Understanding How to Register Domain Names

Choosing and registering a domain name properly is a crucial component of building your online business and creating a website that will be popular and profitable. In essence, the domain name will be the face of your web site, and the first thing people remember when they think of your site, so it is important to get it right the first time around. It is, however, important to realize that a domain name does not necessarily have to have a site attached to it, as it can be parked (dormant) with nothing on it for as long as the owner desires.

Unfortunately, domain names cannot be purchased indefinitely with a single payment, as they are registered instead. When you register a domain name, you obtain that domain for a certain period of time, after which you must renew the registration in order to remain the owner of the domain. The following information describes the process of registering a domain name.

Where to Register Domain Names

Domain names are registered at domain registrars, which are companies that are accredited with the right to offer domain name registration and communicate with the DNS database. Most web hosting companies also offer domain registration services, and it is often possible to acquire a free domain name when you purchase a hosting plan. Aged domain names can also be registered through third party auction sites and domain brokers.

If you’re trying to get instant search engine ranking and boost your chances of success, then there are many advantages to purchasing an aged domain name. For example, aged domain names will often retain some of the SEO benefits established by the previous owners, such as backlinks and page rank. The following information provides essential tips for registering a domain name.

Choosing a TLD

Choosing a good TLD, or domain extension, is an important aspect of registering a successful domain name. The extension is simply the letters that appear after the main name of the domain (i.e. – .com, .org, .net etc). Although most people attempt to register a .com domain name because it is the most popular and successful domain extension, it may not always be possible to find a suitable name for your online business that utilizes this common extension.

If you’re unable to find the domain name you like with a .com extension, consider trying .org, .net, .co, or .info, as all of these have the ability and tendency to rank just as highly as .com domains. If you purchase several domain extensions at once for the same domain name it is possible to receive a discount on the additional domains. For example, you may be offered a bundle deal in which you receive example.com, example.net, and example.org for a low discounted price.

It is important to note that the cost of the domain name will be directly related to the extension you choose, with .com domains often costing $10 for one year of registration, and .info domains costing less than $5 for a year of registration. Surprisingly, .info domains have the ability to be just as successful as .com domains if used correctly.

Choosing the Length of Registration

Domain registration periods typically range from one year to 10 years, and the cost of the registration will be directly affected by how long you choose to lease the domain. In most cases, a registrar will offer you the options of one, three, fine or 10 years, although you may have more options, depending on which registrar you use.

Most people register domains for one year at a time, however domain speculators and professional domain buyers will register the domain for longer periods to ensure maximum length of ownership and market leverage.

Private Registration

When you register a domain name, all of the information you give the registrar will be published in an open public database called the WHOis database. Anyone can find out who the owner of any domain name is using this database, and it does not cost a penny to use. Fortunately, if you would like to keep your registration and ownership details private (some of which include your address, phone number, and full name), you may opt for private registration during the checkout process. This option typically costs about $5-$10 extra, however some registrars provide this service for free.

Domain Certification

You also have the option of obtaining domain certification when registering your domain. This will give you adequate documentation that lets you prove ownership of the domain in case of a dispute. Domain certification typically costs about $2 to $5 depending on the registrar, and is advisable if you plan on using the site for business purposes. Domain certificates can be printed, signed and notarized in order to provide the drain owner with sufficient documentation of ownership.

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How to Judge the Value of a Domain Name

Choosing the right domain name is a central component to building a successful online business, regardless of your niche or industry. Your domain name will represent your brand, and will ultimately be what people remember the most about your site. Everyday thousands of new domain names are registered, making it more difficult to find a suitable name for online endeavors. However, as each opportunity is seized, new ones open up for diligent webmasters.

People choose domain names for many reasons, some of which are frivolous, and some of which are common misconceptions. Knowing how to judge the intrinsic value of a domain name is the best way to choose name for your site that will prove to be profitable and ideal.

In essence, there are three main aspects of a domain that contribute to its value – keyword optimization, memorability, and the overall value of the site itself. The following information elaborates on these important attributes, as well as other key factors, in order to draw a clear picture of how to judge the value of a domain name.

