Things to Consider when Buying a Domain Name
When you’re choosing a name for your company, you’ll always be advised to keep it short, snappy, memorable and easy to spell. Each of these rules applies equally to the creation of a domain name, if not with more urgency. However, putting aside the process of constructing a quality name, there are numerous things to consider when buying a domain name. If you’re setting up a website (whether for yourself or a client) and aren’t experienced in doing so, the following sections should prove highly valuable to you.
Before we begin, here’s a brief overview of what a domain name is.
Once your website is created, people are going to need a way of finding it – just as you need an address to find a location. The “address” for your website is a random assortment of numbers known as an “IP address” and your domain name is the translation of your IP address into words, characters and potentially numbers, commonly known as a “URL”.
For example, Facebook’s domain name is “www.facebook.com”.
The Ideal Domain Name
To start with, let’s go over some of the more vital rules for making a healthy, effective domain name that should prove advantageous for your site and your business.
First of all, ensure that your name is simple, straightforward and as uncomplicated as it can possibly be. If this is done correctly, people should have no problem memorizing your domain name – which in turn, can be incredibly useful for spreading awareness of your site via word of mouth.
Speaking of verbal communication, if somebody tells their friend about your website, you need to make sure they know how to spell your domain name just by hearing it. This can be done by avoiding words that are difficult to spell, having multiple spellings and by avoiding the use of hyphens.
Take our domain name for example. Just by looking at the domain, you can understand that the website is about Sood, and that we are an agency. You want to keep your domain name to the point and easy to understand.
Additionally, you should aim for ten or fewer characters for simplicity’s sake. Don’t worry too much about this is your brand name is longer.
Needless to say, the world wide web is a gargantuan place – to say the least. Currently, approximately 5 billion people are active on the internet and there are roughly 350 million registered domain names out there (according to Siteefy). This adds some particularly tricky hurdles to the process of creating a domain name and many times, people will carefully form their ideal name, only to find out that it’s been taken. Using hyphens and workaround spellings can be surefire methods of overcoming these hurdles, but bear in mind that – as inferred in the previous segment – your website isn’t going to grow anywhere nearly as organically when you sacrifice the simplicity of your domain name.
Despite the harsh reality that your perfect domain name is likely taken and no workarounds are worth executing, you could be in luck. All domains are registered publicly to the WHOIS directory, meaning you can search for a domain name and instantly find the necessary data needed to identify the owner of a domain (the difficulty of this may vary depending on the owner’s privacy). Now, if you’re lucky enough, the current owner may not hold the domain name too dearly and could be willing to negotiate a deal with you.
There is however such a thing as domain squatting (otherwise known as “bad faith registration”) – the act of buying a domain name with the intention to resell it for a higher price. If a squatter owns your domain and asks for a moderate price, it may be worth conceding; if they ask for an extortionate price, which they likely will, there is a US Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act which depending on your situation, could fight your corner. In the UK however, domain squatting isn’t as heavily regulated, but there are ways to combat it.
“legal action can be taken through the avenue of trade mark infringement, with legal backing coming from the Trade Mark Act of 1994. In addition you can also go through the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) who help to resolve cyber squatting issues”
Buying a Domain From Registrars
First of all, read the Terms of Service as thoroughly as you can. Chances are, you’ll find some questionable obligations or fees which, needless to say, is a sure enough sign that you should look elsewhere. Some fees to look out for are:
Transfer Out Fee – One thing to look out for is a Transfer Out fee. These are fees which come into play once you decide to transfer from one registrar to another, a process that should come at no cost with your current (soon-to-be former) registrar. These fees are a breach of ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) policy and can provide grounds to take legal action.
Administration Fee – Similarly, if you wish to edit your WHOIS records, which you’re free to do, some registrars will charge you an “administration fee” – another unjust fee which should also be ushering you straight to another registrar (with no transfer fees attached).
Inflated Renewal Fees – You should also make sure the renewal fees aren’t exorbitant. Registrars will sometimes charge cheap/average fees for buying a domain and inflate said fee when it’s time for renewal.
Inflated Privacy Fees – Make sure you find a registrar that values privacy. Some will offer privacy protection for free, some will charge a premium and some may not offer it at all. Unless you want to be frequently contacted by third parties offering needless web hosting services, you’re going to want privacy protection, but it usually isn’t worth paying over the odds for (for more information on web hosting).
Also, be wary of registrars who enter their details into the WHOIS (or other) directories as they will have ownership of your domain. Furthermore, it isn’t unheard of for registrars to sell your data to marketing agencies. Find a registrar who guarantees never to sell or misuse your data.
Finally, a simple mistake that can have horrendous consequences for you and your website is to purchase your domain name under an email which you won’t have access to when renewal time comes around. Your registrar will send you an email offering a renewal and if you don’t receive that email, your website will cease to exist and chances are, your domain name will be bought by somebody else, possibly a squatter.
Hopefully, from what you’ve read, you’ve been made aware of some of the pitfalls that aren’t immediately obvious for first-time domain buyers. Luckily, the best way of avoiding these hazards is to thoroughly read the terms of what you’re signing up for. Briefly search the fees you’ll be paying and make sure they’re legitimate and justified. Additionally, for the sake of your branding (if of course, you’re a business owner), be as creative and as market savvy as you can be and hopefully, you’ll obtain the perfect domain name for you and your business.