Monday, 20 February 2012

Internet Domain Registration Guide: 15 Tips You Should Bear in Mind Before Registering a Domain Name




Do you want to draw more attention to your blog, small business website or personal web page but are tired of sharing one of the awkwardly formatted, burdensome URLs commonly found with free hosting sites? A domain name can help you by providing you with a short, simple URL (i.e. yoursite.com) to tell your friends, family members and potential customers. However, you should keep some factors in mind before you register a domain name.

Internet Domain Registration Guide / Part 1 / trademarks, contracts and whois

1. Beware of Already Used Trademarks

Given that a large majority of trademarks are already registered as domain names, it is rather difficult to purposely register a domain that is copying off of a trademark. However, there are numerous trademarks filed at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that you likely don't know about, so it is important to check to verify you aren't accidentally 'stealing' a trademark with your domain name. LegalZoom.com and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (www.uspto.gov) are two places you can visit to verify whether a trademark is taken.


2. Read the Fine Print

Domain registration contracts can be overloaded with hard to read, confusing and excessively long Terms of Service. Most, if not almost all, people skip over the terms of service. Make sure to read the Terms of Service carefully before you register your domain, since it could realistically say that the domain name is property of the registrar, you must pay excessive fees to transfer it out and other unpleasant, seemingly unfair rules.


3. Avoid Registrars Who Charge 'Transfer-Out' Fees

Some domain registrars charge a hidden fee if you try to transfer your domain elsewhere. Typically, this is hidden within the Terms of Service. A lot of transfer out fees violate ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) policies, so if you have any questions, you can go to ICANN's website (www.icann.org) and inquire about questionable fees.


4. Private Domain Registration / Premium Whois Services

Private domain registration, also referred to as premium whois services, is an extra feature where the domain registrar places their own information, instead of you or your business's information, in the whois record. According to ICANN policies, this technically means the domain registrar owns the domain, not you. This feature is typically not worth the extra cost.

Internet Domain Registration Guide / Part 2 / URLs and websites

5. Stick with .COM, .ORG, .NET only!

Many domain registration providers offer .info sites for dirt cheap prices, up to one-tenth or more of the regular price for a .COM listing. With the exception of foreign entities who use an extension such as '.co.uk', '.com.au', or a similar non-US extension, you should always stick to the generally accepted extensions, especially if you are running a business, nonprofit organization, etc.


6. Leave Out Hyphens, Numbers and Underscores

Underscores, hyphens and numbers can look very sloppy and unprofessional in a domain name. Not only that, they are typically also harder to remember. Unless there is an exceptional reason why you need one of these characters in your domain name, you should avoid them!

7. Beware of 'Pay-as-you-go' Plans

Pay-as-you-go differs from registering a domain for many years upfront. Pay-as-you-go typically operates by the provider giving you a small discount for registering for multiple years, then the domain provider only registers you for one year at a time, renewing it every year. Essentially, it acts as an interest free loan to the domain registration company. These plans are frequently coupled with "no refunds" policies. In many instances, the domain registrar ends up making more money through poor service and contracts ending early.


8. Typically Avoid Free URL Forwarding

Free URL forwarding typically involves a domain name that directs to your site elsewhere, such as a website on a free web hosting account. However, some businesses add popup advertisements that appear during the forwarding process, which helps the business make money from popup ad views and clicks but may cause viewers to leave your site out of annoyance with the advertisements.

9. Find out if Registrar Lock is Implemented and if You Can Have the Domain Auth-code

New domain owners have received emails from scammers in the past, requesting payment for renewal fees and other costs. However, paying the legitimate looking bill caused the domain to be instantly transferred to the other scammer. This process is referred to as 'slamming'.

Registrar Lock is a feature that places a hold on your domain so it can't be easily transferred, much like a hold on a credit card if suspicious purchase activity arises. If you choose a company with poor customer service to register your domain, and you decide to transfer your domain elsewhere, you will be faced with a long wait to get the Registrar Lock feature turned off. Ideally, it is best if you can find a company who provides you with the domain auth-code and allows you to turn Registrar Lock off and on yourself.


Internet Domain Registration Guide / Part 2 / keywords, Audience and support

10. Create a Domain Name that is Short, Simple and Includes Keyword(s)

Your domain name should be easy to remember and should include keyword(s) that are important to your site. Try to keep the keywords as general as possible, without being so general that meaning is lost. For example, if you are creating a NCAA basketball bubble team blog, a domain such as 'bubbleteams.com', 'collegebball.net' and 'marchmadness.org' would convey the purpose of the domain and are easy to remember. A wisely chosen domain name can also help with search engine optimization (SEO), leading to increased traffic to your website.

11. Understand Your Audience

Identify who your potential audience will be in the broadest possible terms. If your website is about UNIX programming, your potential audience would include computer scientists and programmers, network administrators, college students, educators, children and adolescents with a strong interest in computing, computer hobbyists, etc. Whether its deciding on a domain name or creating web page content, try to avoid potentially offensive, threatening or overly complex words and phrases. This is especially important if you are a small business, corporation or another entity where you are trying to sell a product or service through your domain.


12. Consider Purchasing Similar Domain Names, Such as Common Misspellings

People commonly misspell domain names on accident. Many companies have used this to their advantage, registering similar domain names and redirecting people to their own sites. In order to combat this potential issue as well as help direct people to your site, consider registering domains consisting of common misspellings that forward to yours.


13. What's the Company's Reputation?

Check the Better Business Bureau (BBB), forums, magazines and other resources to discover the domain company's overall reputation.

14. Technical Support and Customer Service

Before you sign up for a domain from the first company that pops up in a search engine, consider what you would do if you have a pressing issue. Who could you contact? Is there a physical site you could go to? Can you contact by phone or only email? Understanding the technical support and service availability can help you avoid stress later.


15. Remember, You Get What You Pay For!

If domain registration only costs $0.99 for a full year, there's likely a reason. When it comes to domain registrar services, you typically get what you pay for! 



Useful Information and Resources

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Lara Tomb said...

Thanks for the post.Your tips where very useful to choose a good domain name and I registered it through 9cubehosting.com as they offered it at low cost along with economical freebies.

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