Website domains are a very confusing topic for most people. It’s not even close to as simple as just choosing a good name.
You need to learn a whole new set of terminology. You have to choose from hundreds of domain extensions (one of those terms you just learned) that you didn’t even know existed. Then wrap your mind around an extremely wide range of prices and term lengths of ownership. Figure out who to buy from. Make sure you legally can buy from them in your country (yea, that’s a thing).
Then, there’s setting it up to point to your website — which, to most people, is just some sort of dark magic that works and you don’t ask about it. Also, you better make sure you have things set to continue renewing, paying for, and owning it year after year so your website doesn’t go down and you lose your clever domain to someone else forever.
It’s not like anyone teaches these things in school (though they should), and it’s not like the subject of domain addresses comes up in casual conversation very often (though they probably will more and more). I, however, happen to enjoy talking about domain names any time for any reason…
I love a well-thought web domain! I’ve even been known to think up something really clever, buy it, and then sit on for a few years while I consider using it. No joke! I’m a firm believer that the right web domain is worth every second of thought and every dollar spent on it.
Sadly though, most people don’t realize the vast array of options before them and they don’t want to learn (or even know they should) all the stuff I mentioned above. So they just go with something really long, hard to remember, unoriginal and boring that ends with “.com” because that’s what is familiar and easy to buy from some service online.
If you work with SOZO.DO for your web development, you’ll be ahead of the curve on all of this and you won’t even have to learn most of the above mentioned stuff.
However, you will need to learn some of it. Now, that’s what the rest of this article is for — a quick fly-over of all you need to know.
The “Some Of It” About Domains You Actually Need To Know
Let me first explain why domain addresses even exist in it’s simplest, untechnical form.
Why Domain Names Are Even A Thing — A Very Necessary Thing
Every site exists on a server and that server has a specific “address” which is a string of numbers. Since people can’t even remember their own telephone number, there’s no way they can remember their own — much more everyone else’s — string of numbers to find their site. So instead, we mask these numbers with cool names.
So instead of me giving you 220.127.116.11 for this SOZO.DO business website, I just tell you, “Type in ‘SOZO.DO’ and you’ll find me!”
The thing you gotta know: you have to have one!
Now, let’s tackle the biggest, hardest thing for most people. The extensions!
The Big One: Domain Extensions
You are likely familiar with the “.com” that goes on the end of your domain. This is called the domain extension.
As you may also know, there are many more options such as .net, .org, .edu, .gov, and so on. All of these were invented to help keep the internet sorted out all neat, tidy, and predictable (it sorta worked — or helped at least) and they are maintained by an international non-profit known as ICANN (a.k.a the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers).
Conspiracy theories, commence!
However, what you might not know is that there are actually enormous amounts of other domain extensions!
Two Letter Country Code Extensions
There have also always been a huge amount of country specific domain extensions. You’ve probably seen some of these and didn’t know what they were. Easiest example is this site you’re on: SOZO.DO. The “.do” actually belongs / is administered by the Dominican Republic.
Country code domain extensions are always two letters. The most popular one you’re likely to see is “.co” because it gets used as short for “company” when the desired “.com” is already taken.
The only downside is that, many of these extensions aren’t available for purchase or can be way more expensive than others.
But if you think those country-specific extensions open up options, brace yourself…
So Many Other Extension Options Now!
Since the last few decades have seen a few folks use up a few domain names from the original 7 “top level domains” (formed in the 80s), there was a whole big movement started to make and allow more extensions in the early 2000s. And, since sometime around 2014, they have started finally rolling out a few new ones. Then, in 2015 and 2016 hundreds of more extensions were dumped onto the scene, and there are thousands of other applications pending.
The list is humongous and growing. I’m talking things like .photography and .bike and .cool and on and on. One we’ve already used is the “.shop” extension for CitizensOfNature.Shop.
The thing you gotta know: You have an enormous amount of options and though there are downsides to choosing more obscure names, these are going to become more and more normal in the years to come! So, don’t limit yourself. Have fun with it and come up with a nice, succinct, memorable domain name!
Wikipedia maintains a pretty up-to-date and scannable list for your perusing: List Of Domain Extensions
If you get stumped, I love helping come up with clever domain names!
Purchasing And Continuing To Own A Domain
There’s a lot to purchasing and owning a domain that we can’t dive into here. So let me give you a bulleted list of facts:
- Domains are purchased from “registrar” companies that have different prices for the same domains.
- Most domains can be purchased from any registrar, but many are very specific to who administers them.
- Some of the extensions, especially the country-code ones, can only be used for certain purposes, and some, can’t be used by you at all.
- You may not speak the language of some of the sites and places that control the ones you want.
- Prices vary like crazy depending on the extension and the registrar — as in, from a few bucks per year to hundreds per year.
- The price is an ongoing expense that has to be renewed usually once a year, but terms vary.
- Just because a domain is already owned doesn’t mean you can’t still purchase it. If you want it bad enough and/or your pockets are deep enough, you can often acquire domains. I can help you try to do that.
- You can purchase multiple domain names and extensions and point multiple to the same website. It’s often a recommended practice, if you can afford it, so that customers can find you easier if they forget your exact domain and guess. It also keeps copy-cats, competitors, and scammers at a distance. But, you better do this correctly or you can hurt your search engine rankings instead of help them!
- Domains can be purchased, owned, and maintained / controlled separate from your website files and accounts, but, again, you better keep tabs on this if you’re going to do it. There is much technical stuff to configure to keep a domain pointed correctly at a website. Keep them configured correctly. Keep them updated. Keep them secure. Or, just have us or someone you trust do it for you.
- Your domain name is semi-permanent. Really, ideally, it should be permanent. But, people and brands and perceptions change. Everything changes. It’s okay. Your domain name can be changed. It cannot be overstated how careful one must be when changing a domain name though. It can do serious damage to your rankings and cause / business if not done rightly.
The big thing you gotta know: Purchasing domains can be tricky and frustrating for many reasons. Do your shopping and research or use someone (like SOZO.DO!) that has lots of experience to guide you and make it easier. However you do it, make sure you know it’s going to be a continual expense — usually one payment yearly!
Now Do This!
There you have it: a fairly decent briefing on what you’re buying and how it works when choosing a domain extension for you or your company. I left out tons of technical information, but I think it’s a pretty thorough relay of the practical information you’ll want to know as a website owner.
So, now it’s time to get one (or ten)! Come up with options and we can check on pricing and availability. Then, I always recommend you sit on them for a week or so and tell them to others to get feedback. Then, when you feel really good about one, we can snatch it up for ya before someone else does!
Perhaps I’ll write soon on more of the marketable tips for choosing a great domain. That’d be helpful, eh?
Was this helpful? If you have any other questions or comments, just leave them in the comments below so others can learn and benefit too!