How to Buy a Domain Name in 5 Simple Steps + Domain Selection Tips
Learning how to buy a domain name and how to come up with one are some of the most important steps in creating a website. This is because a good domain name makes it easier for people to visit and remember your site.
The process of selecting and purchasing the perfect domain name may seem daunting at first. However, this guide will show you how simple it actually is when you follow some best practices.
We will explain what to consider before buying a domain name, how to buy a domain name, and how to purchase a domain name that is already taken. Additionally, we will offer information on domain name pricing and guide you on what to do after buying the domain name.
We hope this article can help you select, purchase, and register your new domain name with ease. Let’s begin.
What to Consider Before Buying a Domain Name
Before registering and purchasing a domain name, consider the following factors to ensure you select the perfect website address for your online project.
Make It Short and Memorable
Choose a catchy domain name that is easy to read, spell, type, and pronounce. A short and memorable domain helps lower the risk of people mistyping or forgetting the address. These types of domain names also make for easier word-of-mouth promotion and look more professional on both offline and digital marketing materials.
In addition, make sure it is not too lengthy – try aiming somewhere between six and 14 characters. Avoid using numbers, double letters, and hyphens, as they are harder to remember and type.
Use a Domain Name Generator
If you’re struggling to come up with potential domain names, try using domain name generators. Simply give the generator some keywords to work with, and the tool will come up with domain name suggestions with varying keyword combinations and domain extensions.
You also get other useful information, such as domain availability and pricing. Some great domain generators include the Hostinger Domain Checker and Nameboy.
Domain Name Checker
Instantly check domain name availability.
Check for Trademark Infringement
If you plan to create a new online business, your domain name should ideally be the same as or similar to your company name. This helps customers remember your business and domain names simultaneously instead of memorizing two separate names.
It is also wise to check for copyright infringement before choosing a domain name. Look up your desired business name on trademark databases to ensure they don’t already belong to another entity.
Be aware that if you use a trademarked name for your domain, the trademark owner may file a lawsuit against you. In addition to possible monetary losses, registering a trademarked name for your domain can be harmful to your business’ reputation.
A domain name is a long-term commitment. Ideally, your domain should stay the same for five or even 10 years in the future, or as long as your business runs. Changing a domain name years after launching a website may negatively impact site traffic, branding, and sales conversions.
To avoid changing your domain in the near future, try not to incorporate references that are only relevant for a short period of time. For example, avoid using currently popular catchphrases or pop culture references as they may be irrelevant and look outdated in a few years.
One way to come up with the perfect domain name is to build from common phrases that appear within your industry. Usually, two-syllable phrases are the easiest for users to remember. Think Twitter and Facebook.
At GoodHire, we wanted to build a platform for easier and more flexible background check
services, helping employers make good hires. By working backwards to identify the ideal outcome of our service, the name came naturally. After performing the same process yourself, you’ll be left with a catchy name that reflects what you do and who you serve.
How to Buy a Domain Name – Video Tutorial
Check out this video on how to buy a domain name if you want a more visual guide:
How to Buy a Domain Name in 5 Simple Steps
Before we go any further, remember that it’s only possible to register a domain name with a valid domain extension that other people or businesses don’t already own.
In this section, we’re going to dive deeper into the methods to buy a domain name – from where to get one to the registration process. Here are the five steps for purchasing domain names.
1. Find a Credible Domain Registrar
A registrar is a company responsible for registering and managing domain names. It’s accredited by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a non-profit organization regulating website domain name registrations.
Choosing a reliable registrar is crucial because it can impact your online project or business website for years. Picking the wrong one means you might end up paying hidden fees or even getting scammed. For example, a disreputable company may trick users into switching from their existing registrars under the pretense of domain renewal.
It can be challenging to pick from hundreds of registrars as they all offer similar services. Therefore, consider the following aspects to select a reliable domain registrar for your needs:
- Pricing. Before making a website domain purchase, make sure to read the registrar’s terms of service and check for any hidden domain costs.
- Domain expiration policy. It’s crucial to renew a domain name before its expiration date to prevent other people from registering it. To avoid this issue, pick a registrar that gives you payment reminders or offers an automatic domain renewal option.
- Add-on services. Look for domain registrars providing 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.
Aside from dedicated registrars, you can also purchase a custom domain from a hosting company offering domain name registration services, like Hostinger.
In order to streamline the website-making process, it is more convenient to buy web hosting and a domain name from the same provider. This means you won’t need to perform any domain transfers or manually connect the domain to the hosting account.
2. Run a Domain Name Search
Now that you have found a registrar or web hosting provider to purchase your domain, the next step is to look up the domain availability via a domain search.
When choosing the right domain name, make sure to pick an appropriate extension as well, which is 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 type of TLD represents a specific country, letting users and search engines know that a site is designed for visitors from a particular region. An example is the .us extension – the ccTLD for the United States.
