How to register a domain name for your website?
Congratulations, you’ve finally settled on a domain name, and now you want to register it. Good for you! We know how hard the searching process can be. If your domain is available, that is because one of these situations is true: Either that domain name has never ever been registered by anyone, or that domain name was once registered by someone, but they let the registration lapse (registrations are only for finite periods of time) and now the domain is available to be registered again.
If the domain was registered before, there might be artifacts associated with the old website, floating all over the internet. For example, if www.myDomain.con used to point at a website that sold men’s clothing online, then when you enter that domain name in a search bar you might see old records that reflect that old content. People might be referencing that old website in forum posts, or on blogs, or in tweets or Facebook posts. Sometimes this is good, sometimes it’s not. If the old version of the website had a bad reputation, or I it was penalized by search engines; that can have lasting repercussions on your new website even though you have no relation to the old site or former registrant.
To find out if the domain-name you want to purchase has ever been registered before, you’ll want to run what is called a “whois lookup“. Every time a domain gets registered, the registrant must not only define the records for the zone-file/registry, but the registrant must also submit their personal information (name, address, phone number, etc.) to the public database of domain registrants known as the “Whois” database. You can go to www.domaintools.com and check the site history.
We strongly recommend performing a historical lookup before purchasing a domain. If you do not want to spend money doing a historical lookup, you should at the very least perform these two free checks instead:
- Go to the largest search engines (Google, Yahoo and Bing) and enter the domain you want to purchase in the search-bar, surrounded by quotes. (Quotes force the search engine to search for an exact-match, instead of matching you with results that may or may not be relevant). This way, you’ll be searching the internet for any current references to your domain name. Review the results thoroughly, there may be free historical whois records, or people chatting about buying and selling that domain, or you may even see a cached version of the website.
- Go to the Internet Archive (archive.org) and enter your domain name in the “WayBack Machine“. The internet archive is a non-profit service that archives a lot of the more-popular websites on the internet so they can be reviewed later. By entering your domain name in the WayBack Machine, you’ll be checking to see if the archive has any record of websites existing at that domain.
— NamePros (@namepros) January 30, 2017
Once you have done the necessary research into your new domain, it’s time to make the purchase. During the purchase process the registrar will try to upsell you on dozens of products. They may try to sell you a “hosting package” or “email boxes” for your site, or “certified registration” or “private registration”. Honestly, the only upsell worth considering is private-registration. Some of the other products may be worth purchasing, but they can all be purchased or added on later.
Private registration, however is important to purchase at the time of the domain registration if you’re going to purchase it at all. You may be asking yourself, what is private registration? Good question. Remember the Whois database we mentioned earlier? Well, some people don’t want their name, address, phone number, or email address appearing in that public database. If you want to keep your information private, you can use a private registration service.
You can decide for yourself whether or not private-registration is necessary, and then proceed with the registration. The registrar will ask you to create an account with their service, and pay a small fee for the regisration (normally 10 – 20 dollars). You will be given the option to select the term of your registration (1 year, 5 years, 10 years etc). Despite what the registrars might claim, the jury is still out on whether or not extended-term-length registrations have any beneficial effect in the long run. I my opinion, you should register your domain for a year, but set it to auto-renew year after year. If you ever want to release the domain (let it expire) you just cancel your auto-renew subscription.
Complete the checkout process and wait a few minutes. The domain registrar will usually email you a confirmation that the domain has been registered. You will be logging into the registrar’s website/control panel from now on to administer your domain (and edit the settings). If you are asked to enter domain-settings (such as name-servers) during the registration process, just leave those as the default values, you can change them later.