Branded Content by Geeky Way
Buying a domain name is often an exciting experience, whether it’s your very first domain or the 100th! But before you get to that, there are two less fun tasks to go through: the first is to find the perfect available domain name, and the second is to find a reliable registrar where you can buy (or register) the chosen name.
Domains are quite cheap these days, thanks to the fierce competition among many registrars out there. But since each provider has total freedom to set their own pricing, some charge unjustifiably high prices and a lot of customers end up paying more than double the average price without getting any significant advantages in return.
Although price matters, it shouldn’t be the only factor in mind when on the hunt for a good registrar. You certainly don’t want to pick the cheapest deal and end up hassling with a terrible support service or frequent technical problems. You want a solid service and a helpful support team, especially if you are registering a domain for your small business.
Another key feature to seek in a domain registrar is a domain privacy service, aka Whois privacy. This will ensure that all your personal data associated with your domain name (personal name, email, phone number and address) are kept hidden from the public Whois database and thus can’t be harvested by spam bots or abused in any other way.
And with that in mind, the following are five of the best domain name registrars that offer affordable registration services with Whois privacy and other useful features.
Dynadot has some of the lowest prices on the market for domain registrations. They are often highly praised by domainers who maintain a large number of domains, not only because of the competitive pricing, but also because unlike other companies that keep raising their fees, Dynadot seems to stick to their low fees and rarely jacks up prices.
Each domain name registered with them gets free Whois privacy (for eligible TLDs). If you enable full privacy setting for your account, then each new domain name you purchase will automatically have Whois privacy protection enabled.
As for account security, you have the option to enable two-factor authentication, and they also have an account lock feature that requires you to provide your birthday in order to unlock your account and be able to perform certain actions, such as transferring a domain out of your account.
The control panel is neat and easy to use. They allow you to add prepaid funds to your account as credit to be used for faster future orders or automatic renewals. If you enable auto-renewal for your domain and you have credit in your account, you won’t have to worry about accidental expiration in case you forget to manually renew it in time.
Note: When you login to your Dynadot account for the first time, it will ask you to provide your birthday. It doesn’t have to be your real birthday, so you can provide any other value, but you must be able to remember it later because you’ll need it to unlock your account for certain modifications. If you forget the birthday you entered during sign-up, they may ask you for documents to verify your identity, so make sure to remember it to avoid any inconvenience later on.
Dynadot offers discounted first-year prices for many TLDs and low renewal fees. At the time of writing this article, they’re selling a .com for $9.99 per year, which renews at the same price.
Key Features and Benefits
Free, automatic Whois privacy.
Secure website with user-friendly interface.
Account lock and two-factor authentication.
Can add prepaid account credit for faster checkouts and auto-renewals.
The company is committed to keeping low registration and renewal fees.
Prompt support service via live chat, phone and email.
Visit the official Dynadot website to learn more about their services and current prices.
For many years now, NameCheap has been one of the most affordable domain registrars for most extensions (TLDs). This is a very reputable registrar that appeals to both beginners and professionals. Many domainers favor them because they offer considerable discounts as part of their VIP Rewards Club (you need to have 50+ domains to join).
The control panel is easy to use and includes all the tools and functions you’d ever need to efficiently manage your domains. The site has a comprehensive knowledgebase that includes useful self-help articles, and in case you need any technical help, you can get quick answers via their live chat support.
NameCheap offers free Whois privacy protection with each domain registration (for eligible TLDs). You have the option to enable two-factor authentication for extra account security and to prevent any unauthorized login attempts.
What makes NameCheap one of the best domain registrars for small business owners is their various affordable add-on services, such as fast and secure premium DNS, premium SSL certificates, business email hosting, CDN, and others. Both free and premium DNS support DNSSEC for TLDs that allow this security feature.
They frequently run massive discounts on some TLDs, but you should note that discounted prices only apply for the first year of registration and then regular retail prices apply for renewals. The current first-year registration cost of a .com is $8.98 and the renewal cost is $13.98.
Key Features and Benefits
Free lifetime Whois privacy protection.
Free email and domain forwarding.
Regular big discounts on some TLDs (first-year only).
Ability to add prepaid balance for fast orders/renewals.
Optional two-factor authentication for secure logins.
Quick technical support via live chat and tickets.
Many useful add-on services at reasonable prices.
Visit the official NameCheap website to check out their latest deals and discounts.
