A domain, also referred to as a domain name, is a combination of characters that identifies and refers to your website. A domain defines a particular realm of the Internet that is administered and controlled by a particular individual or organization.
These names are determined according to the Domain Name System (DNS). Names that are registered in the DNS are legitimate.
Why Get A Domain Name?
Today more than ever, individuals, organizations, and companies are registering their own unique domain names. Here are a few reasons why you should get a domain name:
- If you have a business or offer professional services, having your own domain name gives you credibility.
- When you purchase a domain name, it belongs to you and not the web hosting service that you use. That means that you can change your web hosting service without informing your regular visitors or customers of any change in the web address, also known as the URL.
- Choosing a name that is exactly the same as your company name or your personal name helps to create consistency and ensure that people return to your site. In addition, if you have a domain name that describes your product or service, it will improve your search engine ranking.
- If you hope to advertise on your website, you need a domain name. Few companies will be willing to advertise on your site otherwise.
Domain Registration: How-To
It’s easy to register a domain name. All you have to do is visit a domain name registrar, identify your preferred domain name, and pay a fee of between $10 and $35 to register the domain. After that, you own the name. Remember that you will have to pay to renew the domain each year if you would like to continue using it. The cost is usually the same.
Follow these detailed, step-by-step instructions to register your domain:
- Brainstorm a list of names that you would like to use. You will find that many names are already taken, so try to list a few. Try to keep it short, associated with your company, product, or service, and easy to remember.
- Choose a web hosting service. When you register with a web hosting service, you’re asking the web host to “host” the files that comprise your website on their servers. Some common hosting services include: GoDaddy.com, HostGator, 1&1, DreamHost, Bluehost, InMotion, Hostwinds, Arvixe, Liquid, and SiteGround. You may want to do some research into the cost and features of each service. Most web hosting services allow you to check the availability of domains by typing in the name you would like to use. Finally, identify any additional services you would like to purchase from the web host before you fill out their identification and/or registration information and send your payment.
- Or, register your domain with a domain registrar. The other option is to register your domain name with a domain name registrar. Some internet service providers (ISPs) do not allow this, so you will have to check to make sure yours allows it. Registrars such as Domjax, Namecheap, 1&1, GoDaddy, Name, and Gandi allow you to register your domain without choosing a web host.
- Find a server. Since you’re not using a web hosting service, you will need to host the files associated with your website on your own server. You can repurpose an old computer or purchase a server, but you will need to make sure it handles your traffic. You’ll need a fast system if you have a lot of traffic.
- Get a static IP address. You will need to set your IP address up to stay static, which means it can’t change. If it does change, people won’t be able to access your site.
- Purchase required software. If you want to run your server, you’ll need software. The most common server software is Apache.
- Configure your router, firewall, and any other security features. You will need to configure your router to forward connections to allow your website to work. Your firewall is required for the movement of traffic. There is a security risk to running your own server—it’s much easier to hack, which means you need to take safety precautions. Make sure you monitor your website security closely.
- Route your traffic to your computer. When everything is set up, make sure that your domain’s traffic is sent to your server. Test this a couple of times once you are done setting up. You’re ready to have visitors to your website.