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5 Best Practices to Consider When You Register a Domain Name

A little Domain 101 to start you off.


A domain name is the part of a url that has the root name and extension of your website. For example, the root name of this website is "schmutzie" and the extension is ".com", which means: schmutzie + .com = my domain name, schmutzie.com.

Your domain name is the address that people need to find you and your content on the internet, and so it is important that you choose a strong domain name and maintain as much control as you can over that domain name. The following are a few things to consider.

Onion misses our houseguest, Drew
Onion wants you to have a long and happy relationship with your website.

One

Create your own account with the domain registrar and buy the domain yourself to maintain control of your domain name.

Do not leave this up to your designer, host, or even your very bestest friend, because if you do not have complete control and ownership of your domain under your own account:
  1. You can lose control of your domain if the person who actually controls the registrar account disappears, becomes injured or dies, or decides they hate you, all of which I have seen happen, and
  2. You will not actually have legal rights to your domain, which means you have no right to maintain or control the domain attached to your website except through the good will of the person who actually owns it.
I have horror stories for you, I promise.

Two

Choose a short domain name of 15 characters or less. People are more likely to remember your domain name and spell it correctly if it is short and sweet. ILoveEmusTheyAreGreat.com might seem like a good idea, but, trust me, ILoveEmus.com is a better alternative. It is simpler and easier to remember.

Three

Don't use counterintuitive spelling or hyphens. If you want people to find you, spell it cutekittens.com, not kyoot-kittens.com. Quirky only works if it's searchable on Google, and nobody will ever type the hyphen.

Four

Choose a more common domain extension. When people type a url into their browser, they will most likely try to end a url with a more common top-level domain extension such as .com rather than lesser-used ones like .tk or .cc. Also, the less common top-level domain extensions are often seen as possible spam, and so people are less likely to click on them.

Five

Use a registrar like MyDomain.com that allows you full control of your DNS settings such as hostname records, mail exchangers, and nameservers. You don't have to know what these are, but accept that they are important for your future, and don't settle for less.

Some domain registrars do not give you full access to all of the settings associated with controlling the behaviour of your domain name. This means that your ability to control the very stability of the rock upon which your website is built is left up to your registrar's customer service agents or the dude who's running an operation out of his basement or what have you.

Adding an extra layer of communication with strangers between you and your control of your own real estate means, again, that you do not control what happens with your domain. Do not leave it up to a customer service rep to decide what can and cannot happen with your domain records.

UPDATE:

Six

Whois privacy might seem like a good idea, but it is usually a terrible idea in many instances. Whois privacy is a service registrars offer that removes your name and address from public lookup. What most people don't realize is that this also removes your information from the Owner record on your registrant account, which may also remove you as the legal owner of that domain and hand it over to your registrar, depending on their fine print. You will still get to use the domain, but you may no longer have legal rights over it. If your registrar decides to close up shop or sell your domain for a profit to someone else, you're in trouble.

My advice? Drop your Whois privacy and make sure your name is listed in the Owner record on your account.


"ICANN has since remedied that situation by requiring all accredited registrars maintain their customers' contact data in escrow. In the event a registrar loses its accreditation, gTLD domains along with the escrowed contact data will be transferred to another accredited registrar."

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Want to know why you should even buy a domain name for your website?
Here are 5 Reasons to Register Your Own Domain Name.