With any new client looking for a website, one of the first priorities we always have is picking and choosing a domain. Based on your digital experience, you may already know all there is to know about domains, TLDs, DA and much more and if this is the case. This is not the article for you.
This article is for those who might understand some basic concepts of what domains are for but want a little more research before they choose one and want to prevent stress and save money!
What is a domain and why do I need one?
Your domain is a bit like your vehicle registration plate in the car scene, it's how other drivers (customers/competitors/clients) recognise you and it's how the authorities keep a track of you to make sure you're behaving (Search consoles - Google, Bing). It can include a country code so people know where you're based from. ( Country-specific TLD)
Having your own domain allows you to own your own emails like firstname.lastname@example.org instead of email@example.com and adds that important extra level of credibility to your business which your other local competitors may not have.
It's also important that you should buy and own your own domain, as should a business hosting your website go out of business or become unreachable, it'll be very hard to recover your domain. If you own your own domain on the other hand and the contact details are registered to you, then it'll be a simple matter to change web hosts.
When should I buy my domain
Believe it or not, it's better you check domain names before you even pick your business name. As it will give you an idea of how hard your website will be to find online. If all the most popular TLD's are already pre-bought for your business name, it's likely you'll find it harder to compete online for that vitally important 1st page ranking on Google.
So when should you actually buy your domain? As soon as you can to stop it being bought out by a competitor, so if you have an idea for a business that you're not quite ready to start yet, it's worth buying the domain and sitting on it so to speak for a few years whilst you get the capital to launch your business.
After all, domain names bought off domain registrars are quite cheap, domains bought off brokers - are definitely not cheap and can cost anything from £500+ to £3000+ for highly sought after names to unimaginable amounts for the very rare domain names.
Use Code COM88 to register your first domain for under a dollar
What is the difference between a domain and a website?
Your domain represents one or more IP addresses to identify your business on the internet, it's not practical or easy for users to remember the IP addresses of every website and thus domains were invented as 'nicknames' for users browsing the web to navigate it.
Your domain can point to any number of other websites or addresses by 'forwarding' the domain.
A website is on a website hosting server which is physical space for files to be hosted on, thus you can own a domain with no web hosting space and thus, no website.
What is the difference between a domain and a URL?
The URL bar in your browser shows you the exact address of a web page, it will include the domain name but also include other important navigation information so your browser can find the exact web page on the website.
Domain - Not the domain
Just getting started online?
At Creative Wavelength, we'll sort you out with a website & help you pick the best domain for a digital marketing plan that works. Just drop us a message in the form below if you're in need of professional design & development as well as all the information you need to kickstart your digital strategy.
What is a TLD?
A TLD is a 'top-level domain'
Traditionally these were separated into countries (.co.uk .fr etc), categories ( now known as generic top level domains like .gov .edu .com .net) You can learn more about how these are distinguished here
The TLD is used to distinguish what kind of website the domain is, this could be via country codes to let you know what location the business operates from
Some common TLDs and what they mean
- .com - stands for commercial and is the most popular business choice
- .CN , .UK - Country codes - in this example - United Kingdom and China
- .net - Intended for network websites
- .gov - Restricted for government use only and cannot be publically registered
- .biz - Made for businesses but rarely used compared to .com
- .me - Used for personal branding websites
TLD's can play a factor in SEO, for example with backlinks - it's very beneficial to have a .gov website linked to your website as its a very trustworthy source.
Without getting too complicated - *There is A LOT* of new TLD's being generated. Using NameCheap, I checked out what TLD choices were available for Creative Wavelength.
How many TLDs can I buy?
You can buy as many variations of your domain as are available and many companies will do this to ensure they have full control over their brand and future proofing by buying country TLD's they plan to move into. The only drawback is the cost - which is annual, some domain registrars allow you to buy multiple years in advance which can save you money longterm & provide some additional peace of mind.
What is the best TLD?
Whilst .com is still considered by many to be one of the best choices for professional credibility in business, country-specific domains can usually be a better decision for SEO purposes.
It's worth buying the country-specific domains of your brand for countries you are currently based in or are planning to open offices into, or even if it's just a region you heavily target for online sales!
My Domain choice isn't available
This is a common and fairly frustrating aspect of getting started online. As the internet is accessible to everyone, there is a fair chance your business idea or name has been used before or is registered by someone else. It's also fairly common for savvy investors buying up domains they think will catch on to sell on at near extortionate prices later. This is fairly common with celebrity names in particular.
You can try researching the domain to see if it's currently in use by someone - if so, you're usually out of luck as unless you're willing to buy that business over (very expensive) you're unlikely to be able to buy it off the owner. If the domain appears down, it can be worth checking the expiration date using WhoIs to see if it's expiring soon and thus able to be bought again.
If the domain is renewed it's likely it's either being kept for a future website or being kept by a domain broker to be sold on, which if this is the case - you may dig very deep in your pockets for it will not be cheap! Or consider other variations of your domain like including hyphens.
What to check before buying a domain from a broker
You should check if the domain has been added to any blacklists, the age of the domain and the current DA (domain authority) ranking. These can affect the pricing and you definitely don't want to buy a domain with a poor history or one that has been blacklisted.
3 Useful tips to read before buying your domain
- Consider the country you operate from, at minimum, it's usually good to buy the .com & the country specific TLD, if neither of these are available you could consider looking into niche TLD's that could be specific to your business. You can also consider different variations of your domain such as including hyphens where spaces would be
- Price around buying your domain from different registrars - though Namecheap.com is usually the most cost efficient. Cheap web servers are never good but cheap domains are absolutely fine!
- Remember it doesn't matter where your domain is registered, you can buy web hosting from a different company and point your domain to the web host, it will make no difference to performance or your ability to be found online, but it will often make a considerable difference to the cost.
Note - This article contains affiliation links with Namecheap.com - Creative Wavelength was not sponsored by Namecheap to write this article, we purely promote them as they are the cheapest and best option for just about every domain choice, though they are missing some TLD's. You may need to look at other websites for more specific TLD's such as .EU or .IE