The Best Domain Name Registrars

Learn How to Find and Register The Perfect Domain Name


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One of the first steps in creating an online presence is to choose and register a domain name. A domain name is one of the most important parts of your business or personal online identity. Choosing the right domain name is an exacting process. As a website owner, you’ll want to determine the best type of domain name for your business.

Top 3 domain registrars in 2019:

RECOMMENDED
namecheap logo Register or transfer your domain name in a snap Namecheap.com
domain.com logo Everything begins with the perfect web domain Domain.com
IWantMyName logo 400+ domain extensions (from .com to .coffee) iwantmyname.com

This guide is designed to help you understand what a domain name is and how to go register the perfect one. The registrar company will provide you with annual subscription services to register and retain your domain name. It’s important to find a trusted firm and buy a recognizable name.

A closer look at top domain registrars

NameCheap

namecheap home page

NameCheap was started in 2000 with the idea of giving people great service and value-priced domain names. They currently have over 10 million domains registered under them and are a leading ICANN registrar.

Services offered

NameCheap is a one-stop shop for those looking for a new domain name. They offer domain registration, email hosting, and a full line of website hosting. They even have an aftermarket domain service. It consists of an auction-style portion of the site where you can purchase existing domain names.

TLDs offered

Like the others, they offer all the Generic TLDs and many of the country-code TLDs. With their large list of descriptive TLDs the total we observed came to right around 300.

Pre-order

NameCheap offers pre-orders for TLDs that are in the pre-release phase.

Privacy

They offer Free WhoisGuard Privacy Protection when you register an eligible new domain name or transfer an existing eligible domain to Namecheap.

Pricing

NameCheap definitely wins in the pricing game. Out of the five domains we tested they were the cheapest on 3 of them.

Domain.com

domain.com home page

Domain.com is a domain registrar that has been online since 2000. Domain.com LLC is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Endurance International Group Holdings, Inc.

Services offered

They specialize in domain names, web hosting, VPS hosting, Email, SSL certificates, web design, and online marketing services. Their free domain services include URL Forwarding, Email Forwarding, Transfer Lock, and Total DNS Management.

TLDs offered

The number of available TLDs we counted is 337, but we can surely say that they offer over 300 TDLs so there is a pretty good chance you will find what you are looking for. There are around 310 nTLDs that are available for preorder which makes them above industry standard in our books.

Pre-order

There are around 310 nTLDs that are available for preorder which makes them above industry standard in our books.

Privacy

Domain privacy can be added for $8,99 per year, which is standard practice and pricing.

Pricing

Domain.com was solidly in the middle of the pack for the domains we tested. They were never the cheapest, nor were they the most expensive.

iwantmyname

IWantMyName home page

iwantmyname is owned by Ideegeo Group Limited, a small privately held company in New Zealand. It was created in 2008. They promise no shady tactics when dealing with you and your domain name. They claim they want you to have as much access and control as possible.

Services offered

iwantmyname.com is purely a domain registrar. They do not offer hosting or email services

TLDs offered

They offer a large list of TLDs. The number of their available TLDs is now 530.

Pre-order

iwantmyname.com offers a pre-order feature for TLDs that are in the pre-release phase.

Privacy

Some domain registrars charge for this service, but they add it to all domains registered with the TLDs below for free, automatically.

Pricing

While not the most expensive of the registrars we reviewed, they were almost always the second most expensive on all the domains we tested. They do have different TLDs on sale so you can get the first year a bit cheaper.

How to find the best domain name

What is a domain name?

what is domain

A domain name is how your website will be known online, no matter what type of website you’ll have. It is the unique address of your website on the internet and it will be yours as long as you continue paying the annual fee. Customers who know your domain technically referred to as a URL can simply type it in their browser’s address bar, and be taken there.

A domain name is more than an address. It is your blog, your business, and your online identity. That’s why your domain name must be you. Make it recognizable, easy to remember, and a proud representation of you and your brand.

Why a domain name is important?

