How to Buy a Domain Name: A Simple Guide to Get You Started
A domain name is essentially a digital address – it’s what people will type into their browsers to access your website. You can buy a domain name from a domain name registrar or hosting provider by visiting a domain registrar, finding the domain you want to purchase, and following the instructions to buy it.
Keep in mind that buying a domain name is one of the most critical steps of starting a blog, personal site, or online business. Without one, users would not be able to easily access your website on the internet.
Luckily, the process to register a domain name is quite straightforward – even beginners can complete it in a few minutes.
This article will explain each of the simple steps to register a domain name and present some tips and tricks to ease the process.
Check out this video on how to register a domain name:
How to Buy a Domain Name in 5 Steps
Before we go any further, it’s worth noting that it’s only possible to register an existing domain name with a valid domain extension that other people or businesses don’t already own.
We’re going to dive deeper into the steps to register a domain name – from finding a trusted registrar through which to buy a website’s address to finally getting into the registration process.
Here are the five steps to buy a domain:
1. Find a Credible Domain Registrar
A domain registrar is a company that is responsible for registering and managing domain names. It’s accredited by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a non-profit organization that controls the rules and regulations of domain name registration.
Choosing a reliable domain registrar is crucial because it can impact a project or business for years. Pick the wrong one and you might end up paying hidden fees or even get scammed. For example, there have been cases where a domain registrar pressures users into purchasing domain names similar to the ones they hold under false pretenses.
It can be challenging to pick from hundreds of domain registrars out there as they all offer similar services. Therefore, consider the following when choosing a registrar:
- Pricing. Before making a purchase, make sure to read the registrar’s terms of service and check for any hidden domain costs. Also, avoid registrars that offer low upfront fees for the first registration year but charge significantly higher renewal rates.
- Domain expiration policy. It’s crucial to renew a domain name before its expiration date to prevent other people from registering it. Thus, pick a registrar with auto-renewal and reminder features.
- Add-on services. Look for domain registrars that provide other valuable add-ons such as domain privacy or domain parking.
- Domain transfer policy. It’s possible to move domain names from one registrar to another, but some of them might make the process difficult or charge extra fees. Make sure to review the registrar’s domain transfer policy before making a purchase.
As we mentioned earlier, people can also purchase a custom domain from a hosting company that offers domain registration services, like Hostinger.
Since having a web hosting plan and domain name is essential to make a website, it may be more convenient to purchase and maintain them together at the same place.
Here at Hostinger, we offer low upfront and renewal costs for the most popular domain names and a dedicated 24/7 support team ready to assist you.
If you buy a domain name at Hostinger, it’s also possible to activate domain privacy protection. This feature can help hide specific details from being discovered through a WHOIS lookup.
What’s more, we have a domain checker – the perfect tool to check the availability of domains.
Domain Name Checker
Instantly check domain name availability.
2. Run a Domain Name Search
Now that you have found a registrar through which to register your domain, the next step is to perform a domain name search.
When choosing a domain name, make sure to pick the right domain extension as well – it’s the suffix at the end of a web address. Domain name extensions are also referred to as top-level domains (TLDs).
There are different types of domain extensions available, such as:
- Country Code Top-Level Domain (ccTLD). This kind of TLD represents a specific country, letting both users and search engines know that a site is designed for visitors from a particular region. An example of this is the .us domain, which is the ccTLD for the United States.
- Sponsored Top-Level Domain (sTLD). It’s a type of TLD restricted to certain types of groups and organizations. Some of sTLD examples include .mil, .gov, and .edu.
- Generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD). It’s the most common type of TLD – it doesn’t rely on a country code and can be used for general purposes. A few examples of gTLDs include .com, .org, and .net.
When deciding on the extension that is suitable for your domain, look for a TLD that represents the purpose of your website. Choosing the wrong suffix can confuse visitors and make your brand name prone to being misinterpreted.
For example, a .com or .biz extension might be best for an eCommerce business. On the other hand, if you plan to create a blog to keep an online journal, an extension like .me can be an excellent solution.
Once you know what domain and extension to use, use our domain checker to find your desired domain name. Enter the name into the search bar and the tool will present you with a list of available domains. It will also display more extension and title suggestions, showing a wide range of domain ideas.
If your desired web address is taken, consider reaching out to the owner of that particular domain and offering a fair price for that name. Use the WHOIS tool to find that person’s information, like their phone number or professional email address.
Before purchasing the name, however, use an escrow service to facilitate the deal on your end. Escrow refers to the practice of hiring a third party to hold payments until contractual obligations have been fulfilled. Doing so can protect you against fraud and deception.
3. Pick Your Domain
After finding the best domain name for your project, it’s time to proceed with the checkout.
During this step, you’ll also need to choose the domain registration period. Registrars offer a variety of durations – from one to ten years. Before the initial registration period ends, the registrar will alert you to renew it.
Also, domain registration companies typically require users to pay for a minimum period of one year. However, other registrars might have a longer minimum registration period, like two years.
To purchase a domain at Hostinger, continue the process from the domain checker page and press the Add to cart button next to the domain. Then, click Continue to cart.
