How to buy Domain Names
Buying a domain name is an investment in cyber real estate. There are people who make a living from buying domain names and then selling them on. At under $10 a year it is deceptively cheap to buy website names but there are mistakes that can cost you dearly. If you build a website and then have to change your domain name there can be many costly ramifications...so you may want to read our article on how to choose a domain name before you get your credit card out.
An example of a costly mistake a client made: Bought a domain name, built a website, all went well for a number of years. Client had a number of emails and stopped using the one that his domain name renewals went to. His credit card expired in his account so even though it was set to auto-renew it was not able to and he did not see the renewal notices. Some smarty pants in a far away foreign country bought the domain name (which was a very unusual name that nobody else would possibly want) and then charged a large sum of money to the client for them to buy it back...and demanded that they hosted their website with this pirate registrar. Not good. Very stressful and expensive. But etched in both of ours brains forever...
So back to you buying a domain name:
Once you have conjured up a suitable domain name or better still a few (cause the one you want may not be available), you can get started. Oh ow…cross your fingers, say your prayers and don’t hold your breath for too long. Here are a few things you need to know before purchasing...
You need to go to the website of a domain registrar or reseller such as www.TestsTestsTests.com or Godaddy or whoever appeals to you.
If you are buying a domain with a country code extension you may have to buy it from a domain registrar in your country. Some country codes are available at International registrars and some are not – it varies from country to country. It depends on how strict the country is. If you buy a country code extension you need to reside in that country or have a company based in that country. You will probably have to fill out some of your business registration details or taxation related information for country code extensions. So get your paperwork out. You do not have to do that for domains such as .com, .net, etc. So if you are starting out as a hobby website that you hope to build into a business someday or you haven’t registered a business name it may be easier to start with .com or .net or other non-country code domain extensions.
There are a horrendous number of domain extensions available these days. You might want to sit down with a cuppa something and prep your brain for overload. Dzzt dzzt. (No that is not web terminology that is the sound your brain may make as you try to choose and buy domain names). Domain names are divided into “Common TLDs” (Top Level Domains) and “International TLDs”. There is such a long list of domain name extensions you can register I have put it on a separate page for you to peruse with your cuppa something:
A list of the 436 Domain Name Extensions available at www.TestsTestsTests.com
Unless you are sure you are going to be able to get your customers to remember an exotic domain name extension it is probably better to stick to the well known ones like .com, .net or country codes if it is a local business. Although, I have to admit, as I’m writing this and glancing through the list of domain name extensions .com does seem a bit boring! But still you have to get people to remember it…But on the other hand some of them are pretty memorable e.g. .wtf, .guru, .yoga and I guess if you sell vodka then .vodka might be an option! Or .vegas if you are in Las Vegas etcetera etcetera. Choices, choices, choices!
OK now back to the serious stuff.
So you are going to go to a website that sells domain names like at Tests Tests Tests WEBSHOP and type in the name you want like shown below. Type in the domain name and the extension you want as shown circled in red, “mybigbusiness.com”.
And oh no. It's not available – not a huge surprise. The registrars website will hopefully be sophisticated enough to offer you variation on the extension – in this case the machine coughed up .org, .net, .co, .info, .online, and then showed variations of the domain name such as “bestbigbusiness.com”, “ourbigbusiness.org”, “mybigbusiness.biz” and so on. But remember you are not limited to the ones the website shows you. See example below.
If your first choice is taken then you can either change the domain name, change the extension, or try to buy the domain name from the current owner. If you are really stuck on your original idea for a domain name you may want to see if you can buy it. So type the domain name with the extension you want into a browser and see if there is a gigantic Godzilla of a website there, a little hobby website or a website which just consists of advertising or a parked domain sign from a domain registrar saying the domain name has been purchased. If it is one of the latter three there may be some chance of purchasing the domain. Otherwise back to the drawing board.
Below you can see what was on “mybigbusiness.com” at the time I wrote this article. Basically it indicates the domain name has been registered (is owned) and that website is for sale.
Below is another example of a "parked" domain. Domains automatically have a "parked" web page, usually with some kind of advertising on it, placed there by the domain registrar. If you don't want this, as soon as you buy it you can put up a pristine blank white page, an under construction sign, or whatever you like. This is an example of a website that is NOT being offered for sale but also not being used by the owner. So if you can track the owner down through finding them on the Whois database or by some other means then you may be able to buy it, (if the owner is willing to sell it and you can agree on a price).
You usually “buy” domain names for one year at a time. They are not something you buy once and own forever. You are leasing the domain name from the registrar. But you can sell them (sometimes for mega $$$) or rather transfer the license to another person for a price. You can buy your domain name for a number of years at a time or one year at a time. Usually you keep your credit card details on file with the domain name registrar and it will be automatically renewed each year if you set it on auto-renew. If not you will probably get lots of emails reminding you to pay.
You will probably find that if you look in your shopping cart it will have automatically set it up so you are buying the domain for 2 years at a time. So if you only want it for 1 year you will need to change that in the shopping cart. Sometimes one can go a little shopping mad while trying find a domain name and end up buying a whole lot of website names that will make you wonder what the hell you were thinking in a years time. If this is the case you may be best to set it to just buy one year at a time so you have a year to cool off - if you still want it in a year then you can renew it. And if not you can let it drop off it’s perch (turn the auto-renew off).
If you are very sure about the domain you are buying you can register it for up to a maximum of 10 years (longer than that is really tricky and complicated). Supposedly it is a signal to Google that you are serious about your website if have it registered for many years ahead so you may get a little credit for it SEO wise.
If you are new to buying domain names and it is around midnight (check the clock please) and you find more than 10 domain names in your shopping cart don’t register them all for 10 years… Think of the shoe-shopping caper you could go on with that money! If you still feel the same in the morning…
Once you have got your domain name or names in your shopping cart there are still a few things that are important to know:
* Your email is an important part of having access to your account which secures your domain so use one you are going to keep for a long time. This is also where you will be sent reminders that it is coming up for renewal or that your credit card is out of date.
* OK, try not to fall asleep while reading this name, as the info on the other side of it is important. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the governing body for domain names, requires valid contact information (registrant, technical, billing, and administrative). If you enter false information, your domain name can be cancelled.
You are required to put contact information in for all of the below:
* registrant = the website owner
* technical = might be your webmaster if you can really really really trust them
* billing = whoever is purchasing the domain name
* administrative = the website owner or whoever is paying
* IMPORTANT: The contact details you enter are going to made public on the Whois database. You may not know what the Whois database is but lots and lots and lots of people do… There are many good reasons (crazy trolls, security if you become an internet kazillionaire etc. etc.) to keep your email, address and phone number private. If you want to, you should buy a “private domain name registration”. Privacy is renewed yearly with your domain and is pretty cheap (unless you are on a domain binge of course). If you do this the contact details of the domain name registrar will show up on the Whois database instead of yours.
You need to get private domain name registration at the time you buy the domain. If you do this months or years later there will be websites (and I mean 100's of websites) that will continue to associate you with the domain name for years/ eternity / maybe until the web doesn’t exist anymore…I’m not sure but would guess at least 10 years. Yes you guessed it I did learn this from personal experience! So if you are planning to build a Secret Santa website or something and you don’t want anyone to know you are Santa – buy the private registration the very first time you register the domain name. If you have owned the Secret Santa website for a couple of years and then add privacy setting I’m sorry but you have blown it Secret Santa. People will find you…
www.TestsTestsTests.com offers FREE Private Registration if you buy 5 or more domain names.
I think that is about it! If you have any questions you can contact me through the “Ask our Experts” box in the left sidebar.