To get started creating a website, we typically start with the domain name. If you already have a domain name for your website click here.
What is a domain name?
The domain name is the name of your website. It is made up of a name and an extension. There are many extensions such as .com .net .org and more. Whenever possible, we advise you to get the .com extension of your domain name since it is the most common, most credible, most recognized, and most memorable.
All machines connected to the internet have an IP address. An IP address looks like 192.168.1.1. Instead of people having to remember these numbers and type them into their internet browser to visit websites, we are able to use domain names which then point to the IP addresses of the machines that host websites.
How do I get a domain name?
Domain names are registered. Once a person or organization has registered a domain name, no one else can register that same domain name. However, domain names are only registered for a set period of time (typically 1 year). While it is possible to register for a long period of time (Network Solutions allows for domain name registrations up to 100 years), once the registration time period is up, if the domain name is not renewed it is available again to be registered. You can view domains that have expired and are available again at a website like https://www.expireddomains.net/register-deleted-domains/
To register a domain name, we recommend namecheap.
How do I find a domain name I can register?
To find a domain name for your website, see if your name or your business name is available.
If your name with a .com extension or your business name with a .com extension is not available, you can add to this if necessary:
- your city name
- your city abbreviation
- your state name
- your state abbreviation
If you are based in more than one location and this does not make sense, you can start to look for words relating to the topic of your website. Once you have a few words in mind you can use thesaurus.com or visuwords.com to come up with more words.
You can then look for domain names that contain these words either by directly searching for them or by searching for these words on an expired domains website.
If you are trying to decide which words are best, try to think of words that are easiest to speak, spell and type. Another way to generate ideas for domain names is to look for keywords that are frequently searched online using a tool such as https://trends.google.com/trends/ or https://serps.com/tools/keyword-research/
If you are not having luck finding a domain name, you are also able to purchase domain names. Look at https://auctions.godaddy.com/ and if you click under Popular Searches and search for Closeouts or Bargain Bin, there are some inexpensive domain names available. Other websites to look for domains include https://sedo.com/us/ and https://flippa.com/domains/all
Domains of Large Corporations
If you see that you can register the domain name of a large corporation because it has lapsed or they haven't registered it yet, we would advise against it because there is a dispute process and they can try to claim that they are the rightful owner of that name: https://www.icann.org/resources/pages/help/dndr/udrp-en
This is why we check to see if the name we're about to register is trademarked in the United States. You can search online at https://www.uspto.gov/trademarks-application-process/search-trademark-database
Also, we would not suggest using international characters in your domain name unless you can also register the domain name without the international characters in your domain name.
We also advise that you look at your domain name and see if any inappropriate or curse words are made in between the words you have strung together to make your domain name.
Too Long or Too Short
We advise that you try to find a domain name that fits your brand. If you use a bunch of words in your domain name, while it may fit your brand, it will be more difficult for someone to remember and type into their web browser (especially on a mobile device). If you use a name too short it might not fit your brand and a long acronym (which itself would be short) might be hard to remember.
If you want to prevent confusion, register the singular and plural versions of your domain name. You can also reorder the words in your domain name and see if those versions of your domain name are available. A tool to do this is available here. If there is a number in your domain name, check both the numerical version of the domain name (for example 4) and the spelled out version of the domain name (for example four).
If you register these variations, you can direct visitors of these variations of your domain name to your main website and you prevent another person or company (for example your competitors) from registering them.
Next, let's discuss how to develop your website.