Choosing a domain name for your new website is an important first step in your online marketing goals. Since your name is the hub of your business, it needs to reflect your brand, your personality and be relevant so that it will resonate with your audience. Your first question should be ‘What will my domain name be?’ – your next question to ask is ‘What is the best domain name registrar?’ Read on, because I’m going to walk you through the process, step by step.
In this series of blog posts, I’m going to lead you through some pretty exciting content.
There’s an old saying that goes,
It’s easy when you know how.
It’s also easy to forget that what is common knowledge to one person may seem like a mountain of challenges to someone else.
My goal with this series of blog posts is to walk you through the process from having no presence online whatsoever, to up-and-running like a pro with your own website or blog.
In short, that will look something like this, with a whole lot of goodness packed in-between:
Domain Name > Hosting > Website
Here’s what we’ll be covering in this blog series:
- What is the Best Domain Name Registrar? (As well as how to choose a domain name & register it.)
- What is the Best Website Hosting for a Small Business? (As well as how to set up your hosting and what ‘hosting’ is.)
- How to Install Wordpress in Bluehost (Here we’ll define what WordPress is and how to set it up.)
- Installing a Theme in WordPress (How to choose a theme, where to get themes, and how to install them.)[Coming Soon]
- Start Blogging Like a Pro (Searching for relevant blog topics, how to use the WordPress editor and how to write content that provides value.) [Coming Soon]
What is a Domain Name?
If you’ve found this post, you likely have some idea of what domain name is. If you don’t, that’s okay – I’m going to assume you’re starting from square one and we can build you up from the bottom to the top.
In short, a domain name is what represents you on the ‘World Wide Web’. Really, a domain name is just a pretty face for a number (IP) that identifies you online. Think of this like your house number – it lets you get mail and allows people to find you – pretty simple, right?
For example, www.BodyCoachCanada.com is my domain name that I purchased, but the IP behind it is: 18.104.22.168. I think you’ll agree that the domain name is far easier to remember than a bunch of numbers.
Further, your domain name is what you can have fun with, build a logo and a brand around, market, and it has the ability to resonate and speak to your target market.
Choosing a Domain Name
If you’re getting ready to develop your first blog or website, choosing your domain name (just think ‘company name’) can be both exciting and a bit stressful.
I say stressful because there are a few things to consider:
- Staying Power – it has to be memorable, relate to your industry or niche, and it has to be relevant.
- Availability – it has to be available for purchase, meaning, no one else has bought it.
For example, BodyCoachCanada.com gives you some idea of what I do. It rolls off the tongue, is easy to remember, and it sounds like a company with some staying power (because it is!).
There are no hyphens, no uniquely spelled words or slang that I have to explain, and there are ‘keywords’ relevant to my niche, which is coaching clients and physique transformations.
While keyword relevancy and competition exceed the scope of this article, I want you to do your best to choose keywords that relate to you and your niche!
- ‘JohnsNoodleHouse.com’ is keyword rich, relevant and does not need any explanation – we can assume you can get noodles from John at his trendy little restaurant.
- ‘Jons-Nood-L-Haus.com’ poses a few challenges for Jon and he’s going to be spelling out his domain to his clients or potentially losing them to his competition (i.e., the other ‘John’).
Hindsight is 20/20:
Admittedly, my domain name, BodyCoachCanada.com may be a bit limiting as it sounds very specific to Canada, which was not my intent. Looked at another way, though, it can be seen as simply indicating where we’re operating from.
If I were to go back to 2012 when I started this blog, I’d likely have done things differently. However, as we have now built an online identity around this brand, there’s no going back.
Learn from my ‘mistake’.
Think about the longevity of your brand, think outside the box, and see yourself as bigger than you are (because you are!). If you have plans to build your online business, you don’t want your branding and domain name to suggest that you’re playing a small game.
Tips for choosing a domain name:
- Brainstorm: Just start writing! Seriously – get out a pen and paper, find a quiet place and let things flow. Creative ‘think-tanks’ do this all the time and this kind of ‘mind-streaming’ can help you to tap into some pretty cool ideas. Keep your niche and your company in mind of course, and think about the solution you are providing for them. Don’t worry about being perfect or finalizing anything at this point – just write and then keep writing. You can refine your list later. I’d start with a minimum of 25 ideas – remember, some of them are likely taken.‘MAGIC HAT’ Method: Stuck for phrases? Write down as many words that relate to your business as you can. These can be adjectives, verbs, nouns, you get the idea. Now cut all the words up so that each is on it’s own piece of paper and drop them all into a hat. From here, just select 3-4 at a time and see what comes out. Some may make you laugh, some will make no sense at all, but some may be winners.
