A domain name is the website address people type into their browser to visit your site, such as www.yourbusiness.com. Every website is required to have a domain name as it’s how people find and view sites from the web. Domains cost around $12 to $15 per year and can be purchased directly from a domain name registrar.
Tip: Get a free domain name through your web host, such as Bluehost, or site builder, such as Squarespace. Not only can that save you money, but by getting one directly from them, it also saves you time as your domain will connect to your site automatically. That way, you don’t have to deal with the hassle of connecting your domain to your website manually.
How Much Does a Domain Name Cost?
Domain names usually cost $12 to $15 per year when purchased from domain name registrars. You can also save money by registering a domain for a more extended period, such as five years at a time.
While the process of finding and purchasing a domain name through a registrar is more or less the same from each provider, it’s worth noting that registrars are not the only―nor the best―way to get a domain. Instead, businesses can get a free domain name through their web hosting provider or site builder.
Where Can I Register a Domain Name?
Domain names can be registered in several ways, including through domain name registrars, such as GoDaddy and HostGator, or for free through web hosting plans and site builders, such as Bluehost, DreamHost, and Squarespace. If you plan to connect a domain to your WordPress site, you will need a third-party web hosting plan, so it’s worth choosing one that includes one for free.
Domain Name Registrar Comparison
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Free with a web hosting plan
Cost to Add Domain Name Privacy
Included for free
Email Hosting Included
✔ - with website plans
✔ - with web hosting plans
✔ - with web hosting plans
$20 per user, per year
24/7 via phone and live chat
24/7 via phone and live chat
24/7 via phone and live chat
7 days a week via phone and tickets
For more information and to help make a decision, get the full breakdown of the best domain name registrars.
How Can I Get a Free Domain Name?
Free domain names are widely available through service providers that businesses need, like through web hosting or site builder plans. These types of providers frequently include a free domain name as part of a plan. That means that a large number of website owners will already be eligible to receive a free domain name, which can be registered at no cost through their providers.
Here are two legit ways to a free domain name with a purchase:
- Web hosting: Many of the top web hosting providers include a free domain name with hosting plans. If you’re planning to build a site using WordPress, you’re going to need web hosting anyway, so you might as well get your free domain. Some of the top providers that include a free domain include Bluehost, DreamHost, and HostGator.
- Site builder plans: If you’re looking for an easy way to build your professional website, site builders such as Squarespace and Wix include a free domain name with premium plans, which cost around $12 per month.
Still not sure where to register your domain name? Take the quiz!
How Do I Choose a Domain Name?
Domain names are used to identify and locate a website, so it’s essential to choose a domain name that represents your business and is easy for customers to remember. In an ideal world, your domain name would be the same as your business’ name. However, finding an available domain name can be a challenge and often becomes a process of trial and error, which means choosing alternatives that are still recognizable by doing things such as adding your location.
Here are five tips on choosing a domain name:
- Keep it short and recognizable
- Build trust with a .com, .io, or .co
- Consider how it will affect your site’s ranking in search engines
- Include your location if your desired name is not available
- Reduce spam with a private domain registration
If you’re still struggling to find a domain name that suits your business and is available, then visit our guide to choosing a domain name.
How to Get a Domain Name in 3 Easy Steps
The process of getting a domain name does not have to be difficult. It can be done in just three simple steps. First, choose where you will get your domain from. This could be either directly from a domain name registrar or for free through your web hosting provider. Next, make a list of your desired domain names. Then, search to find which of your desired domain names are available. After finding one of interest, go ahead and complete the registration.
Here’s how to get a domain name in just three steps.
1. Make a List of Your Desired Domain Names
The first step is to brainstorm what you would like your domain name to be. Ideally, your domain would be the same as your business name. However, for most, this won’t be available. Create a list of suitable domain name ideas that include your business name as well as different identifiers like keywords or your location.
