- Registering a domain name is a critical step once you’ve decided to do business online.
- You must register a domain before you can use it.
- Domain names include a top-level domain, such as .com, and a subdomain that precedes the top-level domain.
- To maximize the visibility of your domain name, include keywords.
One of the first steps to take when bringing your business online is securing a domain name. A domain name is your website name and acts like a unique street address using words instead of IP addresses (a series of numbers). Domain name registration puts your business on the “online map” so you can identify your unique space on the internet and attract customers.
Each domain name includes a generic top-level domain (TLD), such as .com or .net, and a subdomain. For example, in NetworkSolutions.com, the TLD is .com, and the subdomain is NetworkSolutions. Together, they form a domain name used to locate a website.
You must register your domain before you can use it. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is responsible for domain names and grants domain name registrars the authority to register domain names. However, some ccTLDs are controlled by their country’s governing body. For example, the Libyan government controls the .LY domain extension.
When you go to register your desired domain name, you select a subdomain name and pair it with a TLD. Sometimes you might have to choose an alternative subdomain name or TLD if your first choice has already been taken.
When you register a domain, you get the right to use that domain for a certain period. It’s as if you are renting the space instead of owning it. So long as you pay the recurring registration fee upon renewal, you’ll have full rights to the domain.
Once you’ve registered your domain name, you can build a website associated with that domain name. If you aren’t ready to build a website, web hosting companies like Network Solutions will provide a placeholder page with the message that the site is “under construction.” In the meantime, you can set up an email address matched to your domain name or forward it to your LinkedIn or Facebook page, even without building a website. Using an email address linked with your domain name looks professional and lends credibility to your business.
Four Tips to Protect Your Domain Name
Because domain names are crucial to an online business, here are a few top tips for choosing and registering your domain.
- Include keywords or location in your domain name. To aid with search engine optimization and to make it easier for your customers to remember, include the most important keyword in your domain name. Sometimes that may be the name of a location if you have a local business.
- Ensure the business or business owner is named as the owner of the domain. Sometimes a web designer or other third party will put their name, not the business owner’s name, on the domain registration. This is a critical error because the person who is named on the domain registration obtains the rights to the domain. It is imperative that the business or business owner is listed on the registration so that no one else can redirect the domain to another website, shut it down or sell it.
- Set up auto-renewal. You don’t want your domain name registration to lapse; if it does, there’s an aftermarket where someone else could snap up the right to use your domain name. Renew your domain name registration by setting up an auto-renewal or buying a registration for a long period (5 or 10 years). Some providers protect your domain name if you can’t renew on time.
- Register similar TLDs for your subdomain. You can protect the integrity of your business and its online reputation by registering multiple TLDs for your subdomain. For example, you can register not only the .com address but also the .co, .net, .biz and other extensions associated with your subdomain name. By registering multiple TLD extensions, you ensure that no one else can capitalize on your brand.
Finally, be sure you choose a reputable domain name provider. Look for a stable company with a stellar track record of working with companies like yours.
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