If you want to establish yourself online and build up a personal brand or online business, then buying a domain name is going to be one of the first places you start.

Without a domain name, you won’t have a website. Plus, buying the wrong kind of domain name, or paying too much, is only going to set back your online success.

Below you’ll learn why your domain name is important, how to get a website domain, and learn the answers to common questions about purchasing a domain name.


Why Is a Domain Name Important?

Choosing the right domain name is important for a few different reasons:

  1. Your domain name tells your visitors what your site is about. Choose a poor domain and you’ll send visitors scampering for the back button. On the other hand, choosing the right domain can inspire trust and confidence in your visitors.
  2. Your domain is the embodiment of your brand. It’s the foundation for your online efforts moving forward, so choose wisely.
  3. If you’re in the local arena choosing a domain with the right keywords can actually help you rank in the search engines. Plus, it’ll give you a leg up by letting your visitors know exactly what your site is about.

Now that you have a better understanding of why your domain name is important it’s time to get started on the process of actually getting a domain name for your new website.


How to Get a Website Domain Name

When the time comes to get a website domain name you’ll have a few different options. You can often get a free domain name by signing up for a new hosting account, or you can purchase a domain name separately through a domain name registrar.

Many hosting companies also act as domain name registrars, however, there are also registrars that focus solely on helping you secure a domain name.

If you want your hosting and domain name all under one roof then it’s recommended that you find a hosting company that also lets you purchase a domain name (HostGator is one of these!), as companies who function primarily as a dominant name registrar, but also have add-on hosting might not be able to offer your site the hosting performance you require.

register domain name

Now that that’s out of the way it’s time to buy your very own domain name.


1. Purchase Hosting With an Add-on Domain

One of the easiest ways to purchase a domain name is to buy it through a hosting company that also offers domain registration services, like HostGator.

Since you’re going to have to purchase hosting anyways, this can be one of the easiest ways to do it.

In some cases you may even be able to get a free domain name included with your hosting package, depending on the specials being run at that time.

To buy a website domain from HostGator, just follow the steps below:

  1. Navigate to https://www.hostgator.com/domains
  2. Input your URL of choice to see if it’s available
  3. Go through the steps to purchase your domain and set up your account

You’ll also have the opportunity to add hosting to your existing domain before checkout if you don’t have a hosting account already.

register domain name with web hosting

2. Purchase a Domain Without Hosting

If you’ve decided to purchase a domain through a stand-alone registrar then you’ll need to purchase hosting separately in order to have a website live on the internet.

When choosing a domain name registrar make sure that you pick a reputable registrar. The last thing you want is the registrar to go out of business, and lose your domain name, or have to go through the domain transfer process.

One common domain name registrar we recommend is Domain.com.

To purchase a domain from one of these sources just type in your domain of choice on the home screen, see if it’s available, then go through the purchase and account setup process.

Keep in mind that you’ll also need to forward your nameservers towards your hosting account (that you purchase separately), and add the domain to the backend of your hosting account.

If this process sounds too technical for you, then it’s recommended that you purchase a domain from a provider that also offers hosting.


Common Domain Name Questions

Chances are you probably still have questions related to getting your domain name. Below you’ll find answers to some of the most common questions:


What’s the best domain name extension?

A domain name extension is the part of your URL that follows the period, so, .com, .org, .net, etc.

There are tons of different extensions for you to choose from, but the best is still .com. It’s one of the easiest to remember and is the most authoritative out of the bunch.


What are nameservers?

Your nameservers will forward your URL to your host, so it can display your website’s files.

To change your nameservers you’ll need to navigate to your domain manager within the registrar you’ve chosen.

Next, find the nameservers for your current domain, select, ‘use custom nameservers’, and change those nameservers to the ones provided by your host.


Should I buy a domain at auction?

Sometimes you’ll be able to find a single word domain that’s available at auction. It can be tempting to pick up these domains, but often they’ll be incredibly pricey. Sometimes they range up into the multiple thousands of dollars.

For those just getting started online, it’s recommended to avoid purchasing a domain through auction and instead, purchase your own cheaper custom domain.

Hopefully, you have a better understanding of why a domain is important and the steps you can take to get your very own domain name.

Kevin Wood writes about technology and human potential. You can find him at his virtual homes Wooden Writing and Counter Culturist.