Buying a domain is a necessity if you want to have a successful business website or other online venture. Fortunately, it’s easy enough to do — especially if you follow the instructions we provide here. In no time, you’ll have a domain you can use as a foundation for your online business.
In this guide, we will cover all the necessary steps for how to buy a domain name. These include finding a domain registrar, searching for an available domain, picking the right domain for your needs, finishing up the domain registration process, and finally, verifying that you own the domain name.
Recommended: In this guide, we will use examples from GoDaddy — our top choice for where to buy a domain name.
Getting Started with Domain Registration
Your business domain name is the web address where your customers can find your business website, products and services, contact information, and other important information online. In the United States, domain names typically end in .com. However, there are hundreds of TLDs, or top-level-domain extensions, to choose from including .net, .org, .us, and others. The most important thing to consider when buying a domain name is that the domain closely reflects your business or brand so that customers can find you easily.
There are countless websites found online, which means a lot of domain names are already taken. If an individual or organization owns a domain name, you can’t take ownership of it and use it — unless you can convince them to sell it to you or attempt to backorder it. That means you probably need to get creative to find the sweet spot between the domain name you want and what domain names are currently available.
To get started, follow these steps to buy a domain name for your business:
Step 1: Finding a Domain Registrar
A domain registrar is an organization that manages the buying, selling, and registration of domain names. They allow you to buy and host domain names inside their platform, transfer to third-party platforms, and can even park a domain until you’re ready to use it. GoDaddy is one of the largest domain registrars, claiming 84 million domains as of this writing.
But there are a lot of other registrars out there. You can buy a domain name from GoDaddy or transfer a domain name from another registrar to GoDaddy — just like you can with other domain registrars.
When choosing a domain registrar, make sure that they are accredited with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). This nonprofit requires that accredited registrars follow specific rules to keep the internet running smoothly.
Some of the factors you should consider when choosing a domain registrar include:
- Pricing: Domain registration cost varies with each domain registrar. Typically, the more you pay, the more features and benefits you get. Many registrars offer a lower introductory price and then boost the price after the first year.
- Domain Expiration Policy: Many registrars automatically renew your registration each year, so it’s important to pay attention to the fine print. You might be able to opt out of auto-renew, but that can also be risky if you really want to hold on to your domain name. Also, pay attention to the reminder policy to verify that the registrar will tell you about auto-renew and/or expiration before it happens.
- Domain Add-ons: Additional features like domain privacy protection are often available from registrars, but usually for an additional cost — especially after the first year. Registrars are required to provide your contact info to the WHOIS database, which keeps track of all domain registrations. Different privacy protections offered by registrars can help mask your contact info on WHOIS, making it less likely you will get things like spam calls.
- Ease of Domain Transfer: Moving a domain from one registrar to another is not too difficult, but there are rules that you have to follow and possibly some associated costs. For example, you must wait 60 days to transfer a domain after buying it. Both the current and new registrar have to go through the WHOIS database to make the transfer, so there can be complications that draw out the process. If you need to use the domain immediately, you can point your new domain to your web host while you wait for an official transfer. Each domain registrar will have instructions on how to do this within their platform.
We recommend buying a business domain from a reputable company like GoDaddy because it’s accredited, competitively priced, and offers all the add-ons you need to protect your privacy.
Step 2: Running a Domain Name Search
Now that you’ve found a registrar, it’s time to perform a domain name search. This is the part of the process where you search to see if the domain name you want is available.
It’s easy to get frustrated at this stage of the process if your ideal domain name is not available, but don’t lose hope. Many successful online ventures did not get their first pick of domain names. However, with a little creativity and patience, they did find something that worked for their needs and they were able to make their own.
To search for a domain, head to GoDaddy and just type in the domain in the search bar:
Note: If the domain you want is already taken, you can use the WHOIS tool to find that person’s information and ask for the domain. Sometimes owners are willing to part with a domain name, especially for the right price.
Step 3: Choosing Your Domain
The business domain name you choose will depend on multiple factors, including what names are available, your business type, your branding, and more. It’s a pretty personal decision, but there are some things to keep in mind:
- Make it brandable. You want people to remember your domain name, so avoid generic names if possible.