NameSilo is another decent domain registration provider with competitively low prices. Each new domain comes with free Whois privacy and free email forwarding (not full mailboxes, just forwarded email addresses). They also have paid premium email hosting services in case you need to upgrade.
A lot of domainers vouch for this registrar because they don’t charge a higher price for renewals and they also offer discounts on bulk purchases. The control panel has a basic and kind of dated look, but once you get used to it you’ll find it quite easy to use.
A .com registration at NameSilo costs $9.95 and renews for the same annual fee.
Key Features and Benefits
Whois privacy protection included for free.
Can create custom forwarding email addresses for free.
No increase on renewal fees (except for promotional offers).
Ability to setup two-factor authentication.
Responsive support service via chat, email and phone.
Multiple payment methods including Bitcoin.
Visit the official NameSilo website to learn more.
Name.com may be a smaller company compared to some of the big boys in the industry, but they have an established reputation and they appeal to many small business owners with their reasonable fees and simplicity.
This company also provides email and web hosting as secondary services, although their main strength is domain registration. They don’t seem to provide comprehensive technical support with hosting plans, but to be honest, most domain registrars aren’t that great with web hosting services.
The current registration fee for a .com is $9.99 for the first year, and $14.99 for annual renewals. Whois privacy is available as part of the Advanced Security add-on, which costs $4.99 per year per domain.
Key Features and Benefits
Free URL and email address forwarding.
SSL certificate and Whois privacy with the Advanced Security upgrade.
Clean and simple website without many distractions.
Two-step verification can be enabled.
Competitive prices for many TLDs.
Visit the official Name.com website to learn more.
Alright, this isn’t quite a cheap registrar, but still an affordable option if you’re looking to register one or a few domains. Being the world’s largest provider of domain services, they do deserve a mention here. But GoDaddy is more than just a registrar, they offer several other website-related services, including email and web hosting, although it’s the domain sector that they really excel at.
Their customer support is available 24/7 via phone and chat. But popularity has its downsides, and since this company literally has millions of customers to serve, their support service can get overwhelmed at times and you may experience slow responses to your support emails or long wait times on the phone.
As for Whois privacy, GoDaddy gives you free basic protection that keeps most contact details hidden, expect for the country, state (if any), and organization (if any). If you want complete Whois privacy and enhanced security for your domain, you can upgrade to the Full Domain Protection plan for an extra $10 per year per domain.
The regular registration and renewal price for a .com is $18.99, with a discounted price of $11.99 for the first year only. Alternatively, if you go with a two-year registration period, you get the first two for $19 and afterwards it renews every two years for $37.98.
Key Features and Benefits
Free basic Whois protection and optional full protection for an additional fee.
Can upgrade to Premium DNS with advanced DNSSEC security.
A massive marketplace of premium and expired domain names.
Several additional services like email, web hosting, website builder, etc.
Live chat and phone support available around the clock.
The company is a pioneer in the industry and they’re not going anywhere.
Visit the official GoDaddy website to learn more.
How We Selected The Best Domain Registrars
There are thousands of sites that offer domain registration services, including both full-fledged registrars as well as resellers. Different factors should be taken into account when looking for the right company that you can trust with registering your domain name and keeping it safe and functional at all times.
With so many companies to choose from, things can be a little confusing for beginners, which is why we created this simple guide and review of the best domain name registrars. Our selection methodology focused on the most important features that are often sought by seasoned website and domain owners.
The following are the main criteria we evaluated while choosing and ranking the registrars mentioned in this article:
ICANN stands for Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which is a non-profit organization that is in charge of making the rules governing domain registrations, transfers, disputes, etc. They set regulations that all registrars are required to follow in order to ensure the security and stability of the domain name system.
An ICANN-accredited registrar is one that has met all the qualification criteria for joining the ICANN accreditation program and thus is recognized and authorized to sell domain registration services to the public. Dealing with an accredited registrar, such as the ones we mentioned above, adds an extra layer of protection for the registrant (domain owner) against any potential wrongful practices by the registrar — e.g. not allowing you to transfer your domain to another registrar, which is against ICANN rules.
While you have every right to seek private domain registration and hide your identity from the public, it may not be wise to purchase anything from a business that hides their identity from you. A trustworthy online business should have a real physical address, a functional phone number, and an “about us” page with more details about the company and the people behind it.
