You’ve got a great idea for a website, and now it’s time to buy a domain name.
But where do you even start? What if someone else owns the domain name you want?
In this post, we’re going to cover how to buy a domain that represents you well and register it in your name.
Your domain name is your identity.
Having a catchy, relevant DNS will dictate your website traffic. It’ll be nearly impossible for customers to find your site if the site name is confusing or hard to spell. So before you waste your money on an ineffective domain name, put some serious thought into it first.
Here are some important factors to consider before you register your domain name.
Research your niche and make your domain name a set of relevant keywords if possible.
If this website is for your business, you probably already put a lot of this type of research into choosing your company name. Your domain name is no different.
In fact, using strong keywords in your domain name is one of the best ways to improve your site’s search engine optimization. So make sure your domain name contains the words your ideal customer/reader/client will be searching for on Google.
To make your site name memorable, stick to the K.I.S.S. method: Keep It Short (and) Simple. Pick a site name that flows off the tongue. Keep it to about 15 characters, not including the .com suffix.
Make sure it’s easy to spell and helps people remember what your website is for. That means avoiding hyphens, numbers, underscores, and other confusing characters.
User intent is key here. It doesn’t matter if your website name is easy for you to remember–the priority is helping a complete stranger understand what your site is for right away. Ideally, someone should be able to predict your site name if they forget it.
Sites ending with .com are by far the most popular and common. Make sure to get a .com suffix for your site if possible, since most people will assume your site ends with this anyway.
There are only a few exceptions where .com may not be the best choice. For example, if you’re starting your own non-profit organization it may be a better idea to use .org instead. This reinforces your identity as a community organization rather than a for-profit company.
If your ideal audience is specific to a certain country, consider using domain extensions (TLDs) local to that country:
Ireland = .ie
Germany = .de
Australia = .au
United Kingdom = .uk
Once you’ve worked on your site name for a while, ask friends what they think.
Is the name predictable enough for them to remember? Can they spell it correctly the first time without any help? What does the name remind them of?
Getting a variety of opinions will help you anticipate what strangers on the internet might have to say about your site before you spend the money on a domain. Take your time with this step.
Should you find yourself stuck or out of ideas, you can use a domain name generator.
This can be a good way to find an effective domain name fast. You don’t even have to use the name the generator suggests. The names you get from a domain name generator can be the starting point that helps you find a name you really like.
Now that you’ve found an effective domain name that you know gets the point of your project across, you’re ready to buy it.
Hmmm, not quite.
…you need to make sure it’s not already taken.
Worse yet, there could be another business out there that has a very similar name and a reputation you don’t want to be associated with.
Use a domain checker like this one to make sure your ideal DNS isn’t already claimed by someone else.
If the name you want is currently in use by an active business, you’ll have to go back to the drawing board. But if the name is owned by someone who is not actively running a site, don’t fret.
You can buy domain names that are already claimed if the owner is willing to negotiate. It’s a pretty common transaction. But we’ll talk more about that later.
Buying a domain is a long-term investment.
Before you go to the trouble of buying a domain, ask yourself: Is this name still going to be relevant several years from now? Does this name accurately reflect where I want my project to go in the future?
Think outside the box, and make sure your site name isn’t based on a trend that won’t be here next year.
There are several ways you can comb the web for any content already attached to the DNS you want:
Wayback Machine – This tool will show you any past traffic attached to a domain name even if that site no longer exists. If someone ran a popular site using the name you want back in 2006, Wayback Machine will show you that. You’ll even get to see screenshots of what that site looked like when it was active.
who.is – This is how you check the current owner and status of a domain you want. The free results from who.is will show you who currently owns your dream domain. And if you pay $10 you can see the complete history of that domain, including all previous owners and data associated with it.
If you accidentally type “amzn.com” in your address bar, you’re still directed to Amazon.com’s homepage.
Why is that? Because Amazon did the smart thing and purchased as many similar domain names as possible when they registered the DNS amazon.com.
Registering as many misspellings of your site name as possible is a great way to ensure traffic to your site. You don’t have to do this step, and sometimes it’s not cost-effective to do so. But it will certainly help people find you when they inevitably make a typo.
Make sure you claim all the social media handles you’ll need separate from your main website.
That means opening accounts on Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. with the name you want before anyone else can.
The short answer: it depends.
Several factors will impact the price of your domain…
It all adds up in the long run.
Instead of looking up a registrar, you can also buy a domain name through the same company you use to build your website.
Many web hosting companies offer this service to save you time and make it easier for you to start building your site right away. A word of caution: not all web hosting companies actually register the domain in your name.
When you buy a domain name through a web hosting service like GoDaddy or Squarespace, read the fine print. Make sure it’s actually you who will have rights to the domain, and not the web hosting business. This way, if you choose to change web hosting services you can take your domain name with you.
If your dream domain name is already owned by someone else, you can ask to buy it from the current owner.
(This only works if the domain you want isn’t currently used by another business of course.)
There are people who actually make a part-time income by buying and selling domain names for a profit, or “domain flipping.” There are over 186 million registered domain names that aren’t being used for anything. That’s because savvy domain flippers know business owners will pay good money to buy the rights to the perfect domain name.
Should you find yourself stuck on a domain name that someone else has already registered, it’ll be up to you to contact the owner and start negotiating. Be sure to check the fair price of your domain using sites like Estibot, Website Outlook, or BuyDomains.
Now that you know how to buy a domain, you deserve the best web hosting in Ireland.
Whether you’re a large or small business our Host.ie hosting platforms are fully scalable to fit your needs. We provide you with all of the tools necessary to build and maintain your website.
Contact us today to get started.