This article is part of a larger series on Small Business Websites.
To build a professional and credible online presence for your business, your first step is getting a domain. The process of business domain name registration is simple and affordable, at around $12-$15 per year through a domain name registrar or free with a web hosting plan. Just search for the domain name of your choice, choose the best option, and check out to register your domain.
1. Search for Available Domain Names
To register a domain name for a business, you first need to find out if the domain name 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 registered or owned by another business. If this happens, try out variations or add keywords or your location to come up with an alternative that will work.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when choosing a domain name:
- Start with your business name: See if your business name is available as your domain. If not, think of variations that might suffice. 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.
- Research relevant keywords: If your business name isn’t available, consider adding a keyword. Use a keyword tool like Ubersuggest to find keywords with high search volume that relate to your business. Using the example above, this might look like www.johnsgourmethotdogs.com.
- Use 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: A domain extension is what appears after the main part of your domain such as the .com or .net. There are a number of extensions you can choose from, but the most common is the .com.
Need more help? Learn more about how to choose a domain name.
2. Compare Registration Options
Once you have chosen an available domain, the next step is to compare the ways you can register it. Most commonly, business domain name registration is completed through a domain registrar, a website builder, or a web hosting service. If you’re planning on building a website, the best way is to choose a website builder first, as most include a free domain name in paid plans.
If you are going to build a WordPress website, start with a web hosting service like Bluehost or DreamHost. Domains are included free in hosting packages along with other services such as a WordPress website builder and business email. In addition, they have domain name generators to show you some alternatives if your top choice is taken.
Starting with an all-in-one site builder or web hosting plan streamlines the process and eliminates the need to manually connect your domain to your hosting or small business website all-in-one site builder plan after the fact. Here are the three main ways to register a domain for a business:
- Domain name registrar: When you just need a domain name and nothing else (e.g., web hosting or email addresses), purchase your domain from a domain registrar like Google Domains or GoDaddy. Get additional information about the best domain name registrars.
- WordPress hosting service: Many WordPress web hosting providers include a free domain name with web hosting plans. Bluehost and DreamHost have plans that include a free domain and email addresses, and both have WordPress website builders that make it far easier to build a site with WordPress.
- Website builders: Most all-in-one website builders come with a free domain name, including leading site builders like Squarespace, Weebly, and Wix. Site builders offer the fastest and easiest way for small businesses to get online.
3. Checkout & Complete the Business Domain Name Registration Process
To finish registering a domain name for your business, proceed with the checkout process. Simply add your desired domain name to the cart and follow the checkout procedures.
When you register a domain, 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, as domain name privacy comes standard.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do I permanently buy a domain?
Domain names can’t be owned permanently, but once registered, will automatically renew for as long as you continue to pay for your domain or hosting-with-domain plan. Usually, registration is on a yearly basis subject to renewal, but some providers allow you to pay in advance for up to 10 years. Buying a domain is just one of the expenses when building a website–find out what else is involved in our article explaining how much building a website costs.
What is ICANN?
Once you register your domain name, you will see ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) mentioned in the domain registration process. ICANN is a nonprofit organization that manages all namespaces (domain names) and is an online database for all domain names.
Can a business own a domain name?
Yes, individuals or business entities may register a domain, and will indicate ownership details during the checkout process. Once registered, businesses can also set up email addresses with the domain for instant online credibility. Read our step-by-step guide on how to set up a free business email address on your domain.
Business domain name registration can be done in minutes through a domain registrar or web host by searching for available domain names and completing the checkout process. The best way to get a free domain is with a Bluehost web hosting plan. Plans start at $2.95 per month and include a domain, free email addresses, site security, WordPress installation, and a WordPress site builder, making it very easy to establish and grow your presence online.