From the shopping cart window, select the Period drop-down list and choose the registration period. Here, you can also choose to add the privacy protection add-on. Click the Checkout Now button to finish the order.
The next step is to log in or create an account to complete the payment process.
With that taken care of, continue the checkout process and choose a payment processor.
Provide your billing information and review the order. Then, finish the domain purchase.
4. Complete the Domain Registration
As soon as you have completed the payment, you’ll be redirected to the control panel. Inside, there will be a setup box that you’ll need to fill out to complete the domain name registration.
You’ll need to fill in all the fields with the correct details, such as your name, address, and contact information. This data will be stored on WHOIS, the official domain ownership database.
After submitting your details, the domain registration will be processed.
It’s possible to modify the domain ownership details using the domain management section within the control panel. Once the changes are made, you will have to confirm them via email.
5. Verify the Ownership of Your New Domain
The final step is to verify the domain ownership through the email address you used when registering the domain. The email usually arrives within a few minutes after finishing the domain setup. Simply click the verification link in the email to verify your contact information.
If the email doesn’t arrive, resend the request from the control panel. We recommend doing it immediately, as waiting for 15 days or more will lead to a temporary suspension from the registry.
That’s all there is to it. Now you know how to buy a domain name and complete the initial registration process.
Tip from Darius
To make the most out of your newly acquired domain, consider authorizing it with the Google Search Console. This will provide you with important analytical insights and make it easier for Google to crawl the content of your site.
First, log into your Google account and head to the Search Console page. If you want your entire domain (including all subdomains and protocols) to be crawled, enter the URL in the bar on the left. Once that’s done, click Continue and you’ll be presented with a code. Then, copy it and do not close the tab.
Now, log into your Hostinger account, head to the hPanel, and on to the DNS Zone Editor. Under Manage DNS Records, select TXT as the Type. Unless you’re only adding a specific subdomain to the Search Console, leave @ as the Name. Next, copy the code you’ve received previously as the TXT Value. We recommend leaving the TTL Value as the default. To finish it all off, click on Add Record.
After a few minutes, return to the Search Console tab that you’ve left open and click Verify. If a green message that reads Ownership Verified shows up, you’ve successfully added your domain to the Google Search Console. If you receive an error instead, it means that the record did not get propagated yet and you’ll have to wait.
15 Best Tips Before Buying a Domain Name
Having a good domain name is essential since it can add extra credibility to a website, spread brand awareness, and ensure that users can find you on the internet. That’s why it’s crucial to dedicate some time to research before choosing the right domain name for your site.
Here are 15 tips to review before deciding on a domain name:
- Study your niche. Being aware of the most popular keywords and search terms in a niche will help you find a domain name that fits your project.
- Aim for a short and memorable domain. A catchy and short name is easier to spell and type than a long one. It will also increase the chances of visitors remembering the website name. Thus, aim to create a name with six to 14 characters.
- Go with .com if possible. The .com extension is currently the most popular top-level domain, so consider starting with this suffix since most web users will easily recognize it.
- Check for trademark infringement. To avoid any legal issues, try not to register a domain similar to popular, well-established brands. Use a registered trademark lookup tool to steer clear of such situations.
- Avoid numbers and hyphens. URLs with numbers and hyphens are harder to remember and type. It’s also challenging to communicate a name with spaces or numbers verbally. Stick to a domain made up of a single word or a set of words instead.
- Look for close alternatives. If you already have a domain name in mind, consider buying the common mistyped variations to ensure all the potential traffic reaches you. A great example is amzon.com, which takes visitors to the main Amazon website, or fb.com, which goes directly to Facebook.
- Research social media platforms. Once you have a rough idea of your domain name, look it up on popular social media platforms like Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. Reserve a page for your project to prevent other people from taking the name.
- Think future-proof. Domains are a long-term investment. That’s why basing the name on a catchphrase that’s overhyped at this moment might not be the best approach in the long run. Therefore, consider where your business or brand might be in five or ten years before picking a domain name.
- Avoid double letters. Try not to use double letters in the domain since it can increase the chances of people misspelling the name, resulting in lost traffic.
- Leverage a domain name generator. Find more ideas with a domain name generator. Simply enter a word or phrase that describes your project, and it will give you a list of suggestions. Also, use other tools like Thesaurus to avoid using a word whose meaning you may have misinterpreted.
- Choose a premium domain. Premium domains are high-value names with the potential to become popular web addresses that offer strong branding opportunities. Consider purchasing a premium domain to rank high on search engines and get organic traffic fast.
- Check the domain’s history. Ensure the domain wasn’t associated with a fake website by utilizing a tool like the Wayback Machine. It will help you find information about the background of a domain and see who its previous owners were.
- Consider using local TLDs. Using a ccTLD can help a site acquire more traffic through localization.
- Opt for a new domain extension. Consider using a new gTLD such as .xyz, which is also used by Alphabet Inc., the parent company of Google. It’s one of the most popular new extensions that suit almost any project, from online shops to event pages. This suffix is also more affordable than the .com TLD.
