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An Overview Of How Novices Should Choose a Domain Name

By Tom Seest

How Beginners Should Choose Domain Names

When you’re new to using the Internet for career purposes, you realize there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes research and strategizing happening by the people who are running the very websites you have been visiting for years.
One of the most important aspects of being an online entrepreneur is to have your own home on the Internet. This piece of virtual real estate is something that will remain in your control, which allows you to make decisions about how you run your business.
Some Internet marketers rely on third-party platforms that are free to use. However, this puts their business at risk. There have been numerous occasions where online entrepreneurs would wake up one morning only to find all of their profiles and accounts shut down without warning.
Sometimes, there is no reason for the ban, but you have little recourse in appealing to these platforms to recover your profile, account, and all of the content that you have worked so hard to create.
As a newbie to purchasing a domain name, you need to understand how the process works and how to shop strategically so that you are not wasting money or doing something that will result in any future problems.

This photo was taken by Polina Zimmerman and is available on Pexels at https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-using-macbook-pro-3746947/.

How to Understand What a Domain Name Is and Is Used

The first thing you have to do is understand what a domain name is, technically. This is a unique identifier that shows what your virtual real estate (website) is online. You can come up with a variety of letters and numbers, including some dashes or underscores to create a web URL that only you can own.
When you register a domain name, there is a top and second level of the domain. The top level domain (TLD) is the keyword portion or main portion of the domain name. The second level domain (SLD) is what comes after the dot.
For example, it might be the most common one, which is .com, or it might be one of the other extensions, such as .net, .org, .edu, and so on. The best advice you can get for buying a domain in terms of your SLD is to always go with a .com extension.
This is the most memorable extension for consumers, and they often will type that in automatically, even if your web URL is actually a .net or .org. You don’t want someone else to be able to siphon off the traffic from whatever branding you have gone to the effort to create online.
If the domain name that you have brainstormed is unavailable as a .com extension, it’s always better to go back to the drawing board and come up with a different name than to simply register a different extension.
Domain names can be used for many different types of purposes. The most common use, of course, is to build a website on it. You can install a blog or create a website to sell products, inform an audience, etc.
Some people buy domains that they like to point to a more established website that they own. This is called a redirect and it can help you send traffic to a domain that funnels on to your main URL.
If you’ve been branding your business online, but you don’t have a website of your own yet, registering your own domain name can ensure that someone else doesn’t come along and stake claim to your brand name website.
Many people who are online entrepreneurs like to register their name as a .com URL. Others prefer to go with a combination of keywords or a phrase that can be easily recognizable for a particular niche.

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How to Choose Where to Buy A Domain Name

Now that you know what a domain name is, you have to figure out where you want to buy yours from. This is more important than you think it may be. Each domain registrar has different pros and cons to buying from them.
So how do you make a decision on where to get yours? The first thing you might want to consider is the price. Every domain registrar has different price points. You can also find coupon codes for new buyers that can save you money on your first domain.
For example, if you go to Google and type in the phrase GoDaddy dot com coupon, you can usually find a coupon code that will allow you to buy your first domain at just $0.99 for the first year.
When you are on a budget as a newbie marketer, the savings of approximately $17 can help you spend that money elsewhere, possibly on another tool or course that you need to help you succeed.
But you want to look at what the future cost of your domain will be, too. Be sure to read the fine print of the domain registrar�s billing process. You will have the option to auto-renew your domain or to manually renew it when the time comes.
The system will also ask if you want to make your domain private. This is to protect your name and address, and many people like to go the extra mile to add this protection. However, it’s not mandatory.
Another thing you want to look at is how easy it is to manage your domain names on the site that you are considering purchasing them from. Ideally, they will have a good, user-friendly dashboard and a bank of questions and answers to help walk you through the process.
You want to make sure that whoever you are buying your domain name from, they have 24-hour customer support options in case your domain is ever hacked or you have other problems with it.
You may or may not want to purchase your domain and hosting from the same business. There are those who warn against combining the two, claiming that their domain has been held hostage in certain situations, so you may want to separate those.
However, some people like to combine the two so that they can get discount pricing for the bundle and so that it’s easier to maintain and manage everything in one place. Keep in mind that if the company has any type of technical issue, you could lose access to your domain name until it is fixed.
One of the most popular places to purchase a domain is GoDaddy. This is one of the biggest domain registrars in existence, and they have an easy user interface and lots of customer support.
Another popular domain registrar is Namecheap. This is hailed for its affordable pricing, and they also have a newbie-friendly system with solid customer service support. Google is now in the domain business with Domains. Google, as you can imagine, they have top-notch pricing and service as well.
There are dozens of others, including BlueHost, Domain.com, and more. You may also want to find an online tool or service that helps you see if a domain name is available. Some of these tools will help you brainstorm similar domains so that you can find something that fits your needs.

