From the SEO, webmaster and small business owner points of view, below are a few considerations that I look at when registering a domain name. I hope these tips help you to make the best decision for your business. If you are stuck please be sure to ask us for more details.
Number 1: Choose one of the best registrars on the internet
There are a number of service providers who will offer to register the domain for you. The problem being, these service providers are often not an actual ICANN approved registrar. This especially holds true for bundled domain and hosting packages. This will make it difficult to move your domain when you change hosting providers and prevent you from doing advanced configurations as you grow.
Here is a list of accredited registrars. The top two on the list I recommend are GoDaddy and Google. GoDaddy is the best place to buy a domain name because they are cheap, make it easy to sign up, offer reseller opportunities and also offer a way to purchase expiring domains (if you are in to that).
WARNING: If you don’t choose a registrar, and decide to bundle the website domain in with your yearly hosting subscription, be prepared to face difficulties in transferring your domain when you want to grow.
Number 2: Register the website domain name for 3-5 years
If you have made the choice to start a business, register the domain for the foreseeable future. First time registration is usually the lowest cost you will pay, and by registering for 3-5 years upfront at that rate you will save money in the long run. It will also spare you the annual hassle of having to renew the domain and updating your credit card information when it changes.
Number 3: Say Yes to Domain Privacy Protection
The WHOIS database was once much, much more accessible. Still today if you register a domain any information you provide such as telephone, address, email and name will be publicly visible by default. By paying the additional privacy protection fee the registrar will hide your information. This prevents a high volume of spam emails, phone calls, snail mail, social engineering and phishing attacks.
Number 4: Set up your new domain as non-www instead of www
It wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized how great a strategy this is. I now set up every domain as non-www. If you have a brand new domain, most online tutorials will tell you to setup the DNS as:
However for a brand new campaign, the best long term option is:
With mobile as the future and because most users will be too lazy to type in the WWW, setting up your DNS without it will cut down on redirects and reduce page load time on direct traffic.
Number 5: Create a very secure password and save it somewhere you will not lose
There are some horror stories about people stealing passwords and hijacking domains for ransom. Many of these are phishing and social engineering hacks. It looks pretty ugly. I’ve also lost passwords and went through the trouble of snail mailing a photocopy of my driver’s license to the registrar to get it recovered. The company refused to communicate by email or phone and insisted it be mailed to them. They were in New Zealand and it was a painstaking process.
Number 6: Don’t try to register an SEO keyword domain
Yes, you should choose a domain that is catchy and descriptive. Or make sure that the domain name contains yourbusinessname.com. Buy you should avoid purchasing a spam domain like payday-loans-4you.com (available).
Your domain is your front door. Make sure it is something inviting, trustworthy, communicates the product, is short and will be something you want to own for the long term.
Number 7: Get an HTTPs Certificate
This can be done through the registrar and sometimes through your webhost. To utilize the benefits of the HTTPs certificate you will also need to build a website that accommodates SSL/TLS.
Number 8: Register 1 domain name for the site not 10 or 20
Do not go to the trouble of registering multiple domain names and misspellings. This is not where you need to put your budget at the early stages of building your online presence. When you start to become larger and people begin to feed off of your brand’s success, this will make sense.
Number 9: Get a few pages of the website set up today instead of waiting 6 months
Don’t end up sitting on the new domain for 6 months. At least set up a one-page website with your information today. Small steps are fine when growing. After purchasing the domain, at the very least start a one-page website with your contact details, a few images and a description of your business.
Number 10: Don’t spend too much
A domain name costs about $8-$30 dollars a year to purchase. Many of the common phrases are already taken or are selling for thousands of dollars. Depending upon how much money you have in your marketing budget, feel free to splurge. But as a small business owner, it is going to be the work you put into creating great content assets and branding your site online and offline that will be the real success story.
Number 11: Don’t Reinvent the wheel
If you are registering a domain name to start an online store, consider first existing marketplaces to build momentum. Ebay, Amazon, Etsy, are examples of great places to sell your product. Before shelling out the cash to start an online store, try building momentum at these existing marketplaces and then when you have that momentum expand into your own online store.
Need some help registering your domain and setting up a brand new website? Read these additional beginner tips.