How to buy a Web Domain

When you visit a website, you type in the name of that website in your browser. The URL is what is called a web domain name. These domain names are anything after the www. and before the .com. Nearly anything can be part of a domain name, as long as it is letters and numbers. Symbols and other characters, such as Cyrillic and Asiatic alphabets, are not allowed. A domain name can be a random string of nonsense or a word or phrase that relates to the site. Most people try to find and purchase domain names that relate to what their business is and does.

Types of Domains

Domains come in many flavors. The most common are the "top level domains" of com, org, net, gov and info. There are also country code top-level domains, such as .ca for Canada, .de for Germany and .es for Spain. What type of domain your website uses depends partly on its purpose and partly on what you want your URL to look like. You don't need to be based on Germany to have a .de URL, but it may be more expensive.

What Else do you need?

Having a domain name is not all you need for a website. Without a domain name, no one can get to your website. However, you also need web hosting. A web host is what actually holds on to your files and allows them to be seen by the Internet at large. Web hosting and a domain name work together to provide a website to the Internet. Most web hosts either are domain name registrars themselves, or have close deals with specific registrars. However, virtually any web host will be able to host a website at any domain name, regardless of what registrar holds the domain name to begin with. To fully develop a website you will also need suites of development software, such as HTML editors. If you will be hosting a store, you will need e-commerce software as well. However, most of this software is either provided by or recommended by your web host. Finding a Web Domain

In many cases, the hardest part of buying a web domain is finding one in the first place. The Internet is a very large place, and many domain names are already taken. Even more of them are already taken by registrars and domain squatters. Some people are willing to sell a domain name they own. Domain registrars make a business out of buying domains and holding them until someone wants to purchase them. Others have based their business around their domain name and won't sell. The same domain name can be purchased on multiple top-level domains. For example, www.google.com, www.google.ca and www.google.org are all different websites. This is useful, but also hazardous. Google can buy multiple domain names and use them for different purposes. In this case, the .com domain is their main site for the USA. The .ca site is a version of their search tailored to Canadian audiences. Meanwhile the .org domain is not a search page, but an informational page about their organization. Sometimes this can be used against a company. The Cameroon domain of .cm has come under scrutiny recently because it allows people to take advantage of typos. If you were to purchase www.google.cm, and someone forgets to type the o in com, they would be taken to your site. This is dangerous, because if a scammer creates a typo site and makes it look just like a legitimate site, they can potentially steal customer information.

Parked Domains and Domain Squatters

Domains can be found in four major situations. The first is completely unregistered. This means no one owns the domain. Generally, a domain that no one owns is the cheapest type of domain to purchase. This is good for niche keywords and SEO purposes, but it also means there is little interest in the domain to begin with. The second type of domain is one that is owned by a permanent owner. In other words, a company or person who does not want to sell the domain they own. The third and fourth types of domain owners are those who buy domains to resell. Parked domains are where a company goes through and buys up hundreds or thousands of cheap domains, places a site on them advertising their company, and offers to sell them for a profit. What price they list depends on the interest they get and how much it cost them to buy in the first place. Domain squatters are similar, but operate on slightly shadier ground. A domain squatter will watch current events for a new product being introduced. They will then register the www.majorproductname.com domain if it isn't already owned, and then offer to sell it to the product owners for an exorbitant fee. Domain squatting is technically illegal. Some companies will pay for the domain, while others prefer to take the squatter to court to get the domain awarded to them.

How to Buy a Web Domain

Once you have found a domain name, you will have to find a domain registrar to buy it from. If no one owns the domain, you will likely only need to pay between $1 and $20 for it. In most cases there is also a yearly fee for owning the domain name -- if left unpaid, the registrar will sell the domain to someone else or park it for themselves. If the domain is owned, you will have to negotiate with the owner to have them sell the domain to you. The most valuable domain name sold to date was insure.com, which sold for $16,000,000 in 2009. Very rarely is a domain name that expensive. From there, the process is simple. Just make a deal with the domain registrar to buy the domain, and let your web host know you own it and that is the name associated with your site.

 

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Resources

Domain Registries

Listed below are links to the Governing Bodies (Registry) for different TLDs. Note, you can not actually register a domain (i.e. Buy a URL) with any of these sites.

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Since we are a small business we often wear a lot of different hats, I had the opportunity to create a website. How to buy a URL helped me go from not knowing anything to building our companie's very first site.

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