If you lose your site’s data, you may be able to restore it from a backup copy. If you lose access to your email address, there can be ways to restore it. But if you lose your domain name, then chances are you may never be able to get it back. That’s why it’s extremely important to choose a secure registrar that implements different measures to ensure the security of your account and domains.
Domain locking is a standard feature that prevents any unauthorized attempts to transfer the domain out to another person. Some registrars require additional verification steps before allowing a domain transfer and before certain changes to the contact details or nameservers are applied. Two-factor authentication is also a very effective way to secure your account from unauthorized login attempts.
Each registrar is required to keep a Whois record containing complete and accurate contact details of the person who owns the domain name, aka the registrant. Whois records are public by default and anyone can perform a Whois lookup to find out who owns a specific domain name. This puts your personal information at risk of being abused by Internet spammers, scammers, identity thieves, hackers, etc.
Not wanting your contact details (name, address, email and phone number) to be publicly published and accessible by anyone is totally justified. By using a Whois privacy service (or private registration), you can rest assured that your personal information will be kept hidden from the public Whois database and only your registrar will have access to that information. Companies that value the privacy of their customers should provide this service for free or for a nominal fee.
Unlike the case with problem-prone web hosting services, you will probably never have to contact your domain registrar’s support if everything goes well during initial registration. Nevertheless, a competent and quick technical support team is one of the first things to look for in any online service provider. The companies that rank the highest for support service are often those that have around-the-clock live chat support.
Price shouldn’t be the primary factor in deciding which provider to go with. You don’t want to save a few dollars and end up with a poor service. But that doesn’t mean a higher price will get you a better service, either. In fact, some of the worst domain registrars out there happen to be among the most expensive ones.
Certain companies charge double the average price (and even much more) for a basic domain registration with no extra services or features to justify the markup. Some charge an outrageously high fee for add-ons that are offered for free elsewhere, such as Whois privacy.
Another thing to watch out for is marketing gimmicks and tricky discounts. You may get lured in by an extremely low registration fee for the first year, but when the time comes to renew the registration for subsequent years, the price dramatically goes up. Honest registrars should have reasonable prices for both the initial registration and subsequent renewals without any deceptive pricing tactics.
The Different Types of Domain Extensions (TLDs)
A domain extension, aka top-level domain (TLD), is the part that usually comes after the first dot in the name. Here’s a quick breakdown of the main types of domain extensions and their common uses:
Traditional Generic TLDs (gTLDs): Generic top-level domains are the most commonly used and recognized worldwide. Traditional gTLDs like .com, .net, .org and .info were among the first TLDs to become available for public registrations. The .com extension is by far the most popular and valuable option, especially for commercial and small business websites. Given its vast popularity and status as the default domain extension, most of the worthy .com names have already been registered by either end users or domainers looking to resell them for a profit.
New Generic TLDs (new gTLDs): Generic TLDs didn’t stop at the few traditional ones like .com and .net. Many new extensions have been and are being released after ICANN’s decision to allow companies to create and operate new TLDs. There are now more than a thousand new generic domain extensions spanning several different categories. Just to name a few noteworthy examples, you have .site, .online, .shop, .app, .tech, .live, and many others. Prices and requirements for registering a domain in one of these extensions are set by the sponsoring company and can vary for each TLD.
Country Code TLDs (ccTLDs): A country code top-level domain is one that is assigned to a specific country or geographical area. Some examples of these are: .us (United States), .ca (Canada), .au (Australia), .uk (United Kingdom), .eu (European Union), .de (Germany), etc. Because these extensions are only relevant to a specific geographical area, they are mostly used by local businesses and organizations. If you have plans to expand your business in the future and go global, it may not be a good idea to start with a country code TLD, but instead you should opt for a generic one.
Sponsored TLDs (sTLDs): Sponsored top-level domains are special ones that are sponsored by an organization or a government and are limited to specific uses by certain entities. These extensions are not normally open to the public and may require certain qualifications to obtain. Included in this category are the following TLDs: .edu (for educational institutions), .gov (for U.S. government agencies), .mil (for U.S. military), .post (for postal services), and a few others.
How to Choose The Right Domain Name to Register
Choosing the domain name is one of the first and most critical steps in launching a new website, whether it’s a business site, a personal blog or any other type of website. The name you pick will define your brand and you will likely have to stick with it for the life of your project.
