While many of us don’t see it this way, the internet, the web, or whatever you want to call it, is a different world than our own. We like to think we understand it… that we have a grasp of what it offers, and that we control it, but we don’t.
We are pioneers and explorers, but we are not masters of this strange land. Instead of bargaining for acres of land or the rights to entire countries, we have divided this new frontier into domains.
Don’t worry, I’ll show you how to register a domain name over the course of this piece, so that you too can carve your place in this infinite realm of data, blogs, and cat pictures.
My friends, this represents the first step in how to start a blog, but it is indeed a crucial one.
After all, you cannot build a house, nor a village or a city unless you have land to build upon.
Now, it’s time to learn how you can create and register a domain name of your very own.
I Love the Pioneer Metaphor, But What Exactly is a Domain Name?
In essence, this is the URL that people use to find your website.
Think of it like your virtual address but instead of visitors sending mail or calling before they show up, you want people to just waltz on in, because that’s called traffic, and you want it on your website. Throw away all your concepts of the real world where people hate traffic, and addresses are private.
In this world, you want people to show up unannounced, and you want your website to look like a weekday five o’clock gridlock on a major highway. Website visitors, traffic, these are things you want and need to succeed.
That being said, your domain is a full unique name that is known as an “identification string” which is a fancy way of saying that it’s a way to show a slice of the internet that is under some sort of authority or control (a website owned by you for example).
The entire purpose of a domain name is to provide an easily recognizable and accessible Internet Protocol (IP) resource.
There are plenty of reasons why these things exist that delve into way more complex terms that the one above, but ultimately the purpose of a domain is to provide a means of locating a web site on the internet. More than all of this though, we use our URL addresses these days to craft a means of attracting people to our site.
The problem is that no two domain names can be the same. That’s why you see extensions of the website that end in .com, .org, .net, and so on. This allows for variations, but it’s no secret that there are a lot of domain names out there. That is why you should come up with a unique blog name that can translate into an equally unique domain.
So, a final review of what we’ve seen here: a domain name is your unique address that leads to the slice of the internet you have claimed as your own.
Were it not for Google, this would be the only way for people to find you, and it would be the only way you could reach out to them. This name will be used by search engines like Google, in conjunction with your content, to help people find your blog. In short, it’s important.
I Need an Adult, I Don’t know How to Register a Domain!
These headers get a little out of control sometimes, don’t mind them.
Seeing as how there are millions upon millions of currently registered domain names, you may be feeling a little worried about yours and whether it will be available.
Your concern is valid, but don’t let it become a fear. There’s always options to make it work.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, but know that one of your domain eggs is bound to hatch, provided you have more than one.
The process of registering your domain name is simple and easy. There are websites out there that will charge you up to thirty dollars a year for your domain name, which is just absurd, so don’t get pulled into that.
You can register just about anywhere these days, so don’t be afraid to look for a better price elsewhere.
A word of advice though, don’t use the ones that promise a free domain. These guys will lock you into their services and charge you way more than necessary for the second year.
In short, the process is really quite easy. It’s just a matter of finding the price and the service that you’re looking for. As I mentioned earlier, this is just a small part of the process. You’re also going to need a blogging platform, and a hosting service.
Many of the domain purchasing options will also include a hosting service. For example, if you decide to set up a website through Web Hosting Hub, you can get your domain name for a year and only pay $3.99 per month for your hosting service.
I HIGHLY recommend using Web Hosting Hub’s domain purchasing options.
All that’s left from there is to choose a blogging platform, and you’re good to go! Also, when you’re ready to register, here’s some screenshots to walk you through the process.
Matt Banner’s Step-by-Step Guide For Registering Your Domain: Now With Pictures!
Step 1: Start on the main page and click the orange button there.
Step 2: Click the “get started” button and head to the page below to enter the domain name and extension, and see if it’s available.
Step 3: Celebrate when you realize that you’re name is available! (Consider registering multiple extensions to protect your brand, and consider leaving the WHOIS Privacy on if you’d rather your information remain private)
What Makes a Great Domain Name?
You could just waltz into the website of your choice and start flinging around dollar bills like it’s going out of style, but I would humbly recommend a solid plan.
Let’s talk about the big rock concepts here like keywords, your brand name, which extensions to use, how to avoid using copyright material, and protecting your online privacy. Go Daddy put together a list of some helpful tips in choosing a domain name.
These are your top things to consider when you put together a domain name. Don’t worry, I’ll cover each one in detail so you’re empowered to make the decision that best fits your needs.
Using Keywords in Your Domain Name
You’ve probably heard me mention the term “Search Engine Optimization” or SEO several times over the course of the blog. It may feel like I’m beating a dead horse here, but this is something that you should absolutely strive to understand, at the very least on a basic level.
Moz’s guide for beginners is probably one of my favorite to brush up on.
It’s not something you can master overnight, or even in a lifetime because it’s always changing. You can, however, become accustomed to it and seek to understand it as time goes on.
You see, a few years ago, if you were to register a domain name that included specific keywords relating to your topic or brand, you would be golden. While it does make sense, practices like that don’t cut it anymore. It still helps, but there’s a lot more to the whole process now.
You see, Google had this huge update in October of 2012 which changed the playing field entirely (they love to do that). It was called EMD or Exact Match Domain. This was good because it helped push domain names with exact keyword phrases to the top of the list.
Everyone rushed to meet the new standard, but Google, being the moody search engine it is, decided to change things again the following year.
This update was called “Partial Match Domain.” In case you didn’t already guess, it evaluated websites only partially based on the relevance of their domain name. If they didn’t have social media influence, external linking, or other factors, they wouldn’t rank like they used to.
