As business owners we want to be found easily online, so your obvious first step to getting your business online is to register a domain name. And, as a bonus, this domain name will also be used for your email address!
Registering a domain name is the process of taking your chosen name (e.g. OnlineBizDirect.com) and recording your ownership information on that name with a company called a registrar. The typical registration fees range from $10 to $20 per year.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind. First, you are only able to register your chosen domain name as long as nobody else already has it registered. Second, registering a domain name does not give you any type of legal or corporate naming rights or trademark rights. Those are completely separate filings. And likewise you want to be very careful that your chosen name doesn’t infringe on anybody else’s trademark or other brand.
Choosing a Domain Name
Your domain name carries just as much importance as when you chose the name of your company. Not only will it be the address used for your website and email, but it will also establish your online identity. The right name will go a long way in providing a valuable and consistent branding message.
Most of the time you will find that your company name or other super awesome name has already been taken and not available for registration. Although it’s pretty frustrating, there are still many ways to come up with some great creative ideas. It’s always best to have a handful of other options just in case your first choice is already taken.
Let the Brainstorming Begin
You will want to use online tools to help you with the brainstorming process. They will tell you if your favorites are actually available. The one found at whois.net is very quick and easy to use. GoDaddy.com also has a tool that you can check a bunch of names in bulk. If you are set on a name that is already taken, the whois.net tool will provide you with the registered owner’s information. You can contact them directly and make an offer to purchase the name directly. But, unless it’s life-or-death I would recommend moving along to find one that is not already taken.
Even if the choosing gets tough (and it will), try to stick to the .com extension. Don’t jump over to .info or the many others just yet. Something you can try is adding words before and/or after, like “the”, “inc”, “online” etc. You can also use a slogan or a service you offer, like PottedPlantsDelivered.com. This can create a consistent approach to an online strategy.
Domain Name Providers
There are a variety of domain name registrars available, but the most common are GoDaddy, NameCheap, NetworkSolutions and Register.com Usually the cost is between $10 and $20 per year, depending on the registrar you use and the type of domain (.com, .net, .org etc.) you choose. I will usually advise people to secure it for one year initially, then purchase multiple years on your renewal date once you’re sure you are happy and all settled into your website for the long term.
GoDaddy’s domain registration prices are reasonable and they provide an excellent domain name management and administration system. So for the step-by-step tutorials in this section we will use GoDaddy.com as an example to show you how to register a domain.