Expert Roundup : How to choose and purchase a domain name

Expert Roundup choose and purchase domain name

"What do I need to know before I buy a domain name?"

I'm not kidding when I tell you I've probably been asked that question over a hundred times - and for good reason, too! Knowing how to choose a domain name and figuring out where to purchase it is a major step for any website or business endeavour. Heck, it's usually one in the same so you want to make sure that you've got it right!

Your domain name matters because it is the very first point of contact that your audience has with your brand, your website, or your business. People will make unconscious biases about your website and business based on your domain name so it's important to be intentional here.

In many cases your domain name will be the same as your business' name, which keeps things simple. But for others, the domain name might not necessarily be the same as a business name... in those situations, wouldn't it be nice if you could build your site first and THEN purchase a domain later? #wishfulthinking While you can sort of do this with Squarespace (thanks to their free trial), it's not a perfect solution and you shouldn't let the stress of choosing a domain name stop you from getting your website up and running.

Choosing and purchasing a domain name for your website isn't rocket science but it IS a step in the development process that should be considered carefully! 

Related: The Do's and Don't's of setting domain name renewals

I've reached out to some of the industry's leading experts to make sure that you have the best advice possible when it comes to choosing and purchasing a domain name. These professionals are all powerhouses in the the digital world who specialize in web design and development. From site builds to strategy to content planning to design, they know their stuff and have built impressive businesses sharing their knowledge and showing their work. Can you say #likeaboss?

The tips they've shared about choosing and purchasing a domain name for your website are practical and applicable to any type of website in any industry. I have no doubt that you'll be able to take their advice and get your site up and running today.

Related

To make things even more helpful and actionable, I've created a FREE GUIDE that will walk you through the best way to choose and purchase a domain for your website. You'll learn all about the four step process for coming up with a domain name, how to purchasing one, and how to connect it to your Squarespace website. This 2-page guide is informative and filled with tips you can start using today. It'll help you to implement advice from the expert's tips below (as well as many more included in the guide) and will only take a few minutes to get started. You can get that guide by clicking the button below, and it will be delivered to your inbox right away. Enjoy!


Picking and purchasing a domain name

Download my free 2-page guide to learn how to choose and purchase a domain name to connect to your Squarespace website.


ADVICE FROM THE EXPERTS

Without further ado, here's what the experts have to say about choosing and purchasing a domain name.

 

"Purchase your domain name and your hosting separately - that way if you ever have a problem with your host, it's easy to pack up and move. And believe me, hosting problems occur more often than you might think! When you're ready to leave, you don't want to have to go through the hassle of transferring your domain name as well as moving your site!

Keep your domain name as simple as possible. Avoid hyphens and numbers because people forget them, or don't know whether to spell out a number, or simply type the numeral in. If you have to explain your domain name to people, it's not a good one."

Erin Flynn, web designer & developer

"Your domain name is your website's right-hand man. You're going to be putting that bad boy on business cards, social media profiles, and saying it out loud to potential customers and clients as long as you're in business....so ya gotta get it right. 

Keep it short. Keep it simple. Keep it memorable. 

The fewer characters a domain name has, the easier it is to type, say, share, and remember. Don't use hyphens (-) or numbers, unless your business name literally has a number in it. And if you can scoop up the .com version, do it. Website visitors are used to typing .com after almost website name out of habit, so try to stick with that option versus a .info or .net."

Mariah Magazine, founder, Mariah Magazine Web + Strategy Studio

"When choosing and purchasing the domain name for your business and/or website, it is important to take the following important items into consideration:

Extraneous letters : If your business has "The" at the beginning of it, consider buying the URL with and without the "The".  Then, redirect one of the URLs to the other so the visitor arrives at the same site no matter what. Similar to adding a hyphen if needed, you may need to add or take away your The if your top pick is already taken.

.com vs. .net  vs. .org ... and so on:  .Com is still the most popular extension, so if you can snag it, please do. If you want to ensure there is no other URL similar to yours out there, consider buying .net and .org as well (whether you redirect them to your main site or just hold onto them so no one else buys them). .Net is a powerful extension, too, so there's no harm in choosing that one.  .Org is common and expected for non-profits.

