If it’s your first time setting up a website, the various steps you must take prior to being able to make your site available to the world can be a bit daunting.
The first step is choosing a domain name – such as openeyemedia.net or chriskingphotography.com – and what follows are some of the key things you need to consider before purchasing your chosen domain name.
Choosing the right domain name.
There is a lot of competition out there, and when you do your initial search you may find your desired domain name has been taken. If that’s the case, you then need to figure out how you’re going to work around this.
For instance, do you go for a modified domain to get the extension you want – such as chriskingphotographer.com instead of chriskingphotography.com. Or a more extreme example is to go for something like thisisXYZ.com or weareXYZ.com because XYZ.com is not available.
Alternatively, do you stick with the exact name you want and choose an extension that’s available, but that might be a bit more niche? This is a decision only you can make, and ultimately there’s no right or wrong choice – you just have to make it work for you. That’s why I use openeyemedia.net and not openeyemedia.com, because when I was looking to register a domain for Open Eye Media the .com was already taken.
If you don’t already have a trading name or name for your project or campaign, then the process of finding out what’s available in the way of domain names can help inform your decision as to what name to settle for.
Choosing the right domain name extension.
There are over 1,500 domain extensions to choose from – known collectively as Top-Level Domains (TLDs). From the general and most widely known, such as .com or .org, to the niche – from .academy to .zone, you can choose one that fits your brand or campaign requirements.
Familiarity is one consideration, but more important is locality. Extensions such as .com and .org are international and will perform well globally, but if you know your audience is mostly based in a particular country, then there are benefits in buying a local extension such as .co.uk or .fr. Search engines will often prioritise results local to the person carrying out the search.
Beyond that it’s really about cost, as some of the niche extensions are more expensive, and your own branding.
Finding the best value for money.
As mentioned above, certain domains will cost more than others. So, if budget is a consideration, this might affect your choice. But it’s also worth shopping around. Some registrars will offer a discount on the first year, giving you time to establish yourself, before the full charge kicks in.
Some hosting companies also offer the first year free on certain domains as an enticement to get you to sign up for their services.
For most people’s circumstances there is no real benefit of engaging one registrar over another. So, the main factor is cost, but there is one other thing worth considering…
Protecting your privacy.
When you register your domain you will have to provide your details for the WHOIS database. This is a publicly accessible registry, and so everyone can see who owns the domain and their registered contact details. It can lead to a whole lot of spam emails and calls. The emails can be dealt with and filtered via your email software, but the calls are unavoidable.
The option to request your details to remain private used to be included in the cost of the domains, but some registrars use it as a potential revenue generator, and have started charging for the privilege.
It’s therefore worth finding out if privacy comes as default when registering your domain name, or you have to pay extra for it.
Protecting your brand.
Once you’ve settled on a domain name, then it’s a good idea to buy up available variations of it to ensure potential competitors can’t buy them and start competing with you for similar search results.
So, for instance, I’ve bought chriskingphotographer.com and chriskingphotography.com but only use the latter. You can point the other domains to your domain name of choice – so if anyone types in chriskingphotographer.com they will be taken to chriskingphotography.com
By considering all the above you should be confident you’ve made an informed decision about which domain name(s) to purchase, and ready to start considering where to host your website.
I don’t have any recommendations for domain registrars – but I will share that after using one registrar for the past 10-12 years, I’m now intending to transfer everything over to Cloudflare – they offer cost pricing on domains, which is fantastic. However, it doesn’t appear to be possible to make an initial purchase through them though, so you will have to look elsewhere to make an initial purchase.
If you would like support with the process of setting up your website, then get in touch.