In short, placing keywords in the domain that are related to your blog or brand is good, but it’s not the end-all answer. Where it used to be the cat’s pajamas, now it’s more of a thread in the fabric. Your domain name plays a role, that much is true, but Google is honestly more concerned with the overall content of your site, not just the address you registered for it.
If you need some help in this category, here are some excellent tools for choosing a domain name. Sometimes all we need is that little push in the right direction.
Building a Brand Name
There’s something to be said about building a domain name that makes sense, but also pushes a specific brand. I love to use this example, so let’s consider Amazon.com. We all know what they sell, which is just about everything, but how does the name tell us that? Well, in short, it doesn’t.
The only reason why associate the name Amazon with the massively popular online retailer, is because they’ve built a brand around that name.
The dictionary definition of “Amazon” won’t be “an online retailer of various goods and services” but people will hear the word and think of them anyway. That’s the power of a brand name and a brand image.
Of course, they didn’t find that success overnight, that kind of branding takes years and countless hours of working to promote and spread the word. You may have a quirky and catchy idea for your domain name, but consider something that totes a healthy line between a brand name, and one that helps define your topic or niche.
There’s two ends to this spectrum, like most things, so you’ll need to weigh the options. See, if I wanted to register my name “SuspiciousCats.com” I could try and come up with a cool brand name like “SpyCats” but that doesn’t tell visitors much about the site.
On the other hand, I could go way overboard with the URL and do something like “haveyouevernoticedhowsuspiciouscatscanbe.com” and people won’t ever remember it, or even click on it because it’s just a garbled mess.
Like I said, there’s a balance to be found here, and there’s no shame in asking for help. Consider bouncing the name off of some friends and family members to see how it resonates with them.
Which Top Level Domain (or TLD) Should I Use?
All of them, just use all of them. I’m kidding, but it can sometimes be beneficial to register more than one extension of your domain name.
Obviously the .com extension is the most prominent and well known, but others like .net and .org have become increasingly popular, especially since the amount of .com names are through the roof.
While many people will tell you that you absolutely must go with a .com URL, if you have the perfect domain name and not a single variation of it will work on that extension, consider switching to a different one to preserve the quality of the domain name.
Ultimately the extension won’t harm you too much, it’s the name that really matters.
Another thing you may hear about, is purchasing multiple extensions for your domain. You’re probably wondering why that’s needed, but allow me to outline a scenario for you.
Let’s say you register the “SuspiciousCats.com” domain, but then someone else comes along and registers the same domain name under .org, or .net. It’s a different extension, so it counts, and now you’ve lost control of your brand.
Sounds scary, doesn’t it? Most business and serious bloggers will counteract this by purchasing the .net and .org versions of their domain name in addition to the .com one.
This allows you to forward all of the other extensions back to your main website and stops anyone else from messing with your brand. It’s more than a safety precaution, it’s a necessity when it comes to creating a reputable brand name.
Avoid Using Copyright Material
You may have built a blog with tons of great post ideas and all this awesome content, but it could be under fire from a major company or corporation if you registered a domain name that contains copyrighted material.
When we think of copyrights, we immediately think of things like Disney, or Coca-Cola, or other major companies. Obviously you don’t want to use their brand in your domain name, but what about smaller companies?
Not to worry, when you’ve come up with a cool brand name or domain URL, just search the government copyright records online and make sure no one else has a copyright or trademark around that concept. It’s best to check for these kinds of things beforehand so you don’t end up losing your domain over something silly.
Protecting Your Privacy
Many domain services will offer you the ability to keep your name and contact information private, for an extra charge.
There are benefits to either side of this equation, but namely, keeping your name private can save you from a lot of unneeded spam in both your inbox and on your phone.
If you register the domain name as private, you won’t show up on the global internet database, and while this won’t erase spam entirely, it will help alleviate the problem for you.
Some benefits of staying out of the limelight beyond the lack of spam, include the ability to speak freely without fear of someone lashing out at you or making threats because they managed to find your information.
The internet supports free speech and you should be able to say what you like on your own blog. Additionally, if you are a business owner, you don’t have time to sift through all kinds of spam mail.
With threats out there from hackers and people who are willing to exploit your information, it’s better to remain hidden from the public view, at least when it comes to your personal information.
You’ll be glad you chose this when your blog really takes off. You don’t need this kind of stuff slowing down the process of promoting your blog.
Some Final Tips to Maximize Your Domain Name’s Potential
As always, it’s been a blast, but here at On Blast Blog, I don’t know know any other setting.
Before we part ways though, I thought you would like a final, handy list of some additional tips that can help you put your domain name on blast and start off strong as you move into the realm of blogging.
- Make your Domain Name easy to remember and simple to type. Don’t use awkward letters like Q,X,V, Z or any others that are hard to reach.
- Don’t run long, keep the name short and sweet.
- Try to incorporate some relevant keywords, but don’t go out of your way to stuff it full of them.
- Appeal to your area, maybe incorporate the state or city name in the domain.
- Make sure it’s something catchy and easy to recall
- Research your competition and your topic before hand.
- Protect your brand by purchasing multiple extensions and forwarding them to the main site.
- Don’t wait too long, names are constantly getting crossed off the big list in the sky on a daily basis.
How did You Decide on a Domain Name?
Now that you know how to register a domain name, it’s time to make it happen. There’s no exact science to it, but I’ve done the best I can to empower you.
Now it’s your turn to empower me with more of that sweet knowledge. Use the comment box below to tell me your domain picking tips, and don’t forget to shoot me an email if you have something to tell me: it’s matt (at) onblastblog (dot) com.