How not to buy a domain name

I’ve never purchased a domain name myself. But I have owned a digital marketing agency since 2003, so I’ve picked up on some common mistakes to avoid over the years. Plus, technically, I have owned one of our domain names with Tim since 2000. They were expensive back then!

Regardless, your domain name is an essential part of your organization. That’s how people will find you online, and it represents your brand on the Internet. That’s why choosing the right domain name for your business or nonprofit is essential.

Let’s look at some of the most common mistakes people make when buying domain names and how to avoid them.

1. Not checking availability

Please don’t assume it’s available because you typed a domain name into your browser, and there wasn’t a website. Just because you can’t find a website with that domain name doesn’t mean it’s available for purchase.

The best way to check domain name availability is to use a domain name search tool like GoDaddy. It will show you if the domain name is available and suggest other options if it’s not.

2. Choosing a domain name that’s too long or difficult to remember

Naturally, many people will find you through Google or even through social media. But sometimes, people want to type your domain name into their browser directly.

That’s why choosing a domain name that’s short, memorable, and easy to spell is important. You don’t want people to get frustrated and give up trying to find your website.

A good rule of thumb is to keep your domain name as short and simple as possible. You want it to be easy to remember, so avoid choosing a domain name that’s too long or difficult to spell.

3. Buying from a disreputable domain name seller

There are a lot of domain name sellers out there, and not all of them are reputable. Some domain name sellers will try to take advantage of you by overcharging for your domain name or even selling you a domain that’s already registered.

To avoid getting scammed, only buy from a reputable domain name seller. It’s certainly not the only option out there, but we’ve used GoDaddy for years. While we have had problems with their hosting over the years, their domain name registration services have always been top-notch.

4. Paying too much for a domain name

The first domain name Tim and I bought back in 2000 was $75 a year or so. Now, most domains don’t cost anywhere near that much. You can usually find domain names for around $15 a year.

Some domain name sellers will try to charge you more, but there’s no reason to pay more than $15 a year for a domain name. Just shop around, and you should be able to find a good deal. I’m also a big fan of coupon codes!

I should note that there are many more domain name options now than there used to be. Years ago, everyone wanted a .com. While that’s often still the best option, you can get .pics, .agency, or several other options. Some of those cost quite a bit more than $15 a year.

But if whatever you’ve picked seems expensive, shop around. See if it’s around the same price elsewhere or not.

5. Forgetting to renew your domain registration

I can’t tell you how many calls and emails we’ve gotten over the years from clients asking why their website was offline, only to discover that they hadn’t kept their credit card info up to date with their domain name registrar, so it didn’t get renewed automatically.

Just set up a reminder in your calendar or sign up for auto-renewal with your domain registrar, and you’ll be good to go. Just be sure to keep your email address and credit card info up to date.

6. Choosing the wrong top-level domain extension (.com, .net, etc.)

Finally, the different domain name options—the TLD or top-level domain—actually mean something. Sure, everyone usually wants a .com, and that’s okay. But nonprofits should typically get a .org. Some options are limited based on your country, and some, like .cpa, are limited to a specific industry.

The important thing is to do your research and make sure you’re choosing the best option for your website. It can be a pain to change your domain name later because you chose the wrong one.

Need help? We’ve been helping clients with their websites and choosing domain names since 2003. Shoot us an email or give us a call, and we would be happy to see if we can help you out.

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