- Discuss your ideas. If picking the right name for your website feels like a daunting task, consider presenting your ideas to friends, family, or colleagues. They might give you the piece of advice that you’re looking for.
Domain Name Pricing Table
At Hostinger, we offer over 100 unique TLDs and that number is constantly growing. The prices displayed are for 12 months and they start as low as 99 cents for the first year.
Prices do not include VAT.
Most popular domains:
Tip from Domantas
Save money on domains by finding web hosting services with free domain names.
For instance, our Premium shared web hosting plan that costs $2.59/month offers a free domain name for the first year of subscription. If you choose the .net TLD, purchasing this hosting service lets you save $12.99 for the first year.
What’s more, this plan also comes with a free SSL certificate, which is essential for protecting a website.
When Should I Buy a Domain Name?
The best time to register a domain depends on your project and urgency. However, it’s better to purchase it right away before a competitor claims the address.
According to Verisign, there were over 363 million domain registrations across all TLDs at the end of the first quarter of 2021. This figure is likely to grow each year as the number of people and businesses that compete to get a great domain name is increasing.
Moreover, many entrepreneurs consider domain names to be digital assets – they buy plenty of good URLs as investments and wait for their value to increase before reselling them further down the road.
If you want to start a new online business but have no time to build an eCommerce site, then register a domain now and make a website later to reserve your brand or business name for the future. A domain name will be yours as long as you keep paying for it.
Also, consider purchasing a domain that includes your name even if you’re not ready to create a personal website or portfolio yet. Doing this can give you control of what potential clients, employers, and other people see when they search for you on search engines.
All in all, purchasing a domain name should be a priority for those who are serious about building an online presence or starting a new business. It will help protect a brand’s identity and future business ideas.
Can I Transfer My Domain Name to Hostinger?
Yes, it’s possible to transfer a domain name from another registrar to Hostinger.
However, there are a few requirements before transferring a domain to your web hosting account:
- More than 60 days must have passed from the registration or last transfer date.
- You must have the domain’s auth-code (EPP) from your current registrar.
- The domain’s WHOIS privacy protection has to be disabled.
- You have to point your domain name to Hostinger.
- The domain’s status cannot be Pending Delete or Redemption.
To transfer a domain to Hostinger, go to the Hostinger Transfer Domain page and enter your domain name. Then click Transfer.
After finishing the order and entering the domain EPP code, the transfer process will begin and you’ll receive an email regarding the domain transfer that you will have to confirm.
The domain registration will also be renewed for a year after the transfer, except for ccTLDs like .es, .co.uk, or .com.br.
Keep in mind that your website might be unavailable during the DNS changes, which can take up to 24 hours to propagate fully.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now that you’ve learned how to buy a domain name, we’ll provide the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions.
What’s a Domain Name?
Each website and server on the internet has its own IP address used to identify it. IP addresses are long strings of numbers, which can be difficult for users to remember.
A domain name acts as a user-friendly substitute for an IP address – it is the URL or online address of your website. If people want to visit your site, they will type your domain name into the address bar of a browser.
The structure of domain names consists of two main parts – a second-level domain (SLD), which is usually the site’s or brand name, and a TLD like .com or .org. As an example, Hostinger’s domain name is hostinger.com.
You can learn more about domain names here
How Can I Get a Free Domain for .com?
You only need to register for any of the web hosting plans that offer a free domain name. However, make sure the value is enough for you to buy the .com TLD.
For example, if you sign up for Hostinger’s Premium or Business shared hosting plans, you will get a free domain for one year with the value equivalent of a .com TLD.
Can I Buy a Domain Name Without Hosting?
Yes, you can. Domain registration and web hosting are two different services. You don’t need to buy or have a hosting plan to register a domain name.
Check if your preferred domain name is available, then buy and register it at a domain name registrar.
Whether you have a website or not, the domain name will be yours as long as you renew the registration before it expires.
How Do I Permanently Buy a Domain Name?
It’s not possible to permanently own a domain name since it’s not a one-time purchase – the maximum period of registration is ten years. You will need to pay and renew your subscription if you want to keep using the same domain name.
This is to cover the maintenance costs or “domain tax” collected by the ICANN.
As the number of registered domains grows, the tax increases. Hence, registrars need to adjust their pricing accordingly, which is why the renewal fees are more costly than the registration prices.
The real challenge of buying domain names is coming up with the perfect domain name and picking the right extension. Once that’s done, the domain registration process only takes a few minutes.
To recap, here are the five steps to register a domain name:
- Find a credible domain registrar. Spend time researching before choosing a domain registrar to ensure your domain is in good hands.
- Run a domain name search. Use a domain checker to find the domain you want to buy.
- Pick your domain. Choose a domain registration period and proceed with the checkout.
- Complete the domain registration. Submit your contact information which will be stored on WHOIS.
- Verify the ownership of your new domain. Verify your domain ownership and wait for the domain name to propagate before starting to use it.
Since it’s possible to buy domain names before creating a website, consider purchasing a domain right away before a competitor takes it.
We hope this article helped you learn how to register a domain name for your website. In case you have any additional questions, let us know in the comments.