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How to Choose, Register, and Use Your Domain Name

What is a Domain Name?

Simply put, your domain name is your website address.

Your Domain Name, in the form of a URL, is unique and identifies the specific computer on the Internet where your site is hosted. For instance, this Web site's domain name is AStreetWeb.com.

Your can also use your domain name for your email addresses which are hosted on the same computer.

You can get one by registering – for a fee – your desired name with any one of numerous Domain Name registrars. Your Domain Name is yours to keep as long as you pay the renewal fees on time.

Why should your business have a domain name?

  • Enhance Your Company Image
    If you have a business website, you should have your own Domain Name to project a professional image and enhance your company's credibility. As you promote your Web site, you'll build be building name recognition for you and your company.
  • A Permanent Address
    Registering your own Domain Name means you have permanent address on the Internet for your business and email. You can print your Web site address and email address on your business cards, stationary and marketing materials without having to worry about it changing in the future. It will be easier for your customers to find you and contact you.
  • A Portable Address
    Your Domain Name is portable, meaning you move your name along with your Web site pages if you choose to change the company that is hosting your Web site.

How to choose a domain name

The ideal domain name is:

  • Short
  • Easy to pronounce and understand
  • Easy to spell
  • Easy for your customers to remember
  • Must be One-of-Kind
    Like your phone number, your Domain Name must be unique; no one else can have the exact same name. However, over 11 million domain names have already been registered. Your most difficult task may be finding a Domain Name that is appropriate for your business that is not already taken, especially with the highly desirable .COM extension. (see more below)
  • Pronounceability is important!
    You will be "speaking" your new domain name to friends and clients in person and over the phone. Unusual words, weird spelling and dashes may confuse your customers. Avoid them.

COM, ORG, NET—Which to Choose?

The .COM, .ORG, or .NET extension part of your domain name is called the Top Level Domain or TLD.

Get the .COM extension if your Web site is for a business doing business in the United States.

Why?

  • It is what your customers will expect and be easiest for them to remember.
  • Today's browsers automatically try to resolve the domain name to .COM extension if your customer leaves off the extension.

.NET stands for Network, and would be appropriate for a Web site hosting company. .ORG stands for organization. If your site is for a club, or non-profit group, .ORG is for you.

If your site is for a business whose customers live primarily in another country (not the U.S.A), consider getting a top level country domain (like .DK for Denmark or JP for Japan). This is a simple way to signal that your company is especially interested in doing business with that country's residents.

A number of new Top Level Domains have recently become available, such as .TV, and .BIZ. While these are another option for you, I recommend you not to choose these. It is too easy for your customers to confuse CoolDomainName.com (someone else's) with your CoolDomainName.BIZ.

Other Technical Issues

Domain names
  • Can be any length up to 67 characters
    for technical and other reasons, try to keep your name 26 characters or less
  • Can have ONLY letters, numbers, and dashes
    No spaces or symbols allowed
  • Are NOT case sensitive
    AStreetWeb.com is the same as astreetweb.com.

Get Feedback

When you have settled on a few name choices, see what your friends and clients have to say. Say them aloud to check understandability. See if you need to spell them out or repeat many times to be understood. The bad names will quickly be weeded out.

Is the Domain Name You Want Available?

Once you have decided on the Domain Name you want, you'll need to check to see if it is available. You can use the Domain Name Availability Tool here on our site. Or you can check at any of the many domain registrars. To find one, put the words "Domain Name Registrar" into your favorite search engine. (Often your Web site developer will check this for you as part of the service. Ask.)

Name Already Taken?

But what if it is already taken? You'll need to either choose another name, wait for the registration to expire and try to buy it then, or buy your first choice from the current owner—often at an exorbitant cost. Your Web developer should be able to help if you want to try to buy a domain name that is already taken.

See Related article: Domain Name FAQs

Register Your Name

If the address you've chosen is not already registered, you may register it at any domain registrars for a fee.

Prices and service levels vary, so check around. Your web developer will be able to suggest a registrar if you need help choosing one.

You can register your domain name for up to 10 years, 2 years minimum to start; most people register for the 2 years and renew for 2 years when it comes due.

Your Domain Name is yours to use for as long as you keep paying the registration renewal fees.

Make sure the Registered Owner is YOU

If your Web developer will be registering your domain name for you, MAKE SURE that he puts your name in the Registered Owner field. If he puts his own name, then technically he is the registered owner, not YOU. This may not be a problem unless or until there is a problem with that developer. You could lose your domain name or it could be held hostage in a dispute.

Don't Forget to Renew!

Be sure to make a note of when you need to renew your Domain Name. Your registrar may remind you when it's time to renew but some don't. Find out.

If you fail to renew your Domain Name before the renewal date you could lose it.

A Street Web can help you get a domain name

We can do the legwork for you: research your choices for availability, register your choice, and keep track of renewal dates.

At A Street Web Design, we take care of the details so you don't have to!

Want to know more about Domain Names?

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