If you’ve already begun your entrepreneurial journey, odds are you have the passion, goals, and planning needed to get your business off the ground.
But now, you need to start building your empire online.
Having a great website all starts with buying a secure small business domain name. Although most of the major registrars on the internet are reliable, they can also be quite pricey. As an entrepreneur, you want to choose a domain that is secure, trustworthy and fits into your budget.
So, here are our top tips for buying a website domain.
How to register a domain
Check the availability of your desired domain name
Before you can purchase any business domain names, you first need to check if the name you want is available. You can’t register a name that matches another that’s already been registered.
To do this, you can use any domain name checking tool that’s freely available on the internet. Domain registrars or a web hosting company will usually provide some form of free tool for this.
Simply type in your chosen name along with the extension that you want to use e.g. .com or .org. you’ll be informed if the name is already registered.
Most of these tools will provide similar alternatives to the name you want so you may be able to secure something with a few adjustments or a different extension.
Stay away from single-word names
A lot of companies are attracted to using a non-specific domain name for business (travel.com or fashion.com) but you should avoid these. It’s expensive, indistinguishable and it’s hard to build a brand around a single word.
The single word might describe the industry you’re in, but customers are looking to buy from a brand, not a generic site. Additionally, Google and other search engines show preference to branded domain names over generic sites.
Generic names are bad for brand recognition and SEO
We had an advisory client who had a website called ‘coachingandleadership.org’ and we told him he’d have to compete with established brands like Harvard, a 100-year-old organisation known for coaching. However, if you call it ‘Adam’s coaching and leadership, or ‘Adams leadership’, then you have a brand and can differentiate yourself
In addition, with a generic name like ‘coachingandleadership,’ you’re going to struggle with your SEO and you’ll have to spend a lot of money to improve it.
Something to consider is using your geographic location in your domain name, for example, ‘sydneybookkeeping’ or ‘adelaidetailors’. These are great for SEO since most online customers are searching for businesses that close to them.
Remember, your domain name should be easy to type and easy to remember, but you need to strike the right balance to make your domain name work for you.
Don’t overcomplicate it either!
In your race to register your desired domain name before someone else grabs it, you might feel the need to use alternative spellings or punctuation marks to claim a certain name.
For example, removing vowels in the words ‘ngine’ instead engine, while it might seem creative at first, this can often lead to customers not remembering how to spell it, and having a hard time searching for your web address. You don’t want your website name to be so overcomplicated that it gets lost.
netstripes is easy to remember and differentiated for brand positioning. We were also able to get the .com domain extension. More on that below.
Decide on a domain extension
Domain extensions, also known as a top-level domain (TLD) are the last part of a domain name. For example, in ‘netstripes.com,’ the extension is .com. There are several extensions that you can choose from such as,
As a general rule of thumb, ‘.com’ which is supposed to indicate commercial sites, is the best extension for a new website. It is the most commonly used extension by most websites unless they are specifically an educational or organisation business.
However, if you are operating mostly in your region, you should get a geographic extension, e.g. .com.au along with the .com if you have global aspirations.
If you want to go a step further to protect your brand name, purchase as many alternative extensions as you can, for example – .net, .org, etc. so that someone else won’t start a business with the same brand name with a different extension.
We had a client who had a competitor who used a domain name very similar to his which led to a lot of confusion and lost sales. If he had purchased alternative extensions when he had started his business, that could have been avoided.
Do note, if your chosen domain name and extension are highly sought after, you might have to pay more for it as chances are someone else already has/is trying to register it.
Buy from a recognised registrar
Domain registrars are the businesses’ that manage all the website domain names (E.g. netstripes.com) – essentially, the base of your online business, which can also include features like hosting and privacy measures.
There are hundreds of places you can buy a domain name from, but the best place to buy domains (and the more secure options) are the larger, well-known websites.
You could probably cut costs and go for an unknown domain registrar, but you never know what you’re getting with those sites. Plus, while the chances of them closing down is probably low, why add that risk to your business?
The prominent companies also provide added benefits like 24/7 customer support to sort out any issues you might face – something you won’t find at a smaller domain site, so you’re saving yourself the extra fees if something does come up.
Some of the top domain registrars include:
- 1. GoDaddy
- 2. Only Domains
- 3. Domain Registration
- 4. Cheaper Domains
If you’re stumped by the number of choices available or not sure about which registrar seems more trustworthy, get in touch with a digital marketing agency in Sydney that can help guide you through the buying process.
Your first step to building a world-class website starts here
Pricing for registering a domain can vary and some sites are pros at trying to up-sell extra services during the registration process.
While $12 per year sounds like a steal on a ‘.com.au’ address, a lot of them will try to throw in extra domain options such as .com or .net. And these deals are generally offered at inflated prices. It’s their version of “Do you want coke and fries with that?”
Be wary of these kinds of offers, they might sound good, but you’ll probably end up paying extra for features you’ll never use. Another tip is to grab deals by registering your domain for at least two years.
In general, the more years you purchase, the lower the price per year. And since the costs tend to go up annually, you’ll be locking in a lower rate.
Traps to avoid when registering your domain
Be careful of registrars that offer to build websites. Many business owners have fallen prey to these traps and have been taking them on a path of pain only to recover after many months or years.
Registrars are only good at domains and side offers like website builders need to be avoided at all costs.
Make sure the following features are available:
- Auto domain renewals: Most businesses offer this service, but it’s always good to double-check. If not, you risk losing your domain if you forget to renew it.
- Free domain parking: this means you have a domain that’s not connected to any service with an “Under Construction” page. This gives you time to work on your website and launch it later.
- Hosting options: while most of the large registrars’ offer hosting options, in most cases, businesses opt to host their websites on other sites. This allows them to change hosts without moving their domain
Keep track of expiry details
One of the most terrifying things that can happen for any business owner is putting in so much time and resources to create a world-class website, only to find their domain expired. This happens quite a lot with first-time website owners.
Not only will your website be down, but it’s even worse if someone else steals your domain name and takes credit for all the hard work you put into building a brand.
Below, are just some of the reasons why your domain might expire without your knowledge and how to resolve it.
- Renewal reminder notices: Switching off renewal reminder emails and notification is a number one cause of business owners missing expiry notices.
- Auto-renew is not enabled: By enabling your domain’s auto-renew, you save yourself from forgetting to manually renew it. This feature automatically renews your domain before expiry and will continue running unless there are changes made or billing issues.
- Outdated billing information: If you lose your credit card, or it expires, it can be is easy to forget all services and subscriptions that are connected to the card. If your domain is having issues renewing due to errors in billing information, you should receive notifications (another reason to enable renew notices) to correct the error before it’s too late.
- Your primary email is connected to the domain: When you register a domain you also receive a new domain email address as your primary email source. However, it’s wise to add a secondary email address to your account to ensure that you have access to your domain’s passwords and details if you lose access to the primary account during the renewal period
- Waited too long to renew: Even with reminders, emails, and notifications, sometimes the reason you could lose your domain is simply that you waited too long to renew it.
As a business owner, you shouldn’t be worried about details like this, so save yourself the stress over losing your domain name by working with a trusted tech support provider who will keep an eye on matters to ensure your domain is secure always.
If you follow these tips, then you’re on your way to buying a great domain that won’t cost you the earth. It’s not as complicated as it might seem. As long as you stick to the reputable registrars and read the fine print, you’ll be fine.
And once you have it, you can start building your website and then driving traffic to it. To learn more about that, read our blog 5 Simple Ways To Drive Traffic To Your Website.
Are you ready to elevate your business to another level?
Feel free to talk to one of our digital strategists today. We are more than happy to help! Contact us now.