Your domain is your street address. Typically, it's the string of characters that appear between the www and the .com. The easier it is to remember, the easier it is to find. Premium domains are the ocean-front property of domain names. They are short, easy-to-remember web addresses that contain popular keywords. For example, gourmetcoffeeshop.com is listed for sale via buydomains.com for $9,800. Most unique domains, however, are affordable and can be registered for less than $20 per year.
Choose Your Domain
You don’t have to go premium to get a good web address. Ideally, your domain will match your brand. Let's say you've registered your company under the name "Red Lion Consulting Associates."
A simple Internet search or a domain registration company will tell you, at no charge, if the domain is available.
Note: You cannot buy and own a domain. Domain registrations must be renewed annually, and most companies will sell auto-renew packages or five- to 10-year registrations. (An article on iWebTool.com explores the many myths with domain names and ownership and trademarks.)
Defend Your Domain
Consider registering the .net, .me, .org, and other domains as well. Problogger.net suggests this for two reasons: defense and expansion. Defense protects someone else from infringing on your name. Expansion allows you to grow your business in other areas, such as charitable work.
If you register additional domains, you do not have to activate them. Or, you can create 301 redirects, which automatically forward from the .net/.org/.info to your .com.
Note: Always choose .com as your primary domain. It's the most common, and it's what most people will assume your domain ends with. Avoid hyphens (as in red-lion-consulting-associates.com.) SearchEngineLand.com says there are no technical reasons to avoid dashes, but they look cheap and are difficult to convey. "My web address is red dash lion dash consulting dash associates" is a mouthful.
Register Your Domain
A quick search for redlionconsultingassociates.com shows it's available. Let's register it. Whether you choose to use it or not, it matches your brand, and you want to protect it. On the other hand, Redlionconsultingassociates.com is long and difficult to read, so let's look for simpler domains. RedLion.com is registered to a hotel group, so we cannot use it. If RLCA.com and RedLionConsulting.com are available, register those because they are shorter and easier to read.
Note: To register your domains, search the Internet for "domain registration." Ask friends and colleagues for recommendations. Register as many domains as you want. You are not obligated to build sites on them, but you will have to renew them each year.
Many first-timers are surprised to learn that not only do they have to register their domains, but they also have to pay someone to host their websites. Think of web hosting like a land lease in the real estate market. You might own the structure that you build on the site, but you don't own the land upon which you build.
According to WebHostingBlueBook.com's (WHBB) help page "What is Web Hosting?", you don't have to know HTML to build a website, and many hosts offer tools to get you started. WHBB says, yes, you can host your own website if you set up an Internet server on your computer and are able to leave it running at all times. PCs and home ISPs are not designed to host sites, so your pages will load very slowly.
Now that you've secured your address and leased your virtual property, it's time to build.