This post was last updated on September 15, 2022.
Long before purchasing real estate in the metaverse, buying a domain name was one of few ways to own virtual property.
Domain names not only serve as your digital address, they still play a significant role in your branding efforts and online presence. They can also act as a valuable business asset, since desirable domain names can actually be worth a fortune.
With this in mind, purchasing a domain is a big step in developing a strong online strategy and investing in your future. Regardless of your industry or niche, follow these steps to learn how to register a domain name for your website.
Ready to buy a website domain? Get started with Wix today.
What is a domain name?
What is a domain name, exactly? This term describes the address that you type into a browser to arrive at a website. It is essentially a website’s home, so every domain is unique. An example is www.wix.com.
Domain names were created so people could more easily access a website’s Internet Protocol (IP), a string of numbers representing individual websites. Every URL has an IP address, and unless you are a computer, a domain is much simpler to remember than a string of numbers. For example, take the IP address 188.8.131.52: to most, this is just a complicated string of numbers. Its domain name, wix.com, is not only easy to remember, but it also conveys a distinct brand that numbers cannot.
Why a domain name matters
A good domain name will represent your brand online and act as your company’s home on the web. A good domain name affects your business in three main areas:
It ensures a good first impression. Your website will often be a potential customer’s first exposure to your business. A personalized domain name will help your audience perceive you as credible, reliable, and authoritative in your professional field.
It’s a solid foundation for brand building. Your domain name can help enhance your company’s name recognition if it stands out, is memorable and in tune with the rest of your branding assets. It helps users add value to your brand or business, by creating associations to your name and website.
It’ll improve your brand’s SEO potential. While Google doesn’t determine website ranking based on a domain name alone, a good one can positively affect your site’s SEO (search engine optimization). Visitors unaware of your brand could click on your website from a search engine results page (SERP) if it matches their intent. For example, someone searching for backpacks will likely click on qualitypacks.com over an unfamiliar brand name.
How to register a domain name in 5 steps
01. Select a domain registrar
Before you can start choosing, you need to first know where to buy a domain name. A domain registrar is a company that reserves and manages domain names. While the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) manages all domains worldwide, a registrar deals with ICANN on your behalf.
Tip: Wix.com is a registrar and also a web-hosting service, meaning you can not only purchase a unique domain, but also create your site on the same platform. With the purchase of a premium plan, you get a voucher for a free domain name for a year.
02. Choose the best domain name
You must consider many factors when choosing a domain name for your site. First, select a name that reflects your brand’s tone and messaging. Stick to a name that is short and catchy, so that people can easily remember it, such as nbc.com.
To improve your SEO efforts, you can incorporate an associated keyword into your brand’s domain name, too.
For example, an illustrator named Talia Cohen may opt for taliacohenillustration.com, or an animal rescue organization called Whiskers might go for whiskersrescue.com. Once you’re ready, create a shortlist of potential names.
If you need some help to find the best domain name for your brand or business, try a domain name generator. This free tool can instantly get domain name ideas for your website that aligns with your branding and SEO strategy.
03. Check the availability of your domain name
Existing companies may already own your preferred domain names. Try out an unlimited number of options for free on a domain name search platform. If your desired name is unavailable, the tool will come up with additional ideas. Play around with alternatives until you find the perfect one.
04. Select your domain extension
Also known as top-level domains (TLD), domain extensions quickly identify certain website elements such as purpose, owner or geographic location. There are five official types of TLDs, with generic top-level domains (gTLD) accounting for the majority of the 366 million registered domains worldwide. The most popular gTLD choices are .org, .com and .net, making them the easiest to recall. You can check out ICANN’s complete list of domain extensions here.
If your domain name is already taken, try it out with a different extension—you may find an available option. However, keep in mind that an extension like .org is better used for nonprofit organizations, while .com usually represents for-profit companies.
05. Purchase your domain
Once you’ve selected a domain name for your site, claim it before someone else does.
Here’s how to register a domain name with Wix:
Head over to the domain registrar.
Type in your preferred domain name and click Search.
If your name is available, click Get It to proceed. If not, browse the additional ideas or type another option into the search bar.
Once you’ve found a domain name that suits your site’s needs, click Get It.
Next, decide whether you’d like to register for one, two or three years. The longer your registration period, the more money you save each year. Once you’ve chosen, click Continue and continue to checkout.
Connect the domain name to your site and share it with your desired audience, be it friends and family or an internet niche.
How to buy a domain name
Free domain name registration
Here are a couple of ways to get a domain name for free:
Register a free subdomain. A subdomain is a prefix on a domain name that connects independently functioning sites. Certain hosting platforms and site builders offer users a fully-functioning website for free with a customized subdomain. For example, when you create a Wix website you can publish it for free under the following URL structure: username.wixsite.com/siteaddress.
Take advantage of free web hosting. Several hosting sites offer free customized domain registration with purchase, giving you a professional online presence without the cost.
How much does a domain cost?
While you can get a domain for free, you may want to purchase one instead. A free domain will contain a designated prefix of the registrar, which is best if you’re establishing an online presence or only temporarily need a website.
If you want your website to professionally stand out and grow with your brand, however, then invest in a domain name.
With Wix, the cost of a domain name depends on several factors, including:
The plan you purchase
Local VAT laws
However, all Wix premium plans come with a domain for one year, which otherwise cost between $14 and $39 a month. After a year, you can renew your domain for anywhere between $13.95 and $15.95 a year. You can read more about domain name costs in detail, to understand what’s right for you and your business.
In general, some other factors to consider that can impact the cost of a domain include auto-renew costs, privacy and protection costs and transferring domains. For example, you can also purchase a domain that already exists from another person or business. This is why having a desirable domain name can be good for your bottom line—if you ever want to sell it, you can make significant money. For example, in 2010, CarInsurance.com was sold for $49.7 million as one of the ten most expensive domain names in the world.
By Talia Cohen
Small Business Expert and Marketing Blogger
By Judit Ruiz Ricart
Blog Content Expert