questionable obligations or fees which, needless to say, is a, sure enough, sign that you should look elsewhere. One thing to look out for is a Transfer Out fee. These are fees which come into play once you decide to transfer from one registrar to another, a process that should come at no cost with your current (soon to be former) registrar. These fees are a breach of ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) policy and can provide grounds to take legal action. Similarly, if you wish to edit your WHOIS records, which you’re free to do, some registrars will charge you an “administration fee” – another unjust fee which should also be ushering you straight to another registrar (with no transfer fees attached). You should also make sure the renewal fees aren’t exorbitant. Registrars will sometimes charge cheap/average fees for buying a domain and inflate said fee when it’s time for renewal.
Make sure you find a registrar that values privacy. Some will offer privacy protection for free, some will charge a premium and some may not offer it at all. Unless you want to be frequently contacted by third parties offering needless web hosting services, you’re going to want privacy protection, and it should be free (for more information on web hosting). Also, be wary of registrars who enter their details into the WHOIS (or other) directories as they will have ownership of your domain. Furthermore, it isn’t unheard of for registrars to sell your data to marketing agencies. Find a registrar who guarantees never to sell or misuse your data.
Finally, a simple mistake that can have horrendous consequences for you and your website is to purchase your domain name under an email which you won’t have access to when renewal time comes around. Your registrar will send you an email offering renewal and if you don’t receive that email, your website will cease to exist and chances are, your domain name will be bought by somebody else, possibly a squatter.
Hopefully, from what you’ve read, you’ve been made aware of some of the pitfalls that aren’t immediately obvious for first-time domain buyers. Luckily, the best way of avoiding these hazards is to thoroughly read the terms of what you’re signing up to. Briefly search the fees you’ll be paying and make sure they’re legitimate and justified. Additionally, for the sake of your branding (if of course, you’re a business owner), be as creative and as market savvy as you can be and hopefully, you’ll obtain the perfect domain name for you and your business.