The first step in building a strong online brand presence is registering a domain. Business domain name registration is simple—search for available website domain names, choose the best option for your business, and check out to register your domain. It’s also affordable, at around $10 to $15 per year through a domain registrar, or you can even register a domain for free with a web or email hosting plan.
Here are the steps for registering a domain to use for your website and business email:
1. Search for Available Domain Names
To register a website domain name, you first need to understand what a domain name is and whether the URL you want is available. For branding purposes, your domain will ideally include your business’ name. However, you may find that your top choice is already taken. If this happens, try out variations, add keywords, or incorporate the name of your location (e.g., city or state) to come up with an alternative that will work.
Here are a few tips for choosing a domain name:
- Start with your business name: The most memorable website address (URL) for your website will usually be your business name. If it’s not available, think of variations that might work. For example, for a gourmet hot dog restaurant in New York City called John’s Hot Dogs, if www.johnshotdogs.com is unavailable, consider something like www.johnsdogs.com.
- Use a domain name generator: Most popular domain name registrars have domain search engines that offer suggestions if your top choice is taken. Type in your first option (or multiple options), and it will show you a list of alternatives, including alternate domain extensions (e.g., .org, .net, .co, and so on) that could allow you to get the exact domain name you want.
- Incorporate a keyword: If your business name isn’t available, consider adding a keyword. Using the example above, this might look like www.johnsgourmethotdogs.com. You can find keywords with high search volume related to your business using a free keyword research tool like Semrush or Ahrefs.
- Add a location signifier: For businesses that serve local clientele, using a city or state abbreviation in the domain name can be useful for customers searching for your products or services in your area. For instance, consider something like www.johnshotdogsnyc.com.
- Choose the right extension: The domain extension appears after the main part of your business domain name, such as .com, .org, .store, or .net. There are several extensions you can choose from, but the most common is .com. Read more about .org vs .com extensions and decide which is best for your domain name.
Your choice of domain is crucial. It should be memorable, on-brand, and help you build a strong brand presence. If you’re not sure you have the perfect URL in mind yet, read through the six steps for choosing a domain name that is best for your brand and business.
2. Compare the Best Business Domain Name Registration Options
There are several options for registering a domain name. For example, you can purchase a domain individually through a domain registrar or get a free domain name when bundled with a website builder, a web hosting service, or a business email hosting plan.
Here are the main ways to register a website domain for a business:
- Domain registrar: When you just need a domain name and nothing else (e.g., web hosting or business email), you can quickly buy a domain from a top web domain registration provider like IONOS or Domain.com. Get additional information about the best domain name registrars.
- Website builders: Site builders offer the fastest and easiest way for small businesses to get online. Several of the best website builders come with a free domain name, including leading site builders Squarespace, Weebly, and Wix.
- WordPress web hosting service: Many WordPress web hosting providers include a free domain name in web hosting plans. Both Bluehost and DreamHost have plans that include a free domain and email addresses, and DreamHost has BoldGrid, a WordPress page builder that make it far easier to build a site with WordPress.
- Email hosting: IONOS offers several budget-friendly products with a free domain name, including email hosting, website hosting, and low-cost website builder plans from $1 per month the first year.
In addition, hosting companies like DreamHost, Bluehost, and IONOS all have domain name generators that you can use when setting up a product that includes a free domain. Likewise, Squarespace, GoDaddy, and other hosting and site builder providers also make it easy to find and register a domain as part of purchasing your plan.
3. Complete the Process of Registering Your Domain
To finish registering your domain, proceed with the checkout process. Simply add your desired domain name to the cart at the provider you decided was best for your business and follow the checkout procedures.
Once you register a website domain name, you will see ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) mentioned in the business domain name registration process. ICANN is a nonprofit organization that manages all namespaces (domain names) in an online database. Whether your ICANN registration includes your contact information depends on whether your provider offers private registration.
When you register a domain name, the information you provide in your domain registration may be displayed publicly, which is not optimal. If you want this information hidden, make sure you opt for domain name privacy with your hosting plan, or use a registrar like Google Domains with domain name privacy included.
Pro tip: Domain name privacy is strongly suggested to keep your info private and reduce spam. Registering a domain name through IONOS and Google Domains includes free private registration, and all-in-one site hosting and builder plans from Squarespace include a domain with private registration as well.
Website Domain Statistics to Know Before Getting a Domain
Registering a domain for your business’ website and email is one of the most important things you can do to establish and build your brand’s presence online. Make sure you take the time to choose a URL that represents your business well, is unique and memorable, and is also easy to spell. Here are some website domain statistics that may influence your choice of URL and registrar:
- There are 1,591 top-level domains (TLDs, e.g., .com, .net, .org, and so on) available.
- However, .com domains are the most popular (and competitive); 52.8% of registered URLs are .com.
- Business domains that end in .com are also 33% more memorable than their counterparts—a testament to this domain extension’s consistent popularity.
- Still, other memorable extensions (like .net and .org) exist. Currently, .net holds around 3.1% of the market. See which is better for your business—.com or .net.
- .org is another popular TLD, with 10.5 million registrations. Compare .org vs .com to learn more.
- Though it may be tempting to go for a less popular TLD to get the exact name you want, some TLDs may paint your business in a negative light. For example, the .gdn extension has over 46,000 registrations, with nearly 42,000 being malicious links.
- Likewise, 56.3% of .shop domains are spammy links.
- The registrar you choose doesn’t affect your URL, as long as it’s ICANN-registered: there are 1,000-plus ICANN accredited registrars around.
- GoDaddy is the most popular of these registrars, with 77.9 million registered domains.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do I permanently buy a domain?
Domain name registration isn’t permanent, but your registration will automatically renew for as long as you continue to pay for your domain or hosting-with-domain plan. Usually, registration is yearly, subject to renewal, but some providers allow you to pay in advance for up to 10 years. In addition to your domain, see what other website costs come along with building a small business website.
Can a business name be a domain name?
Yes, depending on availability, your business name can be your domain name. In fact, it’s optimal for brand awareness and to ensure your website URL is memorable. Once registered, you can also set up email addresses with your business name as your domain for instant credibility. Read our step-by-step guide on how to set up a free business email address on your domain.
How can I find out who owns a domain name I want to buy?
The easiest way to find out who owns a domain name is to head to the website URL and see if there’s a contact form. Reach out to the owner and see if they’re willing to sell you the domain name. If there’s no way to contact the owner (or if the owner is unresponsive), you can conduct a WHOIS search to get publicly listed contact information through ICANN.
You can complete your business domain name registration in minutes through a registry or web host. The best way to get a free domain is with a Bluehost web hosting plan, especially if you plan to build a website on your domain. Plans start at $2.95 per month and include a domain, free email addresses, site security, and WordPress installation, making it easy to build your brand presence online.