How to Get a Domain Name for Your Website

(Ping! Zine Web Hosting Magazine) – When you find out how to start a website, one of the first decisions you’ll have to make is your domain name. A domain name is made up of two parts – the parent, or primary domain is the extension, such as .com or .edu.,  and the mid-level is your actual “name” that, hopefully, people will remember.

The key is to find a domain name that people will remember that hasn’t already been chosen. This isn’t like choosing a user name, where you can be creative, or a password where you can be weird. In fact, with a domain name, the more creative and weird it is, the less likely people will be to remember it.

You want your domain name to be descriptive of the services or products you provide. You also want it to be the first group of words that a person thinks of when they may want your services.  It is safe to say that relevancy is very important. Think of yellow page headings when you do this. For instance, “daycare” would be a heading in the yellow pages. So, think of all the headings that would apply to your business, because those could become part of your domain name. In computer land, these are called “keywords”. They’re the words that people type in when they’re looking for information on the internet. These keywords are targeted towards your niche can pay off ten fold in Google, and it’s essential that your don’t overlook picking out a good domain for your website.

Brand Recognition For Your Site

Which brings us to the next part of your domain name. If you have a well established business, with a list of loyal customers, you can probably benefit from putting your business name in your domain name. This is because you have already built up some brand recognition, so people will be more likely to type in your company name. They are also more likely to be looking for you specifically.

On the other hand, if you are a start-up, or don’t have much brand recognition yet, you may want to go strictly with keywords. If your services are mostly local, including the city name will be an option. For instance, “daycarekansascity” will bring a lot of traffic your way in that area. However, keep in mind that the search engines that are looking for answers to inquiries are already looking at phone numbers and street addresses, which indicate your location, so the city is not quite as important in the domain name as the service.

The search engines will read your domain name from the right to the left. So, your extension or suffix will be the first thing it reads. The “.com” or “.net” will be the first thing the search engine reads, and then the service. So, you probably need your business name listed before the service, on the left. So, “sunshinedaycare.com” will make use of your brand recognition, but also bring in customers who don’t know about your business. You also might have better luck finding that domain as unclaimed, since it has your business name in it. “kansascitydaycare.com” may already be claimed.

Finally, keep your domain name short and easy to type. The more dashes, underlines, and caps you mix in, the more confusing it is to type.

Buying A Domain Name – Keyword Friendly

Once you have a pretty good list of keywords for your niche, it’s time to register your domain name. To do this, you need to choose a domain registrar. There are several online sites where you can register your chosen domain name.

Whichever registration site you choose, you’ll find a place to enter the domain name you want. You’ll get a page full of different domain names with your keywords in them. It’s sort of like when you try to enter a username, and the site makes suggestions for that username with an alteration. That’s because someone else beat you to the punch. Just resist the urge to choose a name that is “one off” from a legitimate keyword. For instance, Internet-Content-Writer.com may look like a great variation, but the dash between the words is hard to type, and therefore makes the domain name a poor choice.

Be careful, too, that the one you decide to click and purchase is the right “.” extension. While “.us” may sound  like you would rule the whole country with your domain, “.us” is not that high ranking on the search engines. The highest ones are “.com”, “.net”, and “.org”. You really need to try to get one of those extensions, or suffixes, on your domain name.

Do you see several really good domain names that you want to scarf up? Resist the temptation. You might get a couple of them, and link them to the same site (301 redirect), but the search engines don’t look kindly on hoarders. They call it a linking scheme, and they’ll block you. Besides, you will promote your domain name and build brand recognition, and that can be overwhelming if you have more than one or two domains.

Another thing to watch out for is the history of the domain you’re interested in. Many of the best domains have been used by other owners who have let it go for some reason. Not to mention the extra SEO value you will get for an “aged” domain name.

Domains Extensions For Your Website

You may have noticed that all of the websites you visit have a suffix, or extension attachment. These suffixes indicate the function of the website. For instance, the suffix/extension “.edu” indicates an educational website. Schools and universities will usually have this designation. The “.com” suffix is short for “commercial”, indicating that something on that site is for sale. The “.org” stands for “organization”, which is reserved for non-profit organizations; “.gov” designates government organizations; “.net” is for networks, usually for informational purposes rather than commercial sales.

There are many more suffixes/extensions on the internet. However, the most popular ones are: .com, .net, and .org. Search engines go to these extensions first (as mentioned above), and they rank much higher in searches because of this.

To start a website, you need to choose your extension, again, keeping in mind the 3 most commonly searched extensions: .com, .net, and .org. Then you choose a domain name.

Now, don’t get your domain name confused with either the URL or the IP address. Basically, your domain name is just a nickname that will make it memorable to the humans searching for your services on the internet. The URL, or Uniform Resource Locator page, is all the other stuff in front of and behind your domain name – the http://www, and http://classified, stuff. It is also the stuff that comes after your domain name, such as “/content_page.php?aid-blah_blah_blah”. Just remember, your domain name is in the middle, and that’s the part you choose. So, once you have your website set up, the URL may come up as something like “http://www.mydomainname.com/findawriter.php?_stuff”.

There is more to choosing your domain name, but now you know what your domain is, vs. a URL.

IP Addresses and Domain Names

As you delve deeper into the world of cyberspace, the terminology can often get in the way. For instance, you may think you have a name for your website, but it can be overwhelming trying to get that name made official. Some confusion often arises when determining the difference between the domain and the IP address.

Your IP address is the Internet Protocol Address, and has nothing to do with your domain name. It’s the technical garble that is the actual number given to your computer serving as a serial number that acts as a license plate on a car.  Every machine that is connected to the internet has an IP address – including your cell phone, the coke machine in the office break room, and the office fax machine. The IP address is in a “dotted quad” format, meaning you have 4 groups of number, separated by the usual “.” that you see in computer addresses.

Each internet service provider, or ISP, is allotted a bunch of IP addresses that it assigns to its users. The IP address is not built into the product, but assigned to it by the server. So, the IP address is something the server worries about so you don’t have to.

Your website will also have a URL, and often you’ll be asked for your URL, but that is also assigned to you. Your main task when finding out how to start a website is to choose a great domain name.

Your domain name should be something that tells the reader exactly what they’ll find on your website. The best way to do this is to come up with keywords or phrases that will lead people to your website. There are many sites on the internet that will give you ranking on high-traffic keywords in your field. Some of them are even free. So, brainstorm with your staff and family members, and come up with words that describe your business. Be sure, if you’re limited to a certain geographic area for your business, that you include the name of that area in your domain name. So, for instance, if you have a roofing business in Austin, TX, you might choose a domain name such as “roofinginaustin”. Other phrases could be “roofingcontractorsinaustin” or “autstinroofingcontractors”.  If your business also does siding, come up with domain names that use that, too, and they can open onto the same site. So, “roofinginaustin.com” and “sidinginaustin.com” will both open to your website. You’ll have 2 domain names, but one site.

It’s actually a little more complicated that this, but it’s a starting point. Finding a good domain name takes a lot of study, but it pays off in the long run.

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