- Keep it short and sweet. Shorter domain names are easier to remember.
- No hyphens or numbers. If you can help it, don’t use hyphens or numbers. They are hard to remember and to type.
- Use niche keywords. Improve your search engine optimization (SEO) by using keywords related to your niche.
- Make it last. Try to plan for the future by keeping your domain name timeless. For example, no “businessname2020.”
One of the big questions many people have is what type of domain extension to get. There are multiple types of domain extensions, including the most popular: .com, .net, .edu, .org, and .gov. You can also choose from a lot of other options, like .life, .health, and .fun.
We recommend sticking with .com. It is the easiest to remember and the most commonly used. Even if your first choice domain is unavailable as a .com but is available as a .net domain, you would still want to go with a second choice .com to avoid confusion and possible conflicts with the .com domain owners. There are exceptions, like educational institutions using .edu and government sites using .gov, but for most small businesses .com is the way to go.
For example, we did a search for biztyme.com on GoDaddy and got this result:
Following our own advice, we are going to go with the alternative option offered by GoDaddy, tymebiz.com, since it’s cheaper and has a .com extension.
Step 4: Purchase and Complete the Domain Registration
After you have decided on the domain name you want, it’s time to purchase it and register it.
To buy a GoDaddy domain name, click “Add to Cart” and then click the “Cart” icon on the top right of the screen. (You can also go to your cart from the pop-up that appears on the right side of the screen when you add something to your cart.)
On the next few screens, you will have different options to choose from. They will vary depending on what registrar you are using. With GoDaddy, you can choose from things like whether you want the domain for more than a year, domain protection (a security feature), and other add-ons.
Registration is part of the purchasing process. For example, you input your contact info for the purchase, and GoDaddy uses that information to register the domain.
After you have filled out your information and completed the purchase, your domain will be registered under your name.
Step 5: Verifying Domain Name Ownership
The registrar should email you documentation to verify domain ownership. It typically takes between 24 hours and 72 hours to update the registries. You should be able to look up your domain and see that you own it on WHOIS within 48 to 72 hours.
If you have a domain on a different website and decide you want to use GoDaddy as your main service instead, then check out our how to transfer your domain to GoDaddy guide.
Tips for Buying a Domain Name
There are some things you can do to make the domain buying process as successful as possible:
- Know your target audience. When picking a domain name, be sure to choose a name that will make your target audience perk up and take notice.
- Get help brainstorming ideas. A friend, family member, or a group can make it much easier to come up with a list of great domain names.
- Be prepared to choose an alternative. Before you start looking, write a list of alternative domains so you have plenty of ideas if your top picks aren’t available.
- Premium domains get premium traffic. Better domains are more expensive, but they also get more traffic.
- Take advantage of our domain name generator. It’s a free tool that can quickly deliver multiple domain names at the click of a button.
The Best Time to Buy a Domain Name
When to buy a domain name varies from project to project, but we recommend doing it at the beginning of your journey to start a business. This way you can secure the best domain name for your business and branding.
Many entrepreneurs consider domain names to be digital assets. There are even domain name investors. Domain investors are actually a market that GoDaddy seeks out.
Whether or not domain investing is a viable strategy for most people, the fact that it exists demonstrates how valuable a domain can be. That’s why we encourage you to think carefully about what domain you choose and consider its long-term value.
Keep in mind that you can buy a domain name now and build a website later. If you have a great idea for a domain name the time to buy it is right now.
With these instructions and tips, you should be well-prepared to buy your domain name. We explained how to search for a domain, how to choose a domain name, and how to register that domain name. By following these steps, you can move from brainstorming to ownership quickly and effectively — and prepare to take full advantage of an online presence for your business.
Some domain names are certainly expensive, but many are not. We encourage you to work through the domain name selection process now and register that domain name. Then, you will be perfectly positioned to take full advantage of the potential of your new domain name.
Get Started With GoDaddy
GoDaddy makes it easy to search for and secure your own domain. Plus, with GoDaddy you can build and host your website all in the same place, making it even easier to get your business website up and running.