This photo was taken by Shamia Casiano and is available on Pexels at https://www.pexels.com/photo/food-is-bae-wooden-decor-944735/.

How to Perform Niche Research for a Domain Name

Now that you’ve learned what a domain name is and how to shop for the right registrar to buy it from, you want to begin the brainstorming process to find the right domain name for your business.
The first thing you want to understand is that it’s always best to keep the domain name as short as possible. Try not to go over three words in total. The longer the website name, the more chance it is for a consumer to type it in the wrong.
Some newbies have read old advice about snapping up domains using hyphens if the unhyphenated domain is unavailable. Or they are told to register a domain with a misspelling in it.
This is poor advice in this day and age, and you can always use tools and extra thought processes to find the domain name that works great for your brand. Before you go purchasing every domain that you brainstorm, take time to think carefully and brainstorm several different options before making your final selection.
You may want to start with some niche research. Whether your niche is a health topic or pets, survival or finances, you want to think of a domain name that suits your brand and appeals to your target audience.
Ideally, your domain will be memorable for your customers. You don’t want to snap up a domain that is too close to one of your competitors just because you’re hoping to siphon off some of their traffic.
You want your brand domain to be unique and something that sets you apart. It should be highly relevant to the niche and content that you will be putting on the website so that when people see the URL, they automatically know what that domain will be about.
You want to conduct some keyword research because that will help you swap words and phrases around until you find a domain name that is available as a .com URL. Having keywords and phrases in your domain name helps human visitors and search engine bots recognize the relevancy of the content.
When registering a domain name, you don’t want to be vague or cute with your wording to the point where people can’t look at the URL and instantly identify what the content will be.
This is risky behavior because many consumers will not click on a link unless they feel confident that the site is going to be something beneficial and valuable to them. When you’re conducting your keyword research, pick out the relevant words and phrases that have the best search volume.
Make sure you don’t narrow your domain name too much if you’re niche topic is going to be broader. For example, if you are targeting the dog niche, you don’t want to register a domain that only discusses chihuahuas or German shepherds.
While you don’t want to rush the process, you do want to get your domain registered as soon as possible whenever you have firmly settled on the name that you feel will best represent your brand.

This photo was taken by destiawan nur agustra and is available on Pexels at https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-holding-iphone-while-eating-1034940/.

How to Avoid Domain Names That Could Attract Trouble

There are some things you have to be careful about whenever you are registering a domain name. You can’t just register something just because it’s available. While owning your domain name gives you full control over your website, there are still some situations where you could encounter trouble.
One of those is if you register a domain URL that is in conflict with a trademark. Not only is this an ethical issue, but it could land you in legal trouble if the company finds out you have registered that domain.
This is a very strict situation where you will not be able to fight back against ownership because a trademark has been filed legally to make sure no one can infringe on that brand.
For example, if you were in the travel niche and you were to try to register a domain name with the word Disney in it, you might get away with buying the domain and even building some content on it, but they scour the Internet and as soon as they find it, you would be shut down in an instant.
You don’t want to go to the trouble of not only building content on a domain but also building important backlinks from other authority sites to help your search engine optimization efforts, only to have it shut down by authorities.
You want to make sure you are researching the domain URL you are considering to see if it violates any trademarks. There are tools you can use online to search and make sure it is free of any problems.
Another problem you may encounter is if you purchase a domain name that has a bad history associated with it. Even though you plan to build a brand new website, if the domain was owned by someone who previously used it for nefarious purposes, it may hinder your ability to succeed online.
For example, if the domain name was used for unsavory purposes or if the owner used the domain URL to spam people, you may find it hard to get your emails promoting that website through to your subscribers or even get the site ranked well in search engine results pages.
You can use tools like the Wayback Machine to see what the history of the domain was. You may discover, through a simple Google search, that the website was used for phishing attempts or some sort of malware scam.