- Sponsored Top-Level Domain (sTLD). It’s a type of TLD restricted to certain groups and organizations. Some sTLD examples include .mil, .gov, and .edu.
- Generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD). It is the most common type of TLD and can be used for general purposes. Some popular examples of gTLDs include .com, .org, and .net. This category also includes newer extensions, such as .xyz, .club, and .online.
When deciding on the extension 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, .com, .biz, and .store domain extensions might be suitable for an eCommerce business. On the other hand, if you plan to create a blog or a personal website, using a .me or .online TLD can be an excellent solution.
If you want a more unique and catchy domain, we suggest using domain extensions like .xyz or .icu. These generic TLDs are not associated with any specific niche or website type.
Once you know what domain and extension to use, use our domain checker to review its availability. Simply enter your desired website name into the search bar, and the tool will offer a list of available domain names with various extension options and alternative suggestions.
If your desired address is taken, consider alternative top-level domains. For instance, if you are running a technology-related business but .com and .io TLDs are unavailable, try the .tech extension. If you need a domain for an online portfolio, consider opting for .space.
In general, don’t be afraid to experiment with different domain name and extension combinations. There are many TLDs you can use as domain hacks. For instance, if you offer career coaching but all the popular TLDs are already taken, try the .ch extension to get a unique yourcoa.ch name.
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 need to choose a registration period, which usually varies from one to 10 years depending on your registrar. Before the initial registration period ends, the registrar will alert you to renew it.
Domain registration companies typically require users to pay for a minimum period of one year. However, some 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 your chosen domain. Then, click Continue to cart.
On the shopping cart window, choose a domain name registration period from the drop-down menu. Then, create an account by providing your email address or connecting your Facebook or Google account.
Afterward, select the payment method, provide your billing information, and review the order. Once finished, click Submit Secure Payment to complete the checkout process.
4. Complete the Domain Registration
After completing the payment, you’ll be redirected to the control panel or hPanel if you’ve purchased your domain with Hostinger. Here is where you will set up the domain to complete the registration process.
Fill in all the fields with the correct details, such as your name, address, and contact information. Afterward, click the Finish registration button. This data will be stored on WHOIS, the official domain ownership database.
After submitting your details, the domain name registration will be processed. This may take some time, so you will have to check back to the control panel or your email to see whether it has been confirmed.
You can modify the domain ownership details under the domain management section in the control panel. Once changes are made, you will have to reconfirm them via email.
5. Verify Domain Name Ownership
The final step is to verify domain ownership through the email address you used when registering the domain. The email should arrive within a few minutes after finishing the domain setup. Simply click the verification link to confirm your contact information.
If the email doesn’t arrive, resend the request from the control panel. We recommend doing this as soon as possible, as waiting 15 days or more will lead to a temporary suspension of your domain from the registry.
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.
How to Buy a Domain Name if It Is Already Taken
In addition to considering alternative domain extensions, you can try purchasing an existing domain name from its owner. Here are the steps to take if your desired domain name already belongs to someone else.
1. Check to See What the Domain Is Currently Used For
Visit the domain you’re interested in and find out what kind of website it is used for. If there is a properly working website that has been regularly updated over the past few years, the owner would most likely not be interested in selling it. On the other hand, if the site hasn’t been updated in years, there may be a higher chance that you can convince the owner to sell it. If the domain name leads to a placeholder site, however, there is a good chance you can purchase it from the owner. This type of site is also known as a parked domain – a registered domain name not connected to any web hosting service. There are many parked domain owners who regularly buy domain names for the purpose of reselling them.
2. Find the Owner’s Contact Information on WHOIS Lookup
The easiest way to find out who owns the domain name you want is by looking up their contact information on the WHOIS directory. Along with the owner’s information, you can also see the registration expiration date. If you can’t find the information via the directory, try getting in touch with the owner using the contact details listed on their website.
3. Determine the Value of the Domain
Aside from contacting the domain owner, it’s crucial to get a better understanding of the value of your desired domain name. If you make a purchase without proper research, you risk getting scammed. Find out potential price ranges by looking up similar domains on domain marketplaces like Flippa and Sedo. Afterward, determine the maximum amount of money you are willing to offer for the domain.
4. Contact the Domain Owner
Get in touch with the owner by contacting them directly or using a domain broker service. When reaching out directly, send an email to the owner explaining who you are, why you’re writing to them, which domain you want to purchase, and your initial offer for it. Don’t forget to use professional language to convey the seriousness of your offer. On the other hand, using a domain broker can be a great option for first-time domain buyers. With this method, the broker will be the one getting in contact with the domain owner to negotiate the purchase. You can learn from the broker’s expertise about how to facilitate a fair transaction for any future domain purchases.
