How to Register a Domain Name

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What exactly is a domain name?

Simply put, it’s a website identifier which uses ordinary words rather than numbers, dots & dashes - just like we would use the name of a business e.g. “Sally’s Sandwiches”, rather than giving the GPS coordinates in everyday communication. When we type Sally’s Sandwiches into the search bar, the domain name tells the DNS server which website we want to go to. The Domain Name System (DNS) translates the user-friendly name to an IP address which means nothing to the average user.

Why register a domain name?

  • It is your first step to establishing an online presence and getting visitors
  • If you ever change your web host – you keep the name. It belongs to your business
  • A registered domain name does lend credibility and projects professionalism
  • The domain name can assist in marketing efforts if it’s easy to remember, catchy or directly related to the type of business

What does registration involve?

One organisation called ICANN is responsible for registering all domain names. Usually the website builder or your web host offers the registration service as part of the hosting package. A nominal fee has to be paid annually to retain the rights to that name.

Step

Action

1

Choose a web hosting service e.g. MWeb, Domaincheap, Hetzner, GoDaddy, Afrihost, Wordpress, Domains.co.za. Run a Google search and compare offerings.

2

Choose a Name* - Once you have selected the web host, it’s often a very easy “click next” experience and you will automatically be taken to an availability checker. Simply type in the name you want e.g. “Sally’s Sandwiches” and the checker will tell you if it’s available or recommend alternatives.

3

Do the Admin - Once you have chosen your domain name, you will be given an opportunity to select other services the host offers, this is according to your needs. At this point, the form filling- in begins. Grab a cup of coffee and simply work through.

4

Pay the Piper – Ummm yes, website addresses, just like real addresses, have to be paid for.

5

Build your website! - Once you are registered the web host usually offer simple create-your-own website templates 

 

Tips for Choosing a Good Domain Name

  • Keep it short and simple (Lengthy or tricky names are hard to remember and even harder to type correctly)
  • Project the right image for your business (e.g. “Keep it Legal” may be catchy but inappropriate for a serious firm of attorneys)
  • Make it easy to read and write
  • Make it easy to remember, catchy if possible
  • Indicate the nature of your business – what do you offer? (e.g. “Sally’s” may be a perfectly fine business name, when it’s over a shop with a big sandwich sign, but this isn’t the case with a domain name. “Sally’s Sandwiches” leaves no room for doubt and it has the very important benefit of being SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) friendly. This means that if someone types “sandwiches” into the search bar, your chances are increased that you will be found, even by accident.
  • Avoid using a name that is too close to another company’s domain name to avoid customer confusion and possible breach of copyright
  • Choose a common TLD (Top-level Domain). These are the letters that follow the dot. In South Africa, these are usually: .co.za, .com or .org.
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