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How to register a domain name

Registering a domain name is easy – if you know how.

Nowadays, when you’re thinking about starting a business, choosing and registering a domain name for your website is a job to take on as early as possible. It’s one of those seemingly minor things that can ultimately become a significant problem if you don’t plan it properly. Here, we look at why it’s important, and all the steps you need to take to get it right.

Choosing your domain name

Ideally, you’ll want your domain name to match the name of your business. But, unsurprisingly, that might not be possible.

Your domain name should be simple. Your website is your online address, and a vital source of information for your customers. The shorter and simpler it is, the easier it will be for your customers to find and remember you.

It must, however, be unique. If possible, including a ‘keyword’ in your domain – something that directly relates to what you do or where you’re based – could also be very beneficial. It’s also best to avoid dashes, hyphens and abbreviations – word of mouth will spread far more easily if people don’t have to spell out the specifics of your web address.

Finally, you’ll need to think about the suffix you want – a .com, or something else like .net. Chances are, you’ll have more chance of securing the domain name you want with a less common suffix. But then again, a less common suffix is normally less memorable.

So, weigh up some different options and work out what matters to you most before you begin searching for what’s available.

Registering your domain name

When you have an idea of the name you want (and ideally, come armed with a few alternative versions), head to Nominet, the official registry for UK domain names. Here, you’ll be able to see whether your name is available.

Once that’s worked out, you’ll need a registrar. A quick Google search will tell you there are a huge number to choose from, but choose carefully.

Some companies will offer to register your name for a small fee, but offer no additional services. Meanwhile, other companies might offer to host your website as well as registering your domain name. There may be additional extras too, like email addresses and the option to host further sites.

Nominet has a list of approved registrars which you can access here.

Once you’ve chosen, the process is normally swift and simple, taking between one and three days.

How much does a domain name cost?

The cost of a domain name varies wildly, but the amount you’ll have to pay is very much in your hands.

The amount of services your registrar offers will affect the price, and it is possible to register certain names for free – although it’s unlikely that a free name will be a particularly good one. But even at the higher end, registering a domain name shouldn’t break the bank.

It’s worth also noting that if a domain name already exists, you may still be able to obtain it if you’re really eager to. Firstly, it may be inactive and up for renewal, in which case you may be able to purchase it at a later date. But secondly, you could try to find the owner and ask them if they’re interested in selling the domain. This is quite common, but you’ll need to get a clear idea of what you’re willing to pay before you negotiate a fee.

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