Registering your own domain for your site is the first big leap for a person wanting to start a career as a serious webmaster. Most people don’t know much about web hosting or registering domains and may think it’s only for the technical elite. In reality, it really isn’t as complicated as one might think. I will give an overview in this article to help give you confidence.
Domain registration is really website ownership. You own that name and no one should be able to take that from you. Even if someone got access to your database or files or “screenscraped” your site and tried to steal your content for their own site, most likely Google will recognize it as duplicate content and punish them. They also won’t have all the name recognition or backlinks that you will gain pointing to your domain name over the next few years.
When registering a domain, it is wise to make sure the domain registrar is a good one. The domain registrar will be responsible for domain support and for keeping your domain up. One big example of a domain registrar gone bad is Registerfly recently. They started having problems and wouldn’t answer anyone’s support. People were even getting domains hijacked yet Registerfly didn’t deal with it. Luckily, GoDaddy was able to save them and get all their domains moved to that company.
Many registrars also have a “reseller” option. That is like a middleman who can control it. For example, Namecheap is the reseller for ENOM. Inc. My personal belief is if you have a choice between some unknown domain reseller offering you discounts or the parent company, you will want to have it registered with the parent registrar. That way it will save you any future hassles you might have with some unknown domain reseller. You can complain to the parent registrar though, if you do have any problems with a reseller.
Many people don’t understand why you would spend extra few dollars per year for whois privacy protection services. One reason is spam. But an even more important reason is because do you really want your real contact information posted out there on the net? And don’t think about putting fake information on your whois because under ICANN regulations (the body that sets up domain registration rules), a registrar can suspend your domain and sell it for giving false whois contact information. And Godaddy has done that plenty of times when competitors tried to take advantage of it. By using whois privacy protection service, you are putting the registrar’s contact information instead of yours, so you are safe.
Once you register your name it is important you make sure it is locked. This will prevent any domain hijacking. You also might want to consider registering the domain a few years out, as Google places more importance on domains with longer registrations.
You won’t be able to do anything else with your domain until you purchase web-hosting. Until then, your domain will “point” to a parked page (or nothing). Remember that if you decide in the future to transfer your domain to another registrar company, you will lose all the registration years you paid in advance on the previous registrar.
You should never purchase your domain with the same company that you host your websites on. Many hosting companies are not that reputable and may actually hold your domain hostage if you want to change hosts. It is very important you find a domain registrar you trust.
I prefer GoDaddy to register my domains for 3 important reasons. First, they are a very large domain company, so your domains are safe in their hands. Second, GoDaddy has the best DNS server infrastructure and DNS servers often wind up being the bottleneck in handling large web traffic. Finally, they are always having a lot of sales on domain purchases or renewals, which has saved me quite a bit of money.