5. Negotiate the Purchase
When negotiating the terms of purchase, make sure to reach an agreement with the owner on the domain’s price, transfer method, and region laws it may be subject to.
To ensure a fair and safe transaction, consult an attorney before signing any formal agreements. In addition, to further lower the risks of fraud, consider using an escrow service instead of immediately transferring money to the owner. If you opt for this route, the domain and payment are transferred separately – a process many domain registrars can help you with.
Domain Name Pricing
At Hostinger, we offer over 100 unique domain extensions, and the TLD list is constantly growing. All prices displayed are for 12 months, and they start as low as $0.99 for the first year.
Important! Prices do not include VAT.
Most Popular Domain List
$0.99 Domain List
All Domains List
Save money on domains by finding web hosting services with free domain names.
For instance, our Premium Shared Hosting plan that costs $2.99/month allows the user to claim a domain name for free for the first year of subscription. If you choose the .net domain, purchasing this hosting service lets you save $12.99 for the first year.
Furthermore, this plan also comes with a free SSL certificate, which is essential for protecting a website.
What to Do After Buying the Domain
After purchasing and registering your domain name, there are a few more steps you should follow to set up your website. This section details what to do after buying a domain name.
Purchase a Web Hosting Plan
Web hosting is a service making sites accessible online by providing a physical server that acts as storage space for a website’s files and data. Set up your web hosting by purchasing one of the plans provided by a web host.
There are many types of web hosting services available, such as shared hosting, VPS hosting, cloud hosting, and WordPress hosting. Evaluate your needs before choosing one, as different hosting plans cater to different website requirements. For example, a shared hosting plan may be the best option for small websites like a blog or personal portfolio.
Important! Users who purchase their domain name and hosting plan from separate providers will need to connect the domain to their web hosting account.
Create a Website
There are two main ways to create a website – using a site builder or a content management system (CMS). A website builder lets people create sites without coding knowledge. Users can pick a pre-designed website template and customize it via a drag-and-drop interface that makes it easy to arrange site elements. Some examples of popular site builders include Wix and Squarespace.
Similarly, a CMS lets users with little to no programming experience create websites. With it, people can develop and manage a website and its content via a graphical user interface. Some of the best CMS platforms include WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal.
If you want an effortless and straightforward solution that lets you create a website in minutes, use a hosted site builder. On the other hand, if you prefer to have more control and customization flexibility, go with a self-hosted CMS.
If you plan to use a domain name for the long term, consider enabling the auto-renewal feature. It can save you time and ensure continued usage of your active services.
To enable this feature, simply go to hPanel → Billing and add a payment method. Then, navigate to the Services section and choose Enable auto-renewal.
Selecting and purchasing a domain name are necessary for the website creation process. Domain names enable site owners to launch their sites online and users to access websites easily.
When brainstorming a custom domain name, remember to make it short, memorable, and future-proof. Don’t forget to look up the name on trademark databases to avoid copyright infringement. In addition, you can use a domain name generator to help find possible domain names.
To recap, here are the five steps of buying a domain name:
- Find a credible domain registrar.
- Run a domain name search.
- Pick your domain.
- Complete the domain registration.
- Verify domain name ownership.
Alternatively, you can try purchasing a registered domain name by contacting the owner and making an offer.
After buying your domain, go ahead and purchase a web hosting plan and start creating your website using a site builder or CMS. We hope this article has helped you learn more about how to buy a domain name for your website.
How to Buy a Domain Name FAQ
Now that you’ve learned all about buying domain names, we’ll provide answers to some of the most commonly asked questions.
How Can I Get a Free .com Domain?
At Hostinger, you get a free .com domain with an annual Premium Shared Hosting or Business Shared Hosting plan.
Can I Buy a Domain Name Without Hosting?
Yes, you can. Domain registration and web hosting are two different services, so you don’t need to buy or have a hosting plan to register a domain name. Simply check if your preferred domain is available, then buy and register it via a domain name registrar.
However, in order to use your purchased domain name for a website, you’ll need to pay for a web hosting plan.
How to Buy a Domain Name Permanently?
It’s not possible to buy a domain name permanently since it is not a one-time purchase. Typically, the maximum registration period is 10 years. You will need to pay and renew your subscription if you want to keep using the same domain name.
When Should I Buy a Domain Name?
You should buy a domain name as soon as possible. There are hundreds of millions of domain name registrations happening every year, so your preferred website address will likely not be available for long.
You can always let your domain reach its expiration date or resell it if you decide not to connect it to a live website.
Can I Transfer My Domain Name to Hostinger?
Yes, you can transfer your domain name to Hostinger to migrate all of your website services to one account.
We can help perform the domain transfer process in four simple steps. Simply enter your domain name, complete the purchase, enter the authorization code from your previous registrar, and confirm the transfer via email.