When you begin the learning process about blogs and websites all the internet jargon can become a bit much can’t it? I’m planning a series of small posts that will demystify some of the pieces that you might be wondering about as you navigate this journey.
Today we’re talking about domain names and what you need to know about them and the best places to get them.
What’s a domain name?
I could reiterate what Wikipedia says about what a domain name actually is but it’s very techy and I don’t want to confuse people right at the start of this guide!
Basically, a domain name is the web address your website has. So for this one it’s kirstybartholomew.com for Facebook it’s facebook.com
Do I need a domain name?
Most people need a domain name – yes. The only ones who won’t are those who are using a free website for their blogs and utilising their domain name that they provide. You’ll know because you might be able to choose the beginning but the ending will be part of their site – eg it might look like kirstybartholomew.wordpress.com
If you want to own your own website and use it for your business or if you just want to have that originality then you’ll need a domain name.
It’s really easy to buy them and there are a lot of companies to search through – check out the two listed below though as it’s what I’m currently using myself and can recommend.
How much do domain names cost?
Domain names can vary in price due to what the TLD is (whether it’s .com, .net or something else) and what the company you use costs. Some have very cheap introductory prices for your first year, maybe $1 for the year, and then on renewal it can skyrocket upwards.
Normally .com domains will be in the $8 – $20 per year price range.
Sometimes people buy domains that they think others might want to buy from them – they can charge a lot more for that first purchase of them, sometimes in to the thousands of dollars. Once you have it though it will renew at a ‘normal’ price.
Do remember that domains cost money every year if you want to keep hold of them – if you don’t renew then someone else can buy it and you might struggle to get it back.
Where is best to get your domain name from?
I started off by buying my domain names from the same place that I got my web hosting from and then I used a large well known company (GoDaddy). Neither of these were bad options when I first started and often when you buy web hosting they’ll offer to give you your first year of a domain for free – result eh?
Actually that sucking you in with the cheap start is something to be aware of. GoDaddy does this and since it feels like a hard job to transfer it afterwards you often feel like it’s just easy enough to stick with them and then they put the renewal price way up. I ended up spending twice as much on domain renewals through GoDaddy than I do with the current companies I use.
I also learned later that you should try to keep your domain and web hosting separate because of risks if your site is hacked – there are probably more reasons, but since I realised that I decided to look for a better place to get them. I also have a bit of a domain addiction (don’t we all?) and having a cheap place to get them felt good!
I’ve listed the two companies that I currently use to buy my domains below – I have two that I buy from just so I don’t have all my eggs in one basket so to speak. They are both equally good I find.
Namecheap is getting to be a much bigger brand name nowadays than when I started. I have used them often for my domain names and more recently I’ve also trialled them for web hosting too.
I like that they show the price in UK pounds but do be aware that they’ll charge you in US dollars. You can use Paypal or regular bank cards or even Bitcoin. They do some great sales on Black Friday too if you are needing a domain around that time!
Like with most domain sites you can search through and see what’s available with their checker tool.
I’ve normally used them for .co.uk domains and the renewal for those doesn’t seem to shoot up – on checking, their .com prices do increase a little on renewal but not a great deal. Definitely still cheaper than I was paying before at GoDaddy
NameSilo is one that is a little less well known and I was introduced to it from someone else when I was looking for a cheap domain name. They definitely seem to be one of the cheapest although I’ll admit I don’t search too far and wide these days.
I tend to buy my .com domains here and their renewal prices are the same as the registration which is around $9 per year.
These are priced in US dollars but you can buy them from anywhere in the world. I’ve always had a good service from them but their site isn’t so intuitive to use, although they have recently revamped it so might be a bit better now.
You can check them out here. (also add the code Kirsty for $1 off your first domain purchase!)
My domain isn’t available – what should I do?
If your required domain name isn’t there you have two choices:
either find something else – maybe add a different word to it or something completely different
keep the same name but have a different ‘ending’ or ‘top level domain (TLD). So instead of having a .com TLD you could have .net or .co or if you have a country specific one you could try that.
It’s worth checking if the domain you want to use is actually in use. Does someone have a brand with that name being used? If so then it might be prudent to find something completely different – especially if they own the legal trademarks to that brand – it could become messy.
Sometimes companies hold onto domain names they think will be valuable and it doesn’t mean that it’s actively in use. You might even be able to buy the domain if you want it that much!
Do I need to get a .com or can I use something else?
The Top Level Domain or TLD is the letters at the end of your domain such as .com, .net etc
A few years ago I’d have said to always go with a .com domain if you can and if I’m honest, if it’s available I’ll always buy it – it stops others using it, especially if you have plans for world domination!
People recognise the .com domain and so for readers it makes sense to make it look as trustworthy as possible and some people say that Google likes it more too. I’m not so sure on that last one – I think Google sometimes prefers local domains if it’s relevant, so my .co.uk sites might do better when people are searching from the UK. Whether it makes a big difference I don’t really know for sure.
Nowadays though it’s much more common to see websites with different TLD and there are some really clever ways that companies use them so don’t be afraid to give it a go if you like the idea of something. Be aware that some readers might still get confused, but I think it’s getting a lot better and people understand a lot more.
I hope you’ve found this basic guide helpful for you – do let me know if you’re stuck on anything else when it comes to buying your domain name for your blog and I’ll add in some info about it.