Many web hosting companies offer a free domain name when you purchase a hosting plan. Unfortunately, these are usually only free for the first year. After that, you have to renew at a fee set by the hosting company — usually several dollars a year more expensive than if you were to pay for it separately directly from a domain name registrar. Hosting companies also have a tendency to add-on additional charges like domain name privacy, which you can also get cheaper (or for free) from many good registrars. If you’d rather purchase your domain name separate from your hosting plan (which is a very good idea), check out our list of domain name registrars for some of the better low-cost options.
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Just about every domain name registrar will be able to sell you a .com domain name.
No, there are many other options. For example — if you are a non-profit organization, a club, a church, or another non-commercial entity, you may want to register as a .org domain name. There has been a trend among tech-focused startups and open source projects in the last few years to use the .io extension. For non-US entities, each country has its own country-code TLD, such a .uk and .ru. These are also popular for domain hacks — using the domain extension as part of the name of your site or brand. There also, of course, the new “exotic” domain names, such as .ninja and .club. There are a number of these, and they might fit your brand very well. You generally want to steer clear of second-tier gTLDs such a .biz and .info. These are not very well respected and tend to make savvy internet users suspicious.
Even with all the additional options, .com seems to remain the gold standard for domain names. It carries a high-degree of trust with consumers, and communicates a sense of legitimacy that is hard to achieve with other domain name extensions. Because of this .com domains continue to have the highest sale price in the domain aftermarket.
If you want to buy a domain name that no one else has registered before, that is very easy — just use any reputable domain name registrar. If you are trying to purchase a domain name that has already been registered, you can do that as well. It can be a little more complicated than purchasing new registrations, though. Check out our in-depth guide to aftermarket domain purchasing for details.
If you want to set up a website, you probably need a domain name. Some people set up free blogs or other types of sites using a domain name that belong to a third-party service like WordPress.com or Tumblr. That’s okay for small personal blogs — but if you want to build a serious online presence, you really should have your own domain name. It isn’t hard to get your own domain name, all you need to do is buy one from a good domain name registrar. If you’re having trouble finding a domain name you like, or you want to learn more about what makes a good domain name before you purchase one, see our Ultimate Domain Name Guide.
A domain name registrar is a company that manages the registration of domain names. When you buy a new domain name, you are buying it “from” a registrar (that is — you are paying the registration fee to a registrar).
Any good domain name registrar will let you search for domain names. Namecheap has a particularly good domain name search tool. It lets you search hundreds of domain name options based on provided keywords, including domain names with the new Top Level Domains.
If you have aMac or a Linux machine, and you’re comfortable on the command line, you can also use the whois command directly on the terminal. Just type the command and the domain name ( whois example.com ), and all the info will be displayed right there. You can also access this command from scripts, if you want to incorporate WHOIS data into an app. Remember, though, because of WHOIS privacy, you won’t always get usable information from a WHOIS lookup.
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