Also keep in mind that most good web hosts offer one year of domain name usage for free (like Squarespace does!). So, if you are starting a brand new website/blog, you can grab your URL when you sign up for web hosting (e.g., Squarespace). If you buy it first (from a place such as godaddy.com or register.com), you'll miss out on the free year when you sign up for web hosting. Sometimes, though, you aren't ready for web hosting yet. If that's the case, grab a URL (a.k.a. buy it) sooner rather than later to avoid the risk of someone else buying it. Consider what's most important - saving a few dollars or getting the exact URL you want! We'd vote for getting the one you really want!

Knowledge is power, people! When you purchase your domain name, make sure you save your username and password you created with the company where you bought the domain. You'll need this information when you sign up for web hosting and/or if you hire a web developer. We have had many clients who have no idea where their domain is parked, and if they do, they don't know their login information. Keeping this info handy will make things go much smoother and faster when it comes time to make your site live, get support from the domain provider, or troubleshoot anything else that may need some attention. The same thing goes for your web hosting account. Definitely keep your username and password saved in case you or your web developer needs to get in touch with your web host for support."

Janet Hoover & Stefani Harris, founders, The Essential Website

"We personally use NameCheap for our domains and suggest the same for clients. Most of the other companies out there have excessive forms/upsells that confuse clients into paying for services they don't need. The biggest thing to remember is that it should be easy to spell, type out and read. Typically I would suggest matching your business name but sometimes it's not an option. If that's the case, you can do a version of the name but you should to stick to it as closely as possible.

Let's say your business name is Grit Agency but GritAgency.com is unavailable. You can do TheGritAgency.com or GritAgencyLA.com (if you're in LA, for example). They're both easy to read, say and type without any brand confusion.

If you're brand new and want to make sure your name is available (not just the domain but across all platforms), take a look at Namech_k. It checks all platforms, domains and media without you having to go one by one and doing it yourself!"

Sayeh Pezeshki, Creative Director,  Gilt Design Group


Final Thoughts

Choosing a domain name for your website can be as simple or as involved as you decide to make it, and what works for one website might not be the best solution for another. Depending on the type of website you're building, the domain name you choose will have different considerations than another. It's much easier to pick a domain name for a business or personal website (since they are usually one in the same) than it is to make the right choice for a website that doesn't yet have a clear focus. 

As you can see from the experts' advice above, there are steps you can take TODAY that will make sure that the domain name you choose sets your website off on the right foot. If you're getting ready to launch your first website, you will want to keep these points in mind to make a confident decision with your new domain name. By following these experts' tips, you can avoid any hangups and indecision you have about your domain name and move forward with ACTION!

Pssst: check out the other posts in the "Expert Roundup" series

Don't forget that I've created a FREE GUIDE that will help you choose and purchase a domain name for your website!  If you want to learn more specific advice on how to pick the right domain name, where to purchase your domain, and how to connect it to your Squarespace website, this 2-page guide has you covered. I want you to get the most out of the expert's tips, so this guide is intended to be actionable and includes strategies you can start using right away. Be sure to grab your copy by clicking the button below. Whether you've got a domain idea in mind and want confirmation in your choice, or you aren't sure where to start with your new website idea, this guide will make sure that you begin properly.

If this article has shown you how important it is to have a strategy in place when it comes to choosing and purchasing a domain name, that's awesome! You can totally do this on your own, and the expert tips and free guide (above) will be a great place to start. That being said, if you're looking to work with a website strategist for consulting on a deeper level, be sure to check out my consulting services and get in touch today #shamelessplug.

Now it's your turn to tell me, have you already purchased a domain name for your website? Did you find this article helpful if you're getting ready to purchase your first domain? What provider did you end up going with and did you find it easy to connect to your Squarespace account? I'd love to know so leave me a comment below!


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Charlotte O'Hara

Vancouver