A great domain name is a concise, easy to type, and memorable URL that reflects your brand or your website’s subject matter. Avoid using hyphens, strings of numbers, or unnecessary words to make it easy for your visitors to remember and find your website. Remember: A great domain name is one that your visitors can type correctly on their first try.
Think of the name you want to register. The answer is typically your company or website name. It is best to keep your domain name short and easy to understand. Say it out loud, and make sure it sounds great. Next, search to see if it is available. If the name you desire is taken with the .com top-level domain, there are hundreds of others available. Finally, add the top choices to your cart and complete the domain registration.
Make sure you can use their SMTP servers for outgoing email. Many hosting and domain name registration providers will not let you use their SMTP servers for sending emails. They assume you can send email via your internet server provider’s SMTP servers. However, a great many ISPs and broadband providers will only let you use their SMTP servers on their branded email accounts (i.e. [email protected]). This means that if you use your own email address (i.e. [email protected]), you won’t be able to send email via their SMTP servers. There are workarounds but you shouldn’t have to go to the trouble.
Make sure you can control every aspect of your domain name. Many domain name registration companies don’t let you make changes to your domains yourself. You have to enter a request via their support systems and then wait days for assistance. Simple things like changing IPS tags and changing name servers should be possible via your control panel. Make sure you get a control panel and check out what the control panel lets you do.
You should also avoid words that have more than one spelling if your visitors are likely to be confused and mistype the name. Alternately, you can buy both versions of the name and direct visitors from the one you like less to the preferred name. While you do want a short name (see below), don’t go for something so cryptic that people have a hard time remembering it. Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool and you want to make it easy for people to tell their friends about your site.
The target audience is just as varied as the contents of the Domain Guide, as it’s made up of small and medium-sized businesses as well as website operators, domain traders, and inquisitive readers. As is the case for all categories of IONOS’s Digital Guide, the domain guide also caters to both novices and experienced users. Get domain expertise with our guide.
Most people assume a domain name ends in .com so if you buy a domain name with one of the other extensions (.net, .info, .org, etc.), you’ll have some extra work to get people to remember that your site has a different extension. Don’t automatically assume you should only buy domains with .com, though. Many sites have done quite well with other extensions. (Look at us!)
It's good to decide early on if you want to have a brand domain or a keyword domain. The benefit of a brand domain is that your domain will most likely be considered as trustworthy, and immediately shows visitors that it's linked to your business or personal blog. A keyword domain, on the other hand, has the advantage that it will be better optimized for search engines, and therefore will get higher search results. In recent years, however, the drastic improvement in search results thanks to a keyword domain has begun to decrease.
Contact the owner. Before so much as hinting at a price, simply email to ask whether or not the domain is for sale. If you are known or can clearly be linked to a thriving business, create a generic alternate email address through which to contact them, as your success might be leveraged against you. Be aware, however, that an informal-sounding email address is more likely to be regarded as spam or junk mail.
Think of the name you want to register. The answer is typically your company or website name. It is best to keep your domain name short and easy to understand. Say it out loud, and make sure it sounds great. Next, search to see if it is available. If the name you desire is taken with the .com top-level domain, there are hundreds of others available. Finally, add the top choices to your cart and complete the domain registration.

Even if the term isn’t trademarked, don’t buy domains that are just a variation of another domain name. This means avoiding plurals if the singular is taken (mediatemple.net vs. mediatemples.net), hyphenating a phrase (media-temple.net), or adding “my” or some other preposition (mymediatemple.net). Alternately, you might consider buying these variations yourself and set them up so that if someone types one of the variations, they are redirected to your main site.

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