Domain names are very important for brand identity because they can give credibility to a business. In the modern era, customers assume every business has some sort of web presence. Not having a web presence reduces a business’s credibility in the eyes of potential and existing customers.

Having a website that doesn’t have its own unique domain name is another mistake some companies make. Instead, they cut corners and use domains such as:

  • YourBusinessName.DomainShop.com
  • DomainShop.com/your-business-name

This means the website is just a page connected to a larger site (directory or subdomain). It’s an inadequate way to present a business. So remember: A domain name lends a greater level of professionalism and credibility to your business.

Domain name extensions (types)

When you choose a domain name, one of your choices will be what domain extension or Top Level Domain (TLD) extension to use. There are hundreds of top-level domains from which to choose. Here is the breakdown of the most popular ones.

Top-Level Domains (TLDs)

Total TLDs globally

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A top-level domain (TLD) is a portion of the domain name you will want to register. It’s what some people think of as the suffix portion of a domain name. For example, in the domain name “example.com” the TLD is “.com.” There can be different websites with the same name, but different TLDs. For instance, Example.com and Example.net can both exist as separate websites owned by different people or companies.

Generic top-level domains

There are different categories of TLDs, but the most common type is the generic top-level domain (gTLD). This consists of: .com, .gov, .edu, .mil, .org, .info, .biz and .net domains. These are usually the first types of TLDs people think of when they want to purchase a domain name.

Country code top-level domains

Next are the country code top-level domains (ccTLDs). These are two-digit codes associated with a specific country. For example:

  • United States has .us
  • Puerto Rico has .pr
  • China has .cn

Note that there may be additional requirements for registering country code top-level domains. Some countries require you to be a resident or have a representative in the country.

Descriptive top-level domains

Descriptive top-level domain (dTLD) names have recently made an appearance on the domain registry market and are growing in popularity.These domain names are more descriptive than the original gTLDs and can add credibility or distinction for your business.

Examples of dTLDs include: .guru, .adult, .bike and .ninja.

Not every registrar will be able to register all types of TLDs. Most offer the original gTLDs of .com, .net, .org—and usually .biz and .info. If you decide on a ccTLD or one of the new dTLDs, you’ll need to find registrars that handle those specifically.

We recommend going for the .com domain if you can find your desired name.

How much do domain names cost?

Prices for domain names vary among different registrars and hosting companies. The normal cost is in the range of $10 to $15 per year for the .com domain. Other gTLDs such as .net or .org may be less expensive. Specialty dTLDs such as .guru, can run as high as $100 a year.

Registrars may also offer special deals used to make an initial purchase so that you pay a low entry fee, but are charged the regular price in subsequent months.

Note: If a promotion boasts $1 domain registration for the first month, it will likely charge you $14.99 the following eleven months. Simply be aware that after the first month or first year, the normal price will take effect.

The myth of the FREE domain

free domain

Sometimes you’ll see a hosting company or registrar offering «FREE» domain names. The most common offer for a free domain name is that it will be free for the first year when you purchase a hosting plan. This is fine as long as you realize you’ll be paying for the domain name after the first year is over.

Other companies may give you the domain free as long as you host your site with them. This is also fine, but understand that the cost of the domain name is bundled into the cost of the services they provide.

What is your purpose of getting the domain?

There are different reasons why you may want to register a domain name. Some of the most common practices in new domain registration are to «park» a domain, create a custom email address and for starting a blog or website.

Domain name only (parked domain)

parked domain

A parked domain is a domain name that is registered but does not point to its own site. Sometimes people register domain names they want to use, but they’re not ready to build a website or sign up for hosting.
Another use for a parked domain is to redirect visitors to a different site.

For example, you may already have «example.com» as your primary website but you may also want to have «example.net» and «example.org» as parked domains that point to your primary site. This means that no matter which domain a visitor enters, they see «example.com». The parked domains will simply redirect and display the «example.com» website when they are entered into the web browser.

Parked domains are not always other TLDs (.com, .org, .net.) Sometimes companies register common misspellings as parked domains. For instance, users may often type “examle.com” when they mean to type “example.com.” The misspelling might be so common that the company registers that domain name and points it to the primary website.

