If you want to establish yourself online and build up a personal brand or online business, the first step to start is to buy a domain name.

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

How to Buy a Website Domain Name

When the time comes to get a website domain name you’ll have a few different options.

  1. You can often get a free domain name by signing up for a new hosting account, or
  2. You can purchase a domain name separately through a domain name registrar.

Many web 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. Sign up for a new hosting account and get a domain included.

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.

Some companies even offer a free domain name when you purchase a hosting package. Since you’re going to have to purchase hosting anyways, you can take advantage of the “all in one” purchase price that some companies offer.

To buy a website domain from HostGator, 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 aren’t ready to launch your website yet, but you want to reserve your perfect domain, consider purchasing a domain without hosting. You can buy your domain name now and select a hosting plan later.

Many website companies will allow you to transfer a domain name that you already own.

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.

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 start the process of actually getting a domain name for your new website! Visit HostGator’s domain name checker to see if your domain name is available!

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