How to Register a Domain Name: A Step-by-Step Guide
February 10th, 2017
Learning how to register a domain name is essential to owning a website.
In fact, it’s the very first step.
The name and other registration options you choose will either support the success of your website or hold it back it every single day.
Don’t worry, though.
Below, we’re going to show you exactly how to register a domain name and even explain other features you can choose for your site.
By the time you’re done, you’ll be ready to register a domain right away and begin enjoying the benefits of having your very own website.
What Is a Domain?
Before we jump into explaining how to register a domain name, let’s make sure everyone is on the same page.
Your domain is what someone types into their browser’s address bar to get to your site.
For this website, it is WebsiteSpot.com.
The domain is literally a web address. It’s the destination a web browser makes use of to ensure the user gets to their intended site.
You cannot have a website without a domain. While you could build a site and keep it on your own computer, no one else in the world will be able to get to it until there’s an address for a web browser to find.
How to Choose a Domain Name
When most people register a domain name, they need to do an easy domain name search. It's common to immediately pick the name of their business. This makes a lot of sense, of course.
However, the domain name of your site doesn’t necessarily need to be the exact same as the name of your business. Again, it’s just an address.
Some people actually pick domain names based on their SEO keywords. For example, a law firm may be called “Anderson and Sons,” but they know that people usually search for “Chicago law firm” when in need of their services.
Therefore, ChicagoLawFirm.com may give them higher rankings in Google. [Oh, and for the record, capital letters are ignored in domain names. We’re showing them this way for readability, rather than chicagolawfirm.com.]
Give some consideration to your future plans, too. At the moment, maybe all you do is repair computers. However, you know that someday down the road, you’d like to build them from scratch for customers, too.
Depending on your timeline, you may wish to choose “ChicagoComputerServices.com” instead of just “ChicagoComputerRepairs.com.” By the time you’re ready to make the change, the former may already be taken.
You can always register other domains and point them to your site later. Using multiple domains for one site is a fairly common practice. So even if you’re not building computers from scratch right now, you can buy a domain related to this service and it will be available when you’re ready.
As we just touched on, you need to be prepared for the reality that your first choice is already taken. Every year, countless companies find out that someone has already registered the domain name they wanted. After all, there are currently millions of domain names registered worldwide, and that number that grows significantly each year.
This can even happen when the domain is the same as your company’s name. Except for instances of copyright infringement, there’s nothing you can do (other than try to buy the domain name from the owner).
One way around this is to add the name of your service to the domain. For example, instead of AndersonAndSons.com, you might go with AndersonAndSonsLawFirm.
If that’s taken, you could get more specific and choose AndersonAndSonsCriminalDefense.com.
Also, as we explained, you might want to go with a completely different approach than using the actual name of your business.
You can opt for a different TLD, too. This is the very last section of the domain name, right after the second period. The most common one is “.com”, but others include:
Unless it’s already taken or the price is simply not within your budget, always opt for the “.com” extension. This TLD remains the most memorable.
You’d hate to have someone visit a competitor at LowFatMeals.com when they really meant to type in LowFatMeals.us. They might like what they see and not try again.
That being said, plenty of companies have been successful even without a .com in their domain name, so if yours is taken or otherwise out of reach, don’t despair.
Lastly, stay away from hyphens in your web domain. There’s no official Google rule condemning them, but over time they’ve become synonymous with spam sites.
Furthermore, hyphens can make it difficult for your potential or existing customers to remember your correct domain name.
Say your company buys and sells old houses, so you want a domain name that will reflect this. Unfortunately, that domain name “WeBuyOldHouses.com” is already taken. Instead, you use “We-Buy-Old-Houses.com.”
That may seem like a clever workaround, but what happens when one of your happy clients is telling their friends about your company? “It was great! I used this site called ‘We Buy Old Houses.’ You should check them out.”
Wouldn’t you worry that referrals like this will go to your non-hyphenated competitor instead?
With that, let’s now jump into our step-by-step guide showing you how to register a domain name. By the time you’re done, you’ll have completed the foundation for your very own website.
Step 1: Come Up with Your Domain Name
Even if you’re not ready to buy your domain name today, it might be worth searching domain options to give you a sense of what’s available.
Here’s how to do just that with WebsiteSpot:
Type your idea for a domain into the search bar and hit “Go.”
If your first choice is already taken, we will recommend others. You can always just type another idea into the search bar at the top of the page, too.
When you find one that works, just hit “Select.” You can go through the list and purchase as many as you like.
Step 2: Consider Your Privacy Options
When you register a domain, the international WHOIS database is updated with information about the owner of the domain (in this case, you). This searchable database is open to everyone, so if someone wanted to know who owned your domain, the answer would be just a search away.
If you’d like to keep that information private, just let us know on the drop-down menu right below where it says “Protect My Personal Information.”
Another way we can help is by guarding against malicious transfers of your domain. This would occur if someone used identity theft practices to pretend they were you and then attempt to transfer ownership of your domain to someone else.
Lastly, we can also give you a Certified Domain Seal (CDS), which will prove to visitors that the ownership of your site is valid.
This is important for ecommerce sites, especially those where customers make large purchases. These customers want to know that the person controlling the site is the real owner who will actually send them the products they’re paying for.
Otherwise, after a malicious transfer, a hacker can take payments without ever fulfilling the transactions.
Step 3: Get Help Building Your Site
Nowadays, you don’t need a ton of technical skill to build a professional, high-functioning site.
We offer two options to help people with building their site.
Website Builder + Hosting
Without ever entering a single line of code, this option will let you custom build the perfect site for your personal use or small business. It’s about as simple as learning how to register a domain name.
If you have a pretty good grip on building websites on your own, or you’re working with someone who does, our Hosting option will give you the tools you need. This includes cPanel, which has been the industry’s most popular control panel since 1997.
This is also the better option for sites with functionality requirements beyond just your basic pages and a shopping cart – or for those who manage multiple sites.
Step 4: Add an Email to Your Domain
Would you like an email connected to your domain name?
For example, we have this email address connected to ours: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sure, we could have used Gmail or another common option, but this looks far more professional.
We offer two options in this category:
- 2GB of storage
- Unlimited storage
Either way, you’ll receive five email addresses, a group calendar, and 1GB of cloud storage.
Step 5: Continue to Cart and Proceed to Checkout
After you’ve chosen your specifications, click the last button at the bottom of the screen:
On the following page, take a moment to review your order and make certain you’re 100% happy.
If you are, click “Proceed to Checkout.”
Step 6: Enter Your Billing Information
Finally, simply enter your billing information and you’ll have your very own domain.
Get Started Today
Now that you understand how to register a domain name, get started today.
As you can see, there’s really nothing to it. Once you have your domain name chosen, the entire process will last about a minute.
After that, people from all over the world can begin finding your website just by typing in your domain name.