Buying a Domain Name: A primer

Building a new website requires a lot of decisions to be made and one of the most important of those decisions is your new domain name.  The domain name you choose will be forever tied to your website and the importance of choosing it can’t be understated.

Availability

Long gone are the days of being able to choose almost any short and easy domain name and purchase it.  If you start looking for a domain name for your website, you might start getting frustrated to find that virtually every choice you can think of is already taken.  You can forget about short three, four or even five letter combinations – those are all long gone.  While you might find that a lot of them aren’t even being used for active websites, domain speculators have grabbed them up in hopes of selling them in the future for large profits.

But not all is lost.

Top Level Domains

A Top Level Domain or TLD is the characters after the dot.  For instance, .Com is the most recognizable tld on the internet.  In the early days of the internet, there were very few tld’s to choose from.  .Com for normal or business sites, .org typically for non-profit type organizations and country specific tld’s like .CA (Canada), .co.uk (UK), etc.

Now there are more than 1000 different tld’s available.  Not all of those are available to all people, as most country specific tld’s are reserved for residents or businesses residing in that country.

Even still, there are still over 700 generic tld’s available for pretty much everyone in the world and chances are there is one that might be suited to your website niche.

Say you are thinking of having a blog talking about lifestyle, or about you and your family’s everyday life.  You might then think about using the tld: .LIFE

Or perhaps your niche is in education or you are a teacher.  A good tld choice then might be: .XYZ

Price

You might not be old enough to remember, but when the internet was young – not that many years ago in 1995 – a domain cost a whopping $100 for a two year registration.  Those prices steadily dropped and nowadays with domain coupons, you can get a domain for as little as one or two dollars per year.  Domains are as cheap as they are ever going to get and there is a huge amount of competition for you to choose from for registrars.

Tips for Choosing a Name

As mentioned previously, virtually all short domain names are already taken.  When we say that, we are referring mostly to the most well-known tld: .COM.

You have choices.  You can choose to either have a longer domain name or choose one of the newer, less well known tlds.

An Example

Let’s say your name is Dave and you want to create a site about dog training.  A quick look tells you that dogtraining.com is taken.  Not a surprise.  But what about these options:

A longer domain name

Dogtrainingbydave.com is only a bit longer and more intimately describes your website.  It’s not long enough to scare people off if they have to type the domain in by hand and is very descriptive in nature.
On the downside, if you ever wanted to sell the website, the new owner is stuck with your name in the domain. Or you just have to wait and sell it to another Dave.

Add a hyphen

This isn’t always the best of ideas, but sometimes adding a hyphen in the name will get you close to domain name you’d like.  For instance, dogtraining becomes dog-training.  The downside of this option is that if a person has to type in your domain name, for instance off your business card, there is a chance they will leave the hyphen out and end up at your competitor’s site that doesn’t have a hyphen in it.

Choose a different tld

Choosing a different tld not only opens up a lot more choices for your domain name, the tld can be used to really reflect what your site is all about.  Maybe you have training camps for dogs.  You could choose dog-training.camp .  Or you want to sell videos you have made about dog training.  You could choose dog-training.video.  These are just examples (and were available at the time of writing this article) but hopefully you get the idea.

Last Word

While choosing a domain name is an important step, don’t get too hung up on it.  Pass your ideas by your friends, co-workers or spouse and see what they think.  Better yet, get these people to give you ideas as well.  It could just be that someone has a great idea for a domain name that you would have never thought about.  Have fun with the hunt for the best domain name!