In any case, a parked domain is simply a domain name that isn’t attached to its own files. Instead, it redirects visitors to another domain. Registrar companies and many hosts offer “domain only” registrations that are perfect for this type of domain.

Domain name for custom email

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Another fairly common practice is to register a domain name in order to establish a custom email address.

If you have a very long domain name, such as: «ThisIsALongDomainName.com», it can be a pain to give out your email address, which would be: «Joe@ThisIsALongDomainName.com»
If it’s available, you may want to register an abbreviated domain name to use specifically for email. Using our example, one could use «tialdn.com», where the domain name for email is the acronym of the primary domain name. This way «joe@tialdn.com» is much easier to give out and use than the much longer «Joe@ThisIsALongDomainName.com».

Domain names registered for this type of use need to be pointed to a host in order to use their email servers. Some registrars offer this service, but in other instances, this requires a normal hosting account, even if the account isn’t used to house an actual website.

Domain name to launch a website (often free domain with hosting)

By far the most common reason to register a domain name is to launch a website or blog. A website without a name is like a nameless street. Registering a specific name to a website is essential if you want to establish an online presence.

Normally, when you sign up for hosting, the domain registration process will be included.
In some cases, though, an additional fee for domain registration will be required. But your goal is to tie a name to the website that will be housed on that hosting account. This specific domain name is called the site’s “primary” name. It may be the only domain name associated with the site unless you also register a name for parking or email purposes as described above.

Our recommended hosting provider, Bluehost, is providing a special offer for our visitors that includes a FREE domain name. You will get a free domain name when you sign up to set up a WordPress blog with them and they offer a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Checking domain availability

There are several tools you can use to check for an available domain name. Firstsiteguide’s tool, Domain Name Checker will allow you to check your domain name availability with most of the common and some of the new top-level domains. It’s very easy to use. Just enter your desired domain name and see if it’s available. If your desired domain is available, you can proceed to purchase it. If not, don’t panic! You still have a few options to obtain your desired domain name.

Is it for sale?

domain for sale

Your intended domain name may be reserved but available through an auction, such as Godaddy Auction, Sedo, or NameJet. You’ll need to find the desired name and monitor the auction to ensure you get the best price and beat any competing bidders.

Another possibility is that your intended domain name is reserved, but not in use, not publicly listed for sale and not up for auction. If this is the case, try contacting the domain owner to see if they’re willing to sell it. See if the contact details are listed on the site. If not, you can try to find the domain owner’s information using a Whois search.In 40 to 50 percent of cases, you’ll find the domain owner information there. See if you can contact the seller or service to negotiate a lower price. This tactic is especially effective if the domain has been on sale for a long time.

If the owner agrees to sell the domain, draft and sign a purchase agreement with the buyer. This will legally dictate the terms of the purchase and protect both parties. The next step is to make the payment. Don’t just wire money to the buyer once you’ve reached an agreement. You need a secure transaction to protect you from any fraudulent activities. Use a secure service such as Escrow to close the deal.

What to do after you register a domain name?

Pointing a domain name to your website (if separate from hosting)

pointing domain

If you’ve registered your new domain name with a registrar that’s not also your web host, you’ll need to point, or connect, the domain to your web host’s server. Most registrars have an interface that makes the process simple and straightforward.

Before starting the process, you’ll need to contact your host and get the names of the nameservers you will point to. This will be a list of two or more servers and possibly IP addresses for each one. You simply need to take this information to your registrar and replace the existing nameserver list with your new nameservers.

