[This blog post is part of the Ultimate-Guide-to-Launching-a-Wordpress-Powered-Website-For-Your-Small-Business Series. Check out the rest here!]
For many people new to the internet, registering a domain name can seem like a daunting task.
However, doing anything for the first time can seem overwhelming (remember when you tried to ride your bike for the first time without the training wheels?)
Hence I’ve put together this tutorial for you on how to register a domain name.
The first step is to find a domain name registrar.
There are literally hundreds if not thousands to choose from and your first thought may be to register your domain name with Godaddy.
However, I would strongly recommend against that. I don’t want to get sued but lets just say that they’ve had some issues.
That being said, I would highly recommend that you register with www.namecheap.com as they are based out of LA and don’t hold your domain names hostage if you try to switch registrar companies (not that you would want to) as Namecheap.com provides excellent customer services and well they’re…cheap.
Now before we go ahead and do this you may be thinking, why don’t I simply register my domain name with my hosting company?
Because lets say that you want to move your hosting website because at some point you get ticked off with your current host and want to high tail it out of dodge.
Well there can be some complications with your host if they have not only your site hostage but also your domain name.
I would recommend keeping your domain names and hosting accounts separate.
This way when you or if you do decide to switch hosting companies it is simply a matter migrating your website and changing your DNS (domain name server) settings and you can wash your hands of your crummy host.
Reason’s why you would want to change hosts will be reserved for another blog post.
However, on with the tutorial.
Again, first thing you want to do is visit Namecheap.com (or a registrar of your choice)
Second, you will see a box that says “Enter a domain search” or something similar like that.
Next You’ll want to enter the name of the domain name that you want to register.
It is highly recommended by myself and others who are knowledgeable in search engine marketing that you use a keyword rich search term for you domain name.
A keyword rich search term is a term that users are search for in a search engine.
However the only search engine that we are really concerned with is Google.
For more on keyword search your can visit my blog post on the subject.
That being said, let’s say that you have a local business.
You’ll want to go with a local search term that users are looking for.
In this instance we are going to go with “Calgary Roofing” however I happen to know that that keyword domain name is already taken so I’m going to do what I always do and add the suffix “pros” to the end and then click search.
Almost instantly (depending on how fast your Internet connection is) the results will come up with various top level domain extensions available.
(please note the reason why it says it is not available is because I forgot to take a screen shot and went back and did so afterwards)
The most recognized is .com which almost everyone tries to register.
However, if .com is taken and you are a local business you can try the country extension from where you are reside.
While its disputed amongst search engine marketers some tests have revealed that a local domain extension will give you a small edge over one that isn’t.
For example since I am from Canada a .ca domain name may have a slight edge over a .com, again I’m not saying this is gospel and there is more to ranking a website than the choice of the domain name extension but it is important.
If .com is available you may want to register both to protect your brand.
In this instance, calgaryroofingpros.com is available and so I’m going to register it.
Next step is to select all of the domains that you would like and click “Add to Cart”
Now you’ll come to the shopping cart screen.
And before you decide which method of payment to use, I’ll let you in on a little hint.
Open a new browser window/tab and type in the name of the month follow by “name cheap coupon”
Hence since I’m writing this post in September of 2011 I’m going to type in “name cheap coupon 2011″
and the coupon for this month is: HOTNCOLD
Not only is Name Cheap..cheap but they also have a monthly coupon to save you some dough and once you get more than 50 domains registered they will issue you your own discount coupon to use.
Ok moving forward, I’m going to enter the coupon and get my discount.
(It may be small but hey, better in my pocket then someone else’s)
Now we have two options we are presented with when checking out.
To choose Express Checkout or Checkout.
Express Checkout will allow us to skip a few step of entering administrative details and DNS settings etc. etc.
Also if you have registered a domain name before you won’t have to enter these settings over and over again.
However, I’m going to take the “long” route in order to help you out.
The next screen that you’ll be presented with will be to either create a new account, if you haven’t purchased from name cheap before or to login if you have.
Since I’ve registered quite a few domain names with Name Cheap I’m simply going to login.
You’ll then be presented with four different Registrar Contact Information fields to fill out.
The first one is for the main registrant or owner of the domain.
The second is for an administrative contact.
The third is for a Technical Contact.
The fourth is for a Billing Contact.
This is in case you are a large company and delegate certain functions to certain people.
However, if you’re a small business you’ll be assuming all of these roles and can enter the same information for all contact information.
(Here’s a little hint, use Roboform and fill in your “Identity” with all your personal info and then you simply have to click one button to fill all the forms)
You’ll then be presented with a domain name options screen.
The first option is to enable or disable “whois guard.”
Who is guard will protect your domain name registration details from the public.
This can be good as it can stop you from getting unwanted emails.
Namecheap offers if for free for the first year but afterwards you will have to pay for it.
Frankly I use it for the first year and then don’t bother after that.
The choice is up to you.
The next option is for Name Server settings.
These are what you will have to get from your Web Hosting Company.
You will have received this information from the hosting company when you signed up for hosting.
If you haven’t secured hosting yet, simply use Namecheaps custom name servers.
Once you’ve decided click “next step”
(Unless you’re using your domain name to cloak an affiliate link you don’t need to worry about URL Forwarding Settings and I have never bothered with Email Forwarding Settings as I always use Google Apps to power all of my email)
Next, You’ll then come to the fun (or painful) part we’ve both been waiting for.
The part where we separate from our money and pay for the domain name.
Namecheap has several different options for you to pay.
You can add credits to your account, use pay pal or their payment gateway and enter your credit card information.
I used to use Pay Pal all of the time but I now simply use their check out system.
Enter your credit card information and then click charge and process.
The order will then start to process and with success you’ll be presented with an Order Summary Page that will have your registration details which you can either print or download as a pdf.
If you have any issues along the way you can contact Name Cheap live chat support and they will help you out.
I hope this tutorial has been helpful.
Please leave any comments or ask any questions in the comments below.