Example: A San Diego-based cafe called Roast Cafe is building a business website and needs to find a suitable domain name. With the knowledge that it’s difficult to find an available domain, the owner brainstorms domain name ideas and creates a list of different variations, such as roastcafe.com, roastsd.com, roastcafesd.com, visitroast.com, roast.cafe, and drinkroast.com.
2. Choose a Domain Name Provider
Next, choose where you will get your domain name from. While there are domain name registrars, such as a GoDaddy and Google Domains, many businesses can get a free domain through a service provider they are already using, like web hosting or a site builder plan such as with Squarespace, Wix, or Weebly.
Here are the top three ways to get a domain name and corresponding providers:
- Domain name registrars like GoDaddy, Hover, and Namecheap
- Web hosting providers like Bluehost, HostGator, and DreamHost
- All-in-one website builders like Squarespace, Weebly, and Wix
Note: All domain name providers―whether through a domain name registrar, web hosting company, or all-in-one website builder―connect to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). This means that it doesn’t matter which site you search for a domain name with, all providers are connected to ICANN and will, therefore, show the same results.
3. Search for & Register Your Domain
With your list of desired names, it’s time to search for those names to find which are available. For example, if you’re getting a free domain through a Bluehost web hosting plan, you can use the search bar below. When you find an available domain name, secure it by following the simple registration process. Get more guidance on domain name registration.
Pro tip: One thing to consider is whether you should register your domain name privately. This is an option offered by registrars that will help reduce the amount of spam you receive. Otherwise, your personal information, such as your name and address, will be available publicly, often leading to a great deal of spam.
What’s Next: Connect Your Domain Name
After registering your domain name, the next step is to connect it to your website or the content management system (CMS) your site is built on, like WordPress or Squarespace. There are different ways to do this, depending on which CMS you are using. Those building a new site with WordPress should use one-click WordPress installation, whereas those with an existing WordPress site and those using a site builder will need to connect it manually.
Using One-click WordPress Installation
Who it’s right for: Those building a new website with WordPress.
The top web hosting companies, such as Bluehost, DreamHost, and HostGator, offer a free one-click WordPress installation tool, which connects your domain to WordPress automatically. To use this, navigate to your web hosting provider’s site, log in, and find the “One-Click WordPress Installation” tool from your user dashboard.
Connect Your Domain Manually
Who it’s right for: Those with an existing website who purchased a domain from a registrar.
If you already have a WordPress site or are using a drag-and-drop site builder, such as Squarespace or Weebly, and you have purchased a domain name separately from a domain name registrar, you will connect your domain manually by connecting nameservers and updating your domain name system (DNS) settings.
We’ve put together this list to help you get exact step-by-step information for your CMS:
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What’s the difference between a domain & a subdomain?
A domain name serves as the name of your website. Domains represent an internet protocol (IP) address so that users can type in a web address like www.business.com rather than an IP address like 184.108.40.206. Subdomains act as an extension of a domain like www.support.business.com. While it can be tempting to use a free subdomain, those building a business website should always use their own domain to appear professional and credible.
Does a business need to get a .com?
Until recently, businesses needed to use a .com. to appear legitimate. While the .com is still the leading domain extension, there are now many choices businesses have, like .org or .io. When choosing a domain extension, consider which extensions suit your business type. For example, only an educational institution would use a .edu, whereas, say, software-as-a-service (SaaS) businesses often use a .io. Learn more about domain name extensions.
Should I get a domain name from a registrar or through a website builder?
What many businesses don’t realize until after they’ve purchased a domain name through a domain name registrar is that they will often receive a free domain name through their web hosting plan or site builder plan. Before buying a domain name separately, check to see if your web hosting or site builder plan comes with a free domain name.
Bottom Line: What Is a Domain Name
Domain names are web addresses like www.yourbusiness.com used to identify and make websites accessible to users. Every business website needs to have its own custom domain name to maintain a professional web presence. Domain names can be purchased easily through domain name registrars for around $12 to $15 per year, but you can also get one for free through your web hosting provider, such as Bluehost or Squarespace.