Various factors should be taken into consideration while you’re kicking around different ideas for the name in your mind. The following are some of the key points to have on your checklist when looking for the best domain name to register.
Try to go with a .com
Different domain extensions can be suitable for different purposes, but generally, and especially for a business site, the .com is still the most favorable and most valuable of all available TLDs. The main reason to consider using a different extension is if none of your desired names are available in the .com TLD, and you’ve run out of ideas and have no choice but to consider another extension, such as .net, .online, .site, .store, etc.
Keep it as short as possible
It’s true that it’s almost impossible to find a nice and short domain name that hasn’t already been registered, particularly if it’s a .com. But short doesn’t necessarily mean one word, a two-word name that is around 12 characters would be great, so try to keep it within that range.
Go for a brandable name
Many people get torn between picking a brandable name versus a generic, keyword-rich name. Well, there are pros and cons to each one.
Generic names are usually stuffed with keywords and can convey a clear idea about the nature of the site, which helps make it look more relevant within search engine results. On the downside, these names are often much longer and may look quite cheesy. Some people believe that a keyword-rich domain will help their site rank better in search engines, but that used to be the case many years ago, and today it is no longer one of the major ranking factors and will not give your site any significant SEO boost.
On the other hand, a brandable name can be shorter, more unique and more professional. Most of the successful websites out there use brandable domains and that should tell you something. You will also be able to come up with different possible names that are available for registration, since finding a brandable name takes some creativity rather than simply sticking a few keywords together. It doesn’t have to be a completely made-up word, you can (and should) use combinations of words that are relevant to the intended use of the website.
All in all, a short and unique brandable name can help your site stand out from the crowd and establish strong brand awareness in your industry or niche, so try to make that your first choice when possible.
Make it memorable
You don’t want first-time visitors to your site to forget its name the next day, do you?! In order to create an easy-to-remember domain name, keep it as short as possible, avoid using any numbers or hyphens, use simple words, and make sure it’s easy to pronounce and type. These are some of the key characteristics of a memorable name.
Watch out for trademark conflicts
The last thing you’d want is to spend months or years working hard on building and promoting your website, only to end up receiving a legal letter informing you that your domain name infringes on another company’s trademark!
So, before you settle on a specific name, conduct a thorough trademark search to ensure that no one else is using the same name or part of it for their business. Even if it’s not an officially registered trademark, someone else may be using an identical or similar name for their online business, so also check search engine results and social media platforms to be extra confident that the considered name won’t possibly cause any legal conflict with someone else.
Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a Domain Name
A lot of people get too excited and rush to purchase a domain name, then a few days or maybe just a few hours later they regret their decision. The following are a few of the common mistakes to avoid if you don’t want to end up in such a situation:
Not checking the domain’s content history to make sure it hasn’t been abused by spammers or scammers in the past.
Not looking at the backlink profile of the domain, which may contain previous spammy links that can potentially have a negative impact on its SEO score.
Not conducting a trademark search to avoid any legal troubles with other companies or individuals.
Not checking other popular TLDs of the name to avoid conflict with a similar domain using a different extension.
Choosing a long, keyword-stuffed domain under the impression that it will help your site rank higher in search engines, which isn’t true nowadays.
Paying a high price for a premium domain when you could have done with an available name and invested the money in a more productive way instead.
Not using a third-party escrow service when buying a domain from someone else, unless the agreed price is too low to justify it.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does a domain name work?
When someone tries to register a new domain name with a registrar, a request is sent to the relevant registry that administers the top-level domain (TLD) — e.g. Verisign for .com. If the request is accepted, the registry will reserve and allocate the domain name to the person who registered it (the registrant), and a new Whois record is created with ownership details, registration and expiration dates, and other technical details.
One of the key details the Whois record contains is a list of nameservers that connect the domain to the domain name system (DNS). The main role of nameservers is to facilitate the conversion of the human-friendly domain name to a machine-friendly IP address, which is what computers and servers use behind the scenes to communicate with each other.
Your domain’s nameservers are the link between your domain and the server that hosts your website (or any other application). Nameservers can be changed anytime from your registrar’s control panel, but changes may take hours and sometimes up to a few days to propagate and take effect. Your web hosting provider should normally provide you with these nameservers, which you’ll need to apply to your domain so that it resolves to the correct IP address of the server that hosts your website.
