Updated: 2nd August 2019
You’ve spent some time researching for your brand or business and you’re getting super excited about your website. You’ve spent time thinking about your ideal name… but how do you see if it’s available? And if it is, how do you register a domain name as quickly as possible so someone else can’t snag it?
Don’t panic because looking at the availability of a domain and actually purchasing one are quick and easy… and I’m going to show you how.
But if you haven’t got as far as choosing domain name yet, or you have one in mind that you’ve not really thought through, it’s worth spending some time on this to avoid a problem in the future.
But I want to get going fast!
Slow down for just a second.
You will spend a long time creating your brand, building your website and beefing up content on it. You will have wasted time and effort if you discover two years down the line that your domain name sucks. This will have actually held you back.
If you don’t have a name for your idea yet, have a quick read of this article: Choosing a Domain Name.
But if have a name in mind, then please continue reading.
Is Your Domain Name Available?
So we’ve established at this point you have a well thought through name and you’re ready to purchase it… but is it available?
Well, it’s quite easy to check whether or not someone else has beaten you to the name and already registered it.
Perhaps the most simple way of doing this is to use the search tools within a domain registration service. A search such as this will look up the domain for you, let you know if it’s available and how much you’ll have to pay for it.
Which Registrar Should You Use?
There are literally hundreds of reliable registration services you can use to register a domain name. But for the example today I’m going to use Namecheap, which is one of the registrar services I use personally.
Why do I use Namecheap?
Namecheap is an ICANN-accredited registrar (ICAAN is the primary organization responsible for maintaining information about Internet domains and managing IP numbers), so it is a registrar that adheres to ICANN policies.
Apart from being ICANN-registered, I find Namecheap domains to be reasonably priced and I’ve always had a good experience with them going back to around 2007.
Alongside domain name registration, Namecheap also offers web hosting, which is something else you’ll need to put make your site available on the Web. We can talk about this another time.
Checking the Availability of Your Domain with Namecheap
Firstly visit the Namecheap homepage: it’ll look something like this.
Now you don’t need to register for an account as yet, as you might decide to purchase your domain with another service… that’s up to you of course.
On the homepage there is a search bar that you can use to check on your domain. If you type your desired domain into this and click search, Namecheap will tell you whether or not this domain is available.
So, to show you how this works I’ll check on a great idea I’ve had for a new domain name google.com… it just came to me out of the blue.
And this is the result…
You can see that Namecheap is telling me that the name is already taken, which is a little disappointing as I think it’s quite memorable!
Nevermind… I’ll look for another one. This time I’ll try mynewkillerdomainname.com:
The domain is available, as confirmed by the tick next to it at the top of the page, and you can also see how much you will have to pay for it to own it for one year.
Registering Your Domain Name
To proceed and purchase your domain from Namecheap, you just need to add the domain to the cart by clicking the “add to cart” button and move onto actually purchasing it.
When you click the button to add the domain to the cart you’ll see a confirmation in the cart area on the page… something like this:
You can click to view the contents of the cart, which will load the shopping cart page:
Prior to completing your purchase with Namecheap, you will see an option to enable WhoisGuard.
What is WhoisGuard?
WhoisGuard is Namecheap’s WHOIS privacy service that conceals the personal details of domain ownership from appearing in the WHOIS database. WHOIS is a tool used for storing the names of registered owners of domain names, you can find out more about it here:
What is WHOIS?
Now if you are particularly concerned about your privacy you can opt to enable WhoisGuard (the first year is often free, with subsequent years possibly requiring a payment)… that choice is yours.
For me, I am happy to show my details to ensure that people who make a WHOIS search on my domain can see that I am a real person. Some people are not so eager to make this information available, which is understandable
Anyway, once you have decided whether or not you want WHOIS privacy, you can click the order confirmation button, which will take you to a page with an option to create an account:
From here on, it’s a matter of adding your account creation details, adding your payment details at the prompt and confirming your order again.
If you do this and the transaction completes successfully… congratulations! You will now be the owner of a shiny new domain name!
It really is that simple to register a domain name!
Other Domain Name Registration Services
As I mentioned earlier, there are hundreds of domain registrars you can use. According to Domain Name Stat, The 10 most widely used registration services in 2018 were as follows:
- Tucows Domains
- HiChina Zhicheng Technology Limited
- Registrar of Domain Names
- Network Solutions
- Alibaba Cloud Computing
You can see how these compare against one another in this article: The 10 Biggest Domain Registration Services in 2018
Domain Registrars I Use
The domain registration services I have used from the above list are Namecheap, GoDaddy and Network Solutions.
I still use these services today with Namecheap perhaps being the one I use most frequently. NameCheap is the 3rd largest domain registration company in terms of total number of domains registered.
I also use Reg-123 for purchasing domains that end in .co.uk.
A long time ago I used to use RegisterFly, until they had their ICANN-accredited status taken away in 2007 due to financial management irregularities and went bankrupt shortly afterwards. The 855,000 domains they were managing at the time they went under were taken over by GoDaddy… but how I got stung by this is another story!
- Check the domain name to see if the one you want is available
- Choose a Registrar
- You might want to shop around as domain name prices vary from one registrar to another.
- Most registrars will allow you to register a domain name for up to 10 years – but remember, purchasing a domain means that you are effectively renting that domain for the period you choose. You don’t have exclusive ownership of that domain name forever… but you do have first dibs on it when it comes to renewing.
- Decide if you want to hide your personal details using a form of WHOIS protection.
- Purchase your domain name and start to build your site!
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading!
Please share your own experiences in the comments section below or feel free to ask me a question.