Domain Name Length

The length of a domain name plays an important role in its memorability, as people are much less likely to member a domain name that contains more than three words. Thus, the most valuable domains and web site typically consist of less than 8 letters and are terms that are easily remembered. In fact, some of the most successful web sites ever are actually short made-up terms that were coined by the web site owner – i.e. Google, eBay, Yahoo etc.

If the domain name is short, then it instantly carries value, because statistically there are not a lot of short domain names left. This is especially true if the domain has a popular extension (TLD), like .com or .org, as these generally rank better in the search engines. Longer domain names are of less value, however if some of the following factors are strong then the length of the domain name may be overlooked.

Keyword Optimization

Although short, made-up terms are amongst the most successful domain names, the chances of you finding and acquiring one of these domain names for less than a few thousand dollars is slim. Thus, a more practical approach to obtaining a valuable domain name would be to register domains that contain popular keyword phrases.

Any time a domain name contains a  commonly searched for keyword, the value of that domain instantly increases because it has an inherent tendency to receive search engine traffic, even if there is very little content on the site. Domain names with ‘exact match’ keyword phrases are sought after by webmasters and online entrepreneurs on a daily basis, so if you own such a domain name it is very likely that you’ll be able to sell it for at least a  small profit. Many people utilize keyword research tools in order to find relatively untapped keyword traffic sources, and then use these keywords to find a relevant domain name.

Commercial Value

Another aspect that contributes to the value of a domain name is the commercial value of the keywords or phrases it contains or pertains to. This concept is based on the fact that certain products, service, industries or niches are more likely to attract ‘buying visitors’ than others. For example, if your site is related to a historical event that is being searched for a lot, then it is probably less valuable than a domain name that contains keywords relevant to a popular new product that is a hot seller. Thus, even though the site may bring in lots of web traffic, there is no guarantee that this traffic will convert to sales or advertising dollars, which is one of the main components of receiving a return on your domain name investment.

Domain Syntax

The domain syntax, or arrangement of letters and numbers that the domain consist of, is also incredibly important as well. Domain names that contain a lot of hyphens, although easier to read when containing multiple words, are not preferred for search engine optimization purposes. Domain names that use numbers in place of words (i.e. 2 instead of two, or 4 instead of four), are also less desirable, because when people execute search queries they do not use this kind of slang to type in keywords. Thus, choosing a domain name that contains less than four words, no hyphens, and no numbers is the best way to ensure instant value for your web site and its search engine ranking.

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Understanding the Workings of a Domain Name

It is common internet knowledge that a domain name is fundamentally the main web address of a web site. However, there is a lot more going on behind the scenes that most webmaster never consider. If you want to be a professional webmaster, you’ll need to have a solid understanding of how domain names work.

In essence, a domain name is actually a text representation of an IP (Internet protocol) address. Every device connected to the internet (I.E – your computer, cell phone etc) is assigned an IP address, including your web site. Before domain names were invented you would have to type in the IP address of a web site in order to access. Obviously, remembering a string of numbers separated by dots (i.e. – 127.07.05.378) is much more difficult than remembering a simple name, so the DNS (Domain Name System) was devised, which connects the IP address of every domain to a domain name. The following information elaborates on the DNS and how domain names work in general.

The Three Levels of a Domain Name

Every domain name is split into three levels, each of which represent a different part of the domain name. The first level, better known as the ‘top-level domain’  or ‘TLD’ is the domain extension (i.e. – .com, .org, .net etc). The bottom level of the domain is the part that contains ‘www’, and this is typically the same for all public web sites. There are also ccTLDs (country code top level domains) that represent a specific region of the world. For example, .com.au would be used for an Australian web site, while .co.uk would be used for a web site based in the United Kingdom.

Generic top level domains usually contain two, three or four letters, such as .com , .org, .net, .info or .co. Genric ccTLDs usually contain two letters after .com or .co, such as .co.in (India). A complete list of all TLDs can be found on the official web site of IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority).

Domain Name Syntax

The syntax, or spelling of a domain name is governed by certain rules and regulations. Most domain registrars will not allow the length of a domain name to exceed more than 60 words, and the domain name must be at least 2 characters long. Domain names can contain any combination of hyphens, numbers, and letters, but may not utilize another symbols, and may not have two hyphens in a row. The first or last characters in a domain name cannot be hyphens either.