Can you buy a domain without a website?
Yes, you sure can! You can simply register any available domain name and keep it under your ownership for as long as you’d like. You don’t have to purchase hosting, set up a website, or even use the domain in any way. Given that you keep renewing it when the time comes, it’ll stay there waiting for you to be ready to do something with it, or not!
Some web hosting companies may require you to sign up for a hosting plan with the domain. If you just want a domain, then it’s better to get it from one of the top registrars out there, not from a hosting provider.
What is the best length for a domain name?
Domain names have a maximum length of 63 characters (excluding the extension), but you definitely don’t want to get anywhere near that if you are aiming for an easily accessible and successful site. The general rule of thumb here is that shorter is always better. The average domain name length is estimated to be around 12 characters, so try your best to keep it below that.
What are premium domain names?
There are two types of premium domains; the first includes those that are already registered by another person or company that is offering the domain for sale at a certain price. The second type includes available domain names that have a higher-than-regular registration fee that is set by the registry.
Premium domains are more expensive because they are usually unique and memorable names that are deemed more valuable. More likely than not, you’re better off saving your money and finding an available regular domain — but that depends.
Can you buy a domain name forever?
Domain names are registered on a yearly basis with a minimum registration period of one year and a maximum of ten years. So, at any given time, a domain name cannot be registered for more than ten years from the current date.
Some registrars offer permanent domain registrations and promise that the domain will be yours forever, but still they are governed by the ten-year limit, so how can it be forever? Well, the deal is that for a hefty one-time payment, they guarantee to keep renewing the domain in the future without you paying any further fees.
But nothing really lasts forever, and it’s more of a gimmicky and often very expensive deal! What happens if the company goes out of business in a few years? Who will honor the “forever” promise then?!
Is it possible to register a domain name anonymously?
While you do have the choice to hide your identity from the public Whois database, you won’t find any reliable company that will allow you to register a domain without providing them with your correct personal details. Using fake or invalid contact details may put you at risk of getting your account and domains suspended. Some companies may even ask you to verify your identity in certain suspicious cases.
Can you buy a domain owned by someone else?
It may be possible to purchase a domain name that is already registered and owned by someone else, but that depends on whether they are willing to sell or not, and also how much they are asking for it.
There are many individuals (domainers) and companies that buy and sell domains for profit. Some of them will ask for a reasonable price while others may be blatant opportunists with unrealistic price expectations.
If the domain hasn’t been developed and shows a parked or empty page, then there’s a greater chance that the owner might be open to offers from potential buyers. There is also a good chance that the domain is already listed for sale at one or more of the domain marketplaces out there, such as Sedo and GoDaddy Auctions, so you may want to search such sites first.
And if you are going to buy a domain directly from someone else, it’s highly advised to use a third-party domain escrow service for better safety. Lots of scammers operate in the domain marketplace, so be very cautious about who you’re dealing with and always use the protection of a trusted escrow company.
How to buy an expired domain name?
When a domain reaches its expiration date and is not renewed by the owner, it goes through different expiration stages before it gets released to the public and becomes available for registration again. The period for which the domain is held after its expiration, and during which the current owner may be able to renew or restore the domain varies from one TLD to another. For most TLDs, the domain will be released after 80 days from the date of expiration if the current owner fails to renew it.
But catching an expired domain isn’t as simple as that. Many registrars auction off their expiring domains, and in case someone else places a bid on an expiring domain, they can acquire it before it gets deleted and released to the public.
Even if no bidders show interest in an auctioned expiring domain, there are several drop registrars that will try to catch any worthy expired domains as soon as they are deleted and released by the registry. They use automated software that can register the domain within a fraction of a second after it becomes available.
If you have your eye on a specific domain that has just expired, your best bet to obtain it is by either placing a bid on it with the current registrar (if they are auctioning it off), or placing a backorder on it with sites like SnapNames and DropCatch.
Whether you are starting a new online business, a blog, or just want to have your own custom email address, buying a domain name can be the first step into a new and exciting venture. Creating a brand new domain name only takes a few clicks, but finding the perfect name and the right place to register it is a much more thoughtful process.
In this article, we reviewed five of the most reliable domain registrars that offer fairly priced services with different features. We also answered a few beginner questions and provided general tips you should know before deciding to buy a domain name. We hope that you found useful information on this page and wish you the best of luck with your online ventures!