- Clean House: Once you have your list of 25 (or more) ideas, there will be some obvious ones you’ll scratch off the list. With what’s left, you may develop more ideas as you get creative and even combine words and phrases. Have fun – this is your rough draft. You may end up with half of what you started with – that’s ok because we’re closing in on your kick-a$$ domain name.
- Ask for Opinions: What better way to get real-time feedback than to ask family and friends. If you have an email list or a list of contacts, send out an email blast and share your goals and your list with them. TIP: Facebook is a great place to pose a question, or even create a poll / survey asking people to vote on your ideas. From here, narrow this down to 3-5 solid contenders.
- The BIG Test: Alright – you’ve made a ton of progress and you’re ready to test out your hard work. From here you’ll want to head over to GoDaddy, and enter your awesome domain names to see if they are available! (That was a clue for your question, “What is the best domain name registrar?” ;)) – GoDaddy, of course!
Which Extension Should I Choose?
You’ve likely seen different extensions after domain names ranging from .com, .org, .net to some of the ‘designer’ extensions like .vegas, .coach, .me, .guru, and even .fish.
An ‘extension’ is simply a suffix which follows your domain name to denote the category your company falls within.
With so many options, it may seem difficult to choose the right extension for your needs.
Here are my thoughts on a few major domain name extensions:
- .com: the most popular and recognized extension for a company, shop, or business. Generally, this should be your go-to as it is the most well-recognized and seen as the industry ‘standard’
- .net: best for a network, and really started as ‘.com’s’ little brother. Historically, if .com wasn’t available, .net was the next best choice. Nowadays, there are likely better options depending on your needs.
- .org: best reserved for non-profit organizations, charities and foundations.
- .ca: generally speaking, these are best used for Canadian business owners operating in Canada exclusively, or wanting to present as being a Canadian company. Note: If both .com and .ca domains are available, I typically recommend getting both and forwarding one domain to the other with a ‘301’ redirect (more on this in another post).
- .me: and the other designer extensions work very well for blog sites and designers to set themselves apart from the crowd. Think of a domain name such as: coach.me – pretty powerful (and taken ;) )
What’s the Verdict?
In most cases, choose ‘.com’ unless geography or niche warrants a more fitting extension. If .com is taken and you are a company or a newbie-preneur with a big vision, choose a different domain name that allows for .com.
OK – I’ve figured out my Domain Name. Now What?
Perfect – you’ve done all of the hard work! Nicely done.
At this point, you should have 3 choices for domain names – one is your MacDaddy choice, and the other two are backups in case your favourite is taken already.
The next big step for you is to search for, and register your domain name.
You can search to see if your domain name is available by clicking the image below:
What is the Best Domain Name Registrar?
By far, GoDaddy is my go-to for registering domains. When I’m looking at an online product, customer support is a determining factor for me. With live-chat features and live telephone support, I can rest assured any issues or questions will be taken care of promptly. Also, GoDaddy is basically a household name as far as domain name registration goes.
Without question, GoDaddy gets my 5-star rating and a double thumbs-up.
Here are the steps to register your domain over at GoDaddy:
- VISIT GoDaddy.com by clicking HERE, or simply click the image below.
- Enter your domain name! You don’t have to enter the extensions as GoDaddy will show you what is available.
- If your .com or desired extension is available, congrats! -you have a winner. If not, just search for your next choice.
- From here, GoDaddy gives you the choice of adding the other available extensions, adding an email, and so forth. You can choose these, or skip, then hit the ‘Proceed to Checkout’ button. NOTE: I keep my info public and I set up my own email addresses within my hosting account. My advice is to choose the additional extensions you want, but skip the ’email’ add-on. We’ll get into this in my next post.
- Just scroll down, bypass or choose whichever upgrades you like and then hit ‘Continue to Cart’. Next, you’ll choose your registration terms. There’s always a better discount when choosing a longer term, i.e. ‘5 years’
- Next, just hit the ‘Proceed to Checkout’ Button to complete your order. It is here you’ll be prompted to sign in, or create a free account.
- The last step is to finalize your order.
We’ve covered a lot of ground and if you’ve stuck with me, you should have one (or a few) domain names from which to start building your brand and your website or blog.
I spoke about your domain name being your address online. Well done, and welcome to the big leagues!
Now it’s time to secure some real estate and claim your little piece of the “Inter-Web”, which is what we refer to as ‘hosting’. From there, we can start ‘breaking ground’ and dive into building your website with WordPress. Stick with me, and comment below if you have any questions!
Be sure to read my next blog post in this series, titled: ‘What is the Best Website Hosting for a Small Business‘.
Domain Name > Hosting > Website
I hope you’ve found my article on ‘What is the Best Domain Name Registrar’ helpful and that it will help move you toward your goals.
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