There are lots of places to buy cheap domain names. And while most of the vendors are reputable, there are some key points to keep in mind when deciding who you want to register your domain with. You can check out some of our recommend cheapest domain registrars here.
Keep in mind, you don't have to host your website at the same place you buy your domain name. For instance, many people will buy their domain name with a company like GoDaddy.com then host their website with a web hosting company like Bluehost.com.
Here are six tips on how to buy a cheap domain name (that's really good).
1. Don’t Settle with "Close Enough" Domains
While everyone's preference is a ".com" domain, sometimes it just isn't available. Resist the urge to add bizarre and hard to remember features just to find one that is available.
Here are three things to avoid when buying your domain name:
Domain Names with Hyphens
People will forget where the hyphens go (especially if there are more than one) or forget them altogether. And if you need to speak your site address (voice mail, radio ads, word-of-mouth) then the hyphen just makes it clumsy.
It's even worse if your competitor uses the same domain as you, only without hyphens. You’ll send daily traffic to their site when your visitors enter your domain incorrectly.
Finally, using hyphens in your domain name just comes off as amateurish, low-budget, and can really diminish the perception of your brand.
Generally speaking, you should completely avoid using hyphens in your domain name. Yes, this means it will take some more time to come up with a good domain name that is available without hyphens, but it's well worth it in the long run.
Domain Names That End with .Org, .Net, .Biz, Etc...
Since it's so hard to find good ".com" domain names these days, many people go ahead and settle on going with a different version of the domain name such as ".net", ".biz", etc. version of the domain name, as they are usually readily available.
You may want to hold off before going with those extensions for a couple of reasons.
First, if there is already a well known brand that uses the ".com" version there may be legal implications to you using any version of the domain name.
Second, even if the other extension is available, most people are familiar with the ".com" version and may end up going to that website anyway; essentially you'd be advertising for your competitor for free. When a client searches for ".net" version of the domain name, you have to compete against a larger, already established brand. And when a client is actually looking for you, they might not remember your less well-known name and end up buying from your competitor.
There are some cases where using a different domain name extension can make sense. If your company is a non-profit then going with the ".org" is a viable option. Another example is if you have a local business that only serves a geographical area; such as a business in New York could go with a ".nyc" extension. Other than these exceptions it's highly recommended you try to find a ".com" name for your website.
Multiple Spellings and Numbers
Because it's easy to get confused with spelling, choose a word (or words) that can’t be easily confused. For example, the word "bass" has two pronunciations and as a result will be spelled incorrectly, a number of ways. Bass can refer to various fish species, a low-frequency sound, more than ten different towns around the world or even a surname.
Second avoid using numbers, as many people may confuse whether or not they need to type in the actual number, like "7", or type in the spelling of it, like "seven". Also, using numbers in your domain can give off a perception of being low budget and have an amaterish feel to it.
2. Buy From an Established Registrar
While there are hundreds of places to buy a domain, don’t buy from an unknown domain registrar. The odds of them going out of business is probably low - but why put yourself through that type of risk?
The reality is that anybody can start a domain registration and hosting company. It's best to stay away from a smaller "mom and pop" type domain registration company and stick with a larger company - the primary reason being that the lack of customer support from a smaller operation can be ahuge problem - you want to opt for a company that offers 24/7 customer support. Some reputable domain name registrars include:
- 1and1.com (domain names, ecommerce and hosting)
- BlueHost.com (domain names and hosting)
- GoDaddy.com (domain names, ecommerce and hosting)
- HostGator.com (domain names and hosting)
- Namecheap.com (domain names and hosting)
3. Brain Storm Before Your Begin Searching
Use a free brainstorming tool, also known as a domain name generator, to automatically come up with several variations of your domain name ideas (and see whether or not it's available).
The other invaluable tool is a thesaurus. I've used both a print copy and the online Thesaurus.com. Once you have your few keywords in mind, look them up. Sometimes you’ll get the right word right away. Other times it will take a few hours of playing with variants.
Remember: this is worth the time. You are going to be investing hundreds of hours building a brand and generating traffic for this domain. Choosing the right domain is very important.
4. Buy Your Domain Name for 2 Years Minimum
When you purchase your domain name, rather than just registering it for one year, you should consider registering it for at least two years (or more). Here are a few reasons to do that:
- Lock in a lower price: Usually the more years you register, the lower the price per year will be. Also, as costs generally go up each year, you'll be locking in that low rate.
- Save time and hassle: You won't have to worry about renewing your domain name every year or forget to renew your domain name and end up losing it!
- SEO Benefits: Google rewards your commitment with higher search ranking.
5. Don’t Buy Auctioned Names
While many companies want single word, generic domains (insurance.com or travel.com) you should avoid these. There are two problems with these domains:
- They aren't memorable: It is pretty hard to build a brand around a single, meaningless word. The word might define the industry but clients are looking to buy from a company not a generic site. Also, Google and other search engines prefer to rank branded domain names over generic ones.
- They are expensive: Premium domains sell for hundreds of dollars up to millions of dollars (Insure.com sold for $16 million in 2009).
Customers relate to brands, not dictionary entries. When the internet was new, people would type a word into their browser and add ".com" to the end. We don’t do that anymore. These generic domains have had their day. Unfortunately, big companies still don’t get it and happily pay 6 or 7 figures for these low value domains.
6. Read the Fine Print
Some registrars offer private registration for free. Others charge as much as $11.99 per year. Make sure you are comparing equal variables. Sometimes the "cheapest" option actually costs more.
You’ll also want to make sure about the following features:
- Auto domain renewals: Most registrars are now offering this service, but it's good to check. The last thing you want is to lose your domain because you forgot to renew it.
- Free domain parking until you are ready to use your domain.
- Free domain forwarding in case you are using your domain as a redirect link.
- Hosting options: While some domain registrars also offer hosting, many business owners opt to host their sites elsewhere. This gives them the freedom to change hosts without moving their domains.
- Renewal costs: A low price is great, but how much will it cost to renew?
With these tips, you're ready to purchase a great, cheap domain name. Once you've done that it's time to build your website and start driving massive amount of website traffic.