Step 1 – Registering a Domain Name

Most of you know what a domain is but for those of you that don’t, it’s simply what you type in a browser to reach a website. For example, the domain name for this website is WPFashionista.com. As discussed in our introduction, domains help build your brand and allow people to remember and find you easily rather than typing in a long URL like http://wpfashionista.wordpress.com. As you’ll learn in the next step, a domain connects to a webhosting company where your website and files will actually reside.

How to choose a domain name

Picking a good domain is neither an art or a science. Quite often we always want the ‘perfect’ domain name to only realize that it’s already been registered. Yes, you can actually buy used domains but typically they are least double the cost (sometimes into the hundreds or thousands) and may have been used for illegitimate purposes that can trickle over. There are, however, some best practices I like to follow when buying a domain name. They are as follows:

  • Only .com, .net, or .org – I always try to register a .com first. If I find out the .com I want is taken then I may consider a .net or .org. Never consider registering odd extensions like .info or .biz. It’s rumored but not necessarily true that .com, .net, and .org rank better in search engines.
  • Shorter is usually better – Keep it simple when registering a domain. Longer domain names usually come off spammy and are hard to brand around. Registering a domain around your name usually works great too.
  • Brandable vs keyword rich – Having keywords in your domain that are relevant to what you plan to blog about is great and usually helps boost your search engine rankings. However, the tradeoff is brandability. For example a domain like BestPromDressesForTeens.com would be hard to brand. Think long term goals vs short term gains. A mixture of keyword rich and brandable is an win.
  • No odd characters – Try to use characters like dashes or numbers without merit. For example, let’s say WeddingDresses.com is taken but Wedding-Dresses.com or 1WeddingDresses.com is available. While it could work, you are better off registering a brand new unique domain name. People will most likely have trouble finding you since it’s closely related.
  • Avoid trademark issues – Never register a domain with a trademark unless you like receiving cease and desist letters in the mail. If you’re a Starbucks junky don’t register StarbucksGirl.com for example. Again that’s why I push for registering your own unique domain to build a brand.

Where to buy a domain name?

Registering a domain can be done at many different websites as they all ultimately produce the same end result. I recommend using Namecheap since they offer great prices and have no hard upsells for useless add-ons. Regardless of which domain registrar you use, you should not pay more than $12 per year for your domain. If you plan to take this seriously then you should even consider registering for more than one year.

Another great plus about Namecheap is that they offer free WhoisGuard for the first year. WhoisGuard is a service that shields your personal information from people when they look up the registrant of a domain. For peace of mind we highly recommend enabling this and renewing this after the first year. You can skip any other add-on they offer.

When registering your domain make sure to check off “Enable WhoisGuard” and to use the default name servers for now. It’s up to you if you want to automatically renew the domain and WhoisGuard. See below for clarification.

domain

The next steps…

Congrats, you’ve successfully registered your first domain through Namecheap by now but it’s too early to celebrate as we now now need to setup your hosting before we can even install WordPress.

Click here to head to step 2