Domain Names and IP Addresses

When you visit a domain you’re actually connecting with the IP address of the web site directly. When a domain name is registered and then associated with a hosting account, it is also associated with name servers and an IP address. A web site cannot be live on the internet without its own IP address, and although it is rarely done, it is possible to access a web site simply by typing in its IP address. The DNS is the massive database that connects all domain names with IP addresses, and it is maintained and regulated by several governing authorities and organizations, including the ICANN and IANA.

Registering a Domain Name

Domains are registered with domain registrars, which are accredited by ICANN to register domains within the domain name system. When you purchase a domain name, you’re actually registering it for a specific period of time with one of these registrars or a partner of an accredited registrar.

After the registration period is over, you usually have 60 days to renew a domain name, after which it returns to the open market where it may be registered by anyone for a regular price. Fortunately, the domain registrar will send you several email notifications before the domain expires, so you have an ample opportunity to renew the domain. Registering a domain name does not require any special skills or prerequisites, and most people can complete the process within just a few minutes.

It is important to note that copyright laws due apply to domain registration, so you are not allowed to register domain names that contain copyrighted terms. Doing so may result in loss of the domain name and/or a costly lawsuit.

Domain Names and Name Servers

Every domain name is associated with two name servers, which are provided by the hosting provider or domain registrar. When the domain name is first registered it is parked on the name servers of the registrar, however in order to associate it with your hosting account you have to point the domain to one of your hosting provider’s name servers. Name servers addresses appear as NS1.nameserver.com and NS1.nameserver.com. The actual address of the nameserver will vary depending on the hosting provider.

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What is Domain Forwarding and How is it Used?

Creating a web site can be a difficult and time consuming process, especially if you are not sure what you want the domain name to be. Choosing the wrong domain name results in a lot of frustration, primarily because you’re stuck in a predicament that is seemingly without a solution. After you’ve chosen a name and built your site around it, there is very little you can do to reverse the mistake effectively. Some people completely abandon the project altogether and purchase a new domain name, starting from scratch unnecessarily, while others copy all of the files from the old domain to the new domain name, not realizing what type of impact it can have on their search engine ranking.

One way of reversing the headache of choosing the wrong domain name is to use a process called domain forwarding. The following information elaborates o this concept while teaching you how to use it most effectively.

What is Domain Forwarding?

Domain forwarding is the process of forwarding one domain to another, so that when a certain web address is typed into the browser, the user is automatically forwarded to another site. Thus, if your web site’s domain name is “example.com” and you would like to start using the web site name “newexample.com,” you could simply forward the latter domain to the old domain name, and your visitors would be able to access your web site via the new domain name (although the old domain name would still be visible in the address bar when they arrive at the site).

Domain forwarding is a free and standard feature with most web hosting accounts, and anyone can usually set up the process with relative ease within just a couple of minutes. Using this method is ideal in comparison to other methods of changing a sites name, as it is much quicker and requires less effort.

Mass File Transfers – The Long and Hard Way

There is, however, another way to change the name of your web site, but it will take much longer if you want to do it correctly. If you do not do it correctly you could greatly hinder and/or damage the search engine ranking of the new site due to duplicate content penalties. The method is simple, yet time consuming – buy a new domain name, make a complete backup of the old domain, request that the old domain is de-indexed, wait for complete de-indexing to occur, and then copy the backup over to the new domain.

Doing this will completely remove your old domain form the internet, and give you a fresh new start. However, it can take quite a while for an entire site to be de-indexed from all search engines, especially if you have hundreds or thousands of pages de-indexed, In such a case, this method would be completely impractical. If you do not wait until the old site is completely de-indexed, the new site may suffer from duplicate content penalties, because it will be a carbon copy of the old site. Domain forwarding is the fast and easy way to avoid such a lengthy and drawn out process.

Diversified Marketing and Additional Domains

Another reason why domain forwarding is used is to diversify marketing efforts by having several domains point to a single web site. This lets the site owner distribute links across the internet that appear to be different web sites, which may be more appealing to specific audiences. For example, the site owner may want to market his hosting company, which is branded under several names. Each brand may be targeted towards as specific sector of the market (I.E. VPS, Dedicated, reseller etc). The site owner could own a domain for each sector of his hosting business, but each domain name would link to the same hosting site. This could potentially increase click through rates and improve conversion of the site owner.

