Whether business or charity, an online presence gives your endeavour an edge. We help you buy a domain
uying a domain name is just like purchasing your own real estate in the huge and complex world of the Internet.
There could be several reasons for buying a domain name. As branding experts will tell you, your own website is a powerful tool to enhance your online brand, apart from having your presence in social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
If you have a blog on a blog hosting site, you might want to buy your own domain name so that you have a URL that directs people to the blog. (Short for Uniform Resource Locator, URL is the unique address for a file that is accessible on the Internet.) Or, you might want to blog on your own website. For example, if someone, say, Rajat writes a marketing blog, he can buy the domain rajatmarketing.com. Such a domain name can be used with email signatures or in visiting cards to increase the visibility of ‘Brand You’. Jobseekers can have their resume up on a website with their own name. An online resume is a great way to reach out to employers. Similarly, for businesses, having a website is a must.
Once you have bought a domain name, the next step is to use a hosting service which, essentially, gives your domain a ‘home’ on the Internet. Following that, you would need to create a website. People can now visit your website by typing your URL in the address bar, or by searching for it on a search engine. We will discuss this further in a subsequent issue.
How to choose a domain name
The name: This refers to the letters that come before the dot. If you are creating your personal website, you would naturally want it to have your name or, maybe, your name and surname. Choose one depending on your preference and availability. It should also be easy to type and remember. For instance, if your name is Sujit Bhattacharrya, you might choose ‘sujitb’, and so on. For businesses, the name of the firm is the domain name to go for, unless it’s already taken. For new businesses, it is best to find a domain name and register it even before you have finalised the business' name, so that your site has the same name as your business.
Says Saptarshi Roy Chaudhury, a search marketeer and an Internet business consultant: “Looking at it purely from the search engine’s perspective, a descriptive domain name is better. For example, if you are offering application development for mobile phones, a domain like mobileappdevelopment.com or mobileappdeveloper.com can be helpful in getting search engine visibility for those terms.”
The extension: You can opt for one of the many extensions following the dot (referred to as the Top Level Domain or TLD). Which one should you choose? Says Warren Adelman, president and chief operating officer, Go Daddy, an Internet domain register and Web-hosting company: “While a .com might be great for business, a .org is a better choice for a non-commercial enterprise like non-profit organisations. One could also use .me for a personal website.” (See To Each His Own for a common list of TLDs.)
What if your preferred domain name is unavailable?
In such cases, try out some alternatives by changing the name or the TLD, or both. These will be suggested to you just as alternate user names are suggested while creating an email ID.
However, if you can wait, and really want a domain name that is already taken, you can backorder it if the registrar gives you the option. If the person owning the domain does not renew his registration, it is made available to you, provided there is nobody else in the queue before you.
The cost: The price that you pay for a domain can vary greatly depending on the popularity of the domain you want to buy. For a domain name that has your name, with a .com or .net TLD, expect to pay around Rs 500-1000 every year. If available, .info domains are the cheapest—they will cost you less than Rs 100 per year. When buying a name for a business, domains with obvious names can cost you a lot. For example, you will have to fork out more than Rs 60,000 for disocuntandbargains.com and almost Rs 2 lakh for goodmeal.com.
Where to buy: There are companies (called registrars) licensed to manage and sell domain names. Visit www.icann.org for a list of ICANN-accredited registrars. See Where to Buy for a list of top five domain registrars.
Support: The registrar should have multiple customer support options—email support, support tickets and also a 24x7 customer helpline. If your registrar is based abroad, you are more likely to use email. A good registrar will reply to your query within a few hours. There are also how-to guides, blogs and user forums where you can get the information you want.
Names to avoid
- Names that are commonly mis-spelled, such as fluorescent.com and aficionado.com.
- Names that could fall under trademark or other legal bindings from other businesses (could lead to legal issues).
- Very long domain names with multiple hyphens (difficult to remember), such as how-to-buy-a-domain.com.
- Domain names that could be misread and misinterpreted, such as Expertsexchange.com
To each his own
A list of the various top level domains (TLDs) available
- .com - Most popular of all domains, vital for those seeking visibility
- .co - Abbreviation for COmpany, COmmerce, COmmunity, etc.
- .org - Meant for charities and non-profits
- .co.in or .uk - Gives a regional connection
- .net - Best option when .com is not available; can also be registered to protect your brand
- .info - Used for sites with information on any topic; hosted by a business or an individual
- .gov - Can be used only by government entities
- .me - For you and your product. Perfect for blogs, resumes and personal pages
Six steps to buying a domain
1. Get a fix on the domain name you want to buy.
2. Decide on the vendor you want to buy it from.
3. Visit the domain website and find out whether the domain name you want is available or not.
4. If it is not available, try some close alternatives by changing the name or the TLD. The website will also suggest some options to choose from. If you are creating a website for a business, you can buy all the domain names across multiple TLDs.
5. Add the domain or domains to your cart and complete the registration process. You will be asked to provide information such as name, telephone and email ID. If you do not want to pay a premium for a 'Private' domain registration in which case your identity is kept a secret.
6. Make the payment with a credit card. Following it, you will receive information about your domain account manager.
There are some important terms that you should know before you purchase a domain name. Here, we list a few of them.
ICANN: An abbreviation for Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, it is a not-for-profit organisation that is responsible for managing and co-ordinating the entire naming system on the Internet.
Registrar: This refers to a company from which you can buy a domain name. Such companies are allowed to manage a database of domains and sell them to the general public, and they are bound by a set of regulations.
ICANN has a list of accredited registrars on its site.
Registrant: Anyone who buys a domain name.
WHOIs: It is a database of all the domain registrations in the world. The registrar is required to submit the contact information of the registrant to ICANN. The information is public and can be accessed by anyone using the WHOIS database.
Top level domain (TLD): It refers to the letters that come after the dot in a domain name, such as .com, .org, .info or .net. TLDs can be general (such as .com), refer to a country (like .us) or to a specific purpose (like .biz or .edu).
Domain account manager: When you buy a domain name from a registrar, you have an account with him. After logging in with your username and password, you can view all the information and manage all your transactions, such as purchases and renewals.
anaghpal AT outlookindia.com