Registering a Business Domain Name - A Guide

After the recent article on the critical nature of a Domain Name to your business, I thought it might be worthwhile giving a quick introduction to registering a domain name for your business.

A domain name is the cornerstone of any online strategy for your business. It gives you an address to call your own in a changing online world. In this howto guide we'll look at how you can register your own company domain name and throw in a few tips for good measure.

What is a Domain Name?

As a quick recap, a domain name is a name to help people to easily remember Internet addresses. If you've ever visited www.google.com or www.facebook.com then you've used a name. Both are domain names as like www.onezeroone.com.au. These names are far easier to remember than the string of numbers that are used by the supporting Internet systems.

What Do I Need?

So, what do you need to get a domain name registered? Not a lot really. You'll need:

  • A Domain Name Registrar - a company responsible registering and managing domain names
  • A credit card and contact details to pay for the registration
  • In some countries you may need some extra details to complete your registration e.g. in Australia you require an Australian Business Number (ABN) if you're trying to register an Australian address like ".com.au".

What's the Process?

Registering a domain name is a pretty straightforward, three-step process:

  1. Find a Domain Name registrar
  2. Find a Domain Name that's not taken
  3. Register your Domain Name

1. Finding a Registrar

Finding a Domain Name registrar is as simple as searching for "domain name registrar" in your favourite search engine. However, due to the sheer volume of Domain Name registrars on the Internet, picking one can be a little daunting.

The other challenge is finding one with the right price and reputation. Domain Name registration is a commodity business so most registrars are priced very similarly. Picking one with the right price is easy but getting a registrar with a good reputation is another question. There are a few things your can do here to work out if the Domain Name registrar you've picked will give you good service:

  • The easiest - Ask a friend or someone who has some recommendations. I've put some registrars that I've used and that have a decent reputation below.
  • Check the ICANN accredited domain registrars. ICANN are responsible for governing the use of Domain Names across the globe and through their accreditation can give you some indication of the quality of the service you'll get from a registrar.
  • Check your favourite search engine for the domain registrar's name combined with "problem" or "issues" or other words that may help you work out whether they have a history of service quality issues.

Some countries, such as the United Kingdom and Australia have registrars (and sometimes registration criteria) specific to their country domains (e.g. .co.uk for the United Kingdom or .com.au for Australia). If you need these domains then you'll need to register a domain through one of those countries registrars.

Tip - Now, if all that's a little hard here's a starting point. You might want to try out "Godaddy.com" for most domain registration types (e.g. .com, .net etc). They've been around for a while and are well recognised. For cheap and cheerful Australian domain name registrations you can try "crazydomains.com.au". I've used both of these companies without any problems. I've also used a couple of companies where the relationship went sour - Registerfly and eNomCentral (Now Bulkregister). It's relatively easy to move your domain to another registrar if the need arises but it's better to prevent in my book.

2. Finding an Available Name

Before you can register a domain name, you need to find one that's not taken.

Before we get into finding available domain names, it's worth touching on the criteria for creating a domain name. A domain name is not case sensitive (i.e. ONEZEROONE.com.au is the same as onezeroone.com.au) and can only consist of any combination letters, numbers and hyphens (i.e. a-z, 0-9, -) up to 253 characters long. In practice, the simpler (and shorter) the domain name the easier it will be to use.

Next, you'll need to decide on a name. If you've already got a business, then you'll want to get something as close as possible to your company name. If you don't have a company name it's possible that your company name may be influenced by the domain names that are available.

Once you have a name in mind (or a few), simply enter the details on your new favourite domain name registrars website to see if it's available for registration as shown below.

Checking for a availability of a Domain Name

Once you've entered a name and searched, you'll get a page that looks something like the following.

Domain names available for registration

You can run through this process a number of times to work out what the available Domain Name options are.

Tip - To make your Domain Name easier to use day-to-day make sure it meets a few different criteria like being easy to spell, reducing when telling someone over the phone (spell it out loud to check) and limiting numbers (like onezeroone - when said to someone it could be words or numbers and can be confusing - I should practice what I preach!)

Tip - A Domain Name specific to the country(s) that you're conducting business in hold a better reputation that an generic .com domain (e.g. .com.au for Australia). If possible, you should register your country domain and some other alternatives to your domain name across different country domains e.g. mydomain.com.au (Australia), mydomain.com (US), mydomain.co.uk (United Kingdom) to help protect your domain in as many places as once.

Tip - You should also consider registering domains for any products or trademarks that you hold so as to capture a hold on the domain names relevant to your business.

3. Registering You Name

This is the simple part. Just follow the directions for payment and provide credit card details. Domain names for .com should be in the range of US$10-$20 per year but this varies per provider. The price also varies for localised domain registrations (e.g. .com.au in Australia).

Make sure that you provide accurate contact details. As mentioned in the previous article about the critical nature of domain names to your business, you need make sure the registrar can contact you in times of need (e.g. Domain Name renewal notifications!)

Tip - Make sure you read the subsequent screens through to payment once you've picked the domain name(s). Many domain name registrars "Value Add" through the payment process and offer services like email, website hosting and other services that you may inadvertently add to your bill at the end if you're not observant. Just make sure that you understand what the check boxes are doing in the subsequent payment pages.

Wrap up

Well, hopefully that gives you a good introduction into how to register a domain name for your business. Simple really.

Please feel free leave a comment if you've got any questions or any other tips that may help others. Best of luck!