Webmasters also use domain forwarding to make use of old or additional domains that are parked. Instead of simply letting the domain name sit, they capitalize on every opportunity by forwarding these dormant domains to a related site of theirs that is currently up and running.

Difference Between URL Redirection

It is important to distinguish the difference between domain forwarding and URL redirection. URL redirection is the process of forwarding a visitor from one page on a web site, to another page on the same site. Whereas domain forwarding is the practice of instantly sending the visitor from the home page of one site, to the home page of an entirely different site. It is also important to note that you must own both domains in order to forward one domain to another, as you’ll need administrative rights.

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Knowing When to Use ccTLDs

A TLD (top level domain), also referred to as a ‘domain extension’ is the last part of the main section of a domain name. For example, in the domain name ‘example.com’, the TLD would be ‘.com’. Although .com, .org and .net are amongst the most popular TLDs, there are literally hundreds available to choose from.

The majority of the TLDs available are actual ccTLDs (country code top level domains), which are designed to be used for site that are based in specific geographical regions. Choosing a proper TLD can be beneficial for your site, and eliminate the possibility of having to find another domain name that is more suitable later on. The following information elaborates on the slew of country code TLDs, explaining when it is best to use such domain extensions.

Local Markets

Perhaps the most common reason why ccTLDs are utilized is to establish a local online presence for a company to increase the sale of products or services. In most cases, people tend to trust companies that are locally based, especially if they are buying products that have return policies. Buying form a closer supplier gives people the opportunity to save on shipping, and in general individuals tend to be more trusting of companies within their own country.

Choosing a ccTLD in the area of the world where your market is thriving can help you solicit customers from that region with less effort because your site will tend to rank higher in those areas. Most major search engines like Google have various versions that are used in different countries – i.e. Google.co.in (India’s Google). Ranking highly in these international search engines is easier if your site has the appropriate ccTLD. It is important to note, however, that international domain names do appear in the main version of Google and other search engines, as well, but they are much more prevalently ranked in their native search engines.

High Availability of Better Domain Names

Another advantage to using country code TLDs is the opportunity to find better domain names due to relatively untapped international markets. For example, finding the domain name ‘populardomainname.com’ may not be likely, but you stand a much greater chance of obtaining the domain name “populardomainname.co.in.” This gives you a chance to capitalize on keyword-specific domains in other countries where these keywords may be just as commonly searched as in other parts of the world.

With the number of good domain names decreasing by the day, finding the right name is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain. By utilizing country code TLDs, you can begin registering premium domain names in other countries, without spending a lot of money to do so.

Expanding Outreach

Another way to use ccTLDs is to purchase a version of your site’s domain name in all of the regions that you’re having success in.  For example, if you own a web hosting site called ‘webhostingsite’com”and your gaining a lot of traffic from Australia, you may want to consider purchasing the domain name ‘webhostingsite.com.au” to maximize your market potential in that region of the world. You can also use this concept to expand into markets that you’ve never even tested. With the profitability of international trade in a global market, it would be foolish not to maximize your international efforts and bring your brand to other countries using ccTLDs.

Most Popular ccTLDs

Most of the ccTLDs bought today consist of .com.au, .co.uk, .co.in, and .co.cn web sites. Choosing one of these TLDs is the ideal way to begin expanding your business into international territories, and it is recommended that you try these markets before moving to other ccTLDs. The .com.au and .co.uk are especially beneficial because they tend to appear in the conventional Google search engine much more prevalently because they are formatted in English.

The New Commercial ccTLD

One ccTLD in particular that has garnered a lot of attention is  the .co domain extension. This ccTLD was originally used to represent sites based in Columbia, however after a recommendation from the University of Columbia, registrars everywhere began marketing it is an alternative for the ever-so popular .com domains. Since then, many of the major sites online have purchased their own .co site, with Twitter acquiring T.CO, and Overstock.com buying O.CO.

This new commercial ccTLD provides a plethora of opportunities for webmasters looking for good domain names, as the .com market is relatively untapped in comparison to the counterpart .com market. If you’re interest in investing in the future of the internet, you may want to consider buying a .co domain for your company, while they last.

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