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How to Avoid Add-Ons and Extras When Buying Domain Names

Once you find an available, clean domain name to purchase, you’ll be going through the buying process. This can be a sticky situation for newbies who have never purchased a domain before.
You’re going to find that after you add the domain name to your cart, the registrar is going to try to convince you to tack on numerous features and add-ons that will increase the cost of the domain significantly.
Some newbies go into this thinking they’re only going to spend under $20, and after they go through the checkout process, their domain name ends up being well over $100.
The thing you have to remember is that you do not need all of these features. They’re going to write their copy as if you do need it, and as if you will be floundering without it. But the truth is, you don’t have to add anything on but the domain name itself.
They’re also going to try to have you register more than one year at a time. In the beginning, as a newbie, it’s always best to register a single year of the domain to ensure that you stay committed to the topic.
So let’s look at the add-ons they are going to try to convince you to buy. The first one is email addresses. They’re going to make you think that you have to purchase the ability to have an email from your .com domain.
But the truth is, you can do this for free through your hosting account. For example, if you have to host through HostGator, you will simply go to your email section in your cPanel and add your email account from there.
In a worst-case scenario, you could even use a free Gmail account for your branding. But that’s not necessary. You can have an email account with something like admin@yourdomain.com. Justify setting it up through your hosting.
While it may not seem like much, when they price it at approximately $2.99 per month, when you start adding all of these features onto the basic cost of a domain, you’ll find that the cost begins to soar.
They’re also going to try to convince you to add privacy protection for your domain to protect your personal information. You can get this for approximately $10 per year, but make sure they don’t offer a free privacy protection option that you could choose instead.
Some domain registrars are going to try to convince you to buy up all of the extra domain extensions, such as .net, .org, .info, and so on. You don’t need to purchase these, so you should stick with your .com domain alone.
Many domain registrars will try to sell you on website builders. They claim that you don’t need any advanced skills when you use their site building tools. However, you can install WordPress for free and have a blog that is ready to go and easy to use without paying a penny.
You may also be offered some sort of SEO tools at checkout. While these can help you improve your ranking in the search engines, there are free and less expensive SEO tools that you can use online without paying the domain registrar.
They may also try to get you to sign up for some sort of online store builder. If you plan to have some sort of e-commerce store, it might make sense for you to add this on, but there are other options you may want to explore before you simply add on to your domain purchase.
Some domain registrars are going to include an SSL Security certificate for you at no cost, but others are going to try to charge you for it. This can be a $70 per year add-on, so you may want to shop for a domain registrar that includes the cost.
There may be other types of security options offered as well. For example, they may install a firewall or some sort of malware protection and DDoS protection for your website.
Instead of starting off by bulking up your domain purchase as a newbie, stick with the domain only in the beginning. You can always go back and add on extra features if and when you decide you want to upgrade or utilize what they’re offering.

This photo was taken by 42 North and is available on Pexels at https://www.pexels.com/photo/white-and-multicolored-love-is-love-banner-1280638/.

How to Monetize A Domain Name

When you find the domain, and you make the purchase, you want to think of how you can get a return on your investment period. There are many different ways you can monetize a URL.
The first and most common method is to build a website. You can install a blog on your domain name and begin sharing informative and entertaining content that you can profit from.
Making money with your online content can be as easy as inserting some code that will show ads from Google AdSense, or you might go to the extra effort of working with brands and businesses who want to purchase ad space on your website.
Another way you can monetize it is to engage in affiliate marketing, where you create content that recommends digital and tangible products to your target audience. Whenever they click through on a link and purchase the product, you earn a commission for that.
You can also sell products and services that are your own from the website. Whether you are selling info products that they can download or access or services such as coaching or ghostwriting, this can be done from your URL.
Another way you can monetize a domain name is without even having to build a website on it. You can own a domain and charge people to put ads on the URL space that will redirect to another website.
And a very lucrative monetization option that you may want to consider is flipping a domain name. If you have no interest in holding on to a URL for long-term purposes, you can flip it with or without going through the process of building a website on it.
Some people flip the URL only by auctioning it off to the highest bidder. Others will take time to build a website with content, get it ranked in the search engine optimization pages, and ask for a higher price for the buyer to take it over.
Going through the domain ownership process can be a little intimidating as a newbie the first time you do it. But eventually, you’ll have to make sure you are not becoming a domain hoarder because you have become so adept at finding the perfect URLs that you plan to someday do something with.

This photo was taken by cottonbro studio and is available on Pexels at https://www.pexels.com/photo/macbook-pro-beside-silver-and-black-cup-5052867/.