Setting up your custom email

Once your domain name is pointed to a host, you’ll be able to set up your custom email addresses. Hosts will have some sort of interface for you to access the server, the most popular currently being cPanel. Once you’ve accessed the interface (or dashboard), there will be an email address tool. This is where you’ll create new email addresses for your domain name. The process is simple, requiring only the creation of an email address and its password. As soon as you’ve created your email address, you’ll be able to receive emails for your new domain.

custom domain

Changing registrars (transferring a domain name)

Though you purchase and register a domain name through a specific registrar, you’re not required to keep your domain name with them. You may change registrars whenever you wish, except during a 60-day period after initial registration or recent transfer. This is mandated by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and not simply a requirement of your chosen registrar. When you’re ready to switch registrars, you’ll need to follow the procedure to transfer the domain name from the existing registrar to your new one:

  • First, you must contact the existing registrar and obtain a transfer key. This is known as an AUTH Code or an EPP Key. (They are the same thing.) The current registrar will then enable your domain name to be released.
  • Next, provide your newly chosen registrar with the EPP Key you were given. They use it as authorization with the old registrar to allow the transfer.

The two registrars then facilitate the transfer of ownership. Domain transfers can take as little as a few hours or longer as 14 days, though most occur within a few days.

Note: One caveat to the process is that neither registrar will change your domain’s DNS records or name servers. Should you need to make any changes you will need to change them either prior to the transfer with your old registrar or wait until the transfer is complete and then change them at the new registrar.

The best domain name registration companies and tools

This section provides an overview (plus reviews from real customers) of the different domain registrar companies and tools available on the web today. With the help of this information, you will be able to buy the best domain name and find the best domain tool to represent your website and brand.

Domainr

Domainr

Domainr is a useful search engine that helps you explore top level domains to find unique domains and letting you know if those domains are available for purchase.

Whois Lookup

Whois Lookup

Whois Lookup is a tool with whom you can research domain ownership – get ownership info, IP address history, rank, etc.

NameCheap

NameCheap

NameCheap is a great shop for those who are looking for a new domain name. They offer domain registration, email hosting, and a full line of website hosting.

Name.com

Name.com

An ICANN-accredited domain name registrar. They also offer web hosting, email, website builder, premium and expired domain names, and SSL certificates.

Bust a Name

Bust a Name

Bust a Name is a website that offers various filtering tools that will help you find the right domain name for your blogging needs.

Instant Domain Search

Instant Domain Search

Instant Domain Search is a tool that generates domain names, checks domain extensions, and show domains for sale instantly.

GoDaddy

GoDaddy

This GoDaddy’s advanced domain search tool helps you find the perfect domain name. With more than 60 million domains under management GoDaddy has more experience than anyone, so they’ll make sure you find the right domain and that it’s got a secure home online.

NameBoy

NameBoy

NameBoy is a domain name generator, website name generator and the best way to search domain names and generate company names.

IWantMyName

IWantMyName

IWantMyName is pure domain management service offering domain registration and DNS hosting.

Go.Co

Go.Co

Introduced to satisfy the need for short and memorable web addresses, .CO is a new domain extension that offers you a global option for branding your online presence.

Hover

Hover

Hover makes it easy to spend less time on finding a domain name and more time on your big idea.

Gandi

Gandi

Gandi is a domain name registrar and innovative cloud hosting company.

Register

Register.com

Register.com has built a reputation as a leading provider of global domain name registration, web site design and management services.

NameSilo

NameSilo

NameSilo is the right place if you want to register and manage your domains, without constant hosting, web page, email account upsells and more.

eNom

eNom

Enom makes it possible for individuals and organizations to buy and sell Internet domains and services.

Domain.com

Domain.com

Domain.com’s free domain services give customers comprehensive control over their domain portfolios.

Best domain names for blogs [Infographic]

It may seem like a lot of work to research and find the right name, but, since it’s such a big commitment, it’s worth spending a day getting right.

You probably won’t be able to satisfy every single criteria on our list, but that’s okay. I’ll make sure you start off with the best one you can, and then you can move on to all the other fun and exciting aspects of creating your first blog!

best domain names for blogs infographic

Feel free to use this infographic on your site


 

Conclusion

The most common reason to register a domain name is to launch a website or blog. Registering a specific name to a website is essential if you want to establish an online presence.
As you can see, there are a few considerations to make when choosing and registering a domain name, but all in all, the process is fairly straightforward. I hope that you will find this list of domain name registrars and tools useful for your new website. Have fun finding your domain name as it can be an exciting step in getting your brand new website up and running!

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