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Chances are you’ve stumbled across this article on your endless search to figure out how to get rid of the .wordpress or .blogspot at the end of your website name…
(Or maybe you’re just curious what the heck a “domain name” is after hearing the term over and over.)
And that’s totally understandable.
Your blog discussing the latest trends of the Mayan Calendar (no, the world is not ending this year either) has some traction and your animated dog-themed shirts are finally starting to sell. It’s time to step it up to the big leagues.
While getting a domain name doesn’t exactly place your site next to Amazon in the search results, it’s heading in the right direction and gaining some credibility. And most importantly, it gives your site a recognizable home for visitors.
So, what exactly is a domain name?... Why is it important?... And how do go about buying one?
Well look no further, the answer is below.
What is a Domain Name? 🤔
Shall We Begin? 🎬
Your Site's Address 📮
Simply put, a domain name is the home address of your site. Instead of starting with a number and a street like a house, it starts with “www”. Okay, it’s not that simple, but you get the idea.
A domain name is what appears in the address bar. When referring to the name of any online business, you’re most likely referring to their domain name. So when a friend says “Google that”, they’re telling you to go to this site.
Just like Google’s domain name is www.google.com, it’s also its brand. The same goes for Amazon. If your sister is “using your Amazon” to order something, she’s going to the domain name, which is www.amazon.com.
A domain name is unique to your website. If you own www.myfriedpickles.com, (yes, click that link, it’s great) no one else can own that website. Much like if you own a house that has an address, no one else can currently own that house.
Paid vs Free Domain names
Lets Compare Them 🧮
Domain Types 💡
There are two types of domain names available. Those that are free and those that you pay for.
A free domain name is what you most likely have now if you’re reading this article. A site made through WordPress, Squarespace, BlogSpot, or other website creation sites. These are available to anyone free of cost and the address will end with the corresponding service. (.wordpress.com or squarespace.com).
A paid domain name is a web address you purchase off of a registrar, one that looks like most of the websites you come in contact with on a daily basis. So Yahoo, ESPN, eBay, these are all paid domain names.
Let’s look at two websites addresses that while in a different capacity, are really doing the same thing. They are a site about a person or people sharing travel experiences.
First, here is the web address of blog of 20-something working for the Peace Corp in Southeast Asia. She shares the stories of her time abroad.
Next, below is the website and blog of a professional travel couple. Notice the difference in their paid domain name. Keep in mind, these are totally different levels, but the power of a paid versus a free domain is obvious.
So now that you have an idea of what exactly a domain name is, how do you go about buying one?
How to Buy a Domain name
Or Rather, Where to Get Them 🌐
Domain Registrars 🛰️
The first step to buying a domain name is to find a domain registrar or in simpler terms, a service where you can buy the rights to a specific name for your domain.
On some occasions, you might have to go through the ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) to register or renew the domain name, but most often times the registrar site you use will take care of this step for you.
When looking at different potential domain registrars, make sure that not only do they have a system that will allow you to pay a recurring fee to keep the domain, but they also guarantee the protection of any and all information shared on your site.
Best sites to Purchase Domain Names 📡
Below are some of the more popular sites used to search, buy and register domain names. These platforms will also allow you to pay the recurring fees to keep ownership.
Pricing the Different Names 💰
Now that you’ve settled on your domain registrar, It’s important to know that different domain names will cost differently, depending on the popularity of the word or phrase used.
Let’s say you wanted to start a movie review site. You’re trying to buy the domain name “filmnutz.com”. This is what it would cost.
Now, if you wanted to be more specific and less general with the name, it would cost a lot less. While it wouldn’t get as much traffic for a general movie review search at first, it would be much more affordable to call the site nutsabouthorrorfilms.com.
Once you buy the name, you’ll have to remember to renew the subscription to your domain. Much like how we discussed buying a domain name is like buying a home with an address, you might still need to pay a mortgage. There is an upkeep cost to make sure it’s still yours. Most registrar sites will do this for you on an automatic renewal situation, but it’s something to keep in mind while running your website.
You Now Own the Name 📛
This seems obvious given the steps just laid out. You own the name, but that name is not stuck to one site. While it can only be used for one site at a time, you can transfer the newly acquired domain name to any site you own. This domain can also be connected and disconnected as long as you're still paying for it.
Why is it important to have a domain name?
It Doesn’t Hurt to Have It 🍬
In 2019, 1.92 billion people shopped online. That’s more than 25% of the entire population.
Think that statistic is daunting? Nasdaq predicts that by 2040, 95% of purchases will be through eCommerce.
Okay, why are we sharing these stats and what does it have to do with buying a domain name?
Search Engine Optimization ⚙️
Search Engine Optimization, also known as SEO, is another reason why having an established domain name is a good idea. When a customer gets online and looks for a painting company and you pay for a domain with the word “painting” in it, your business is going to show earlier in search results.
That means when people search for a “house painter”, your domain name would come before someone who paid a domain with a phrase such as “those who apply thin coats of a colored substance to nearby walls”.
Credibility and Professionalism 👔
The statistics shared above show an influx of online consumerism and that makes the credibility and reputation of online businesses exceedingly important for the success of any website. Credibility, in any form, is an important aspect of doing good business. So much of consumer spending is currently online, it’s hard to imagine going to a physical store for anything other than groceries. (Yes, I realize people also order groceries online, I’m just not quite there yet personally.)
When someone is choosing between clicking on your domain or one that ends in .blogspot or .wordpress, yours is going to win every time. Purchasing a domain name separates you from the millions of other sites that are less professional, less credible, and less trustworthy
Buying a domain name means you’ve invested in your business. You trust your site enough to spend the money to make it official. Whether they know it or not, visitors and customers feel the same way.