Reputation matters when choosing a host ...
In a nutshell, it's pretty simple: You just find a name
that's not been registered, pay between approximately $7 and $25 for a
year to a registrar, and voila, you have yourself a domain name.
So, how do you pick a name?
The general criteria I use for choosing a name are:
- It does not contain any words which might be a trademark infringement.
- It is short, memorable, and easy to type.
- It is available as both a dot-com and dot-org TLD. (TLD -- Top Level Domain. It's the "com" part of anydomain.com.)
- It can't be confused for a similar site.
I mentioned in my previous article I will be starting a blog about
hiking and exploring Arizona. Since I have some health issues, I use a goat
as a pack animal. I figure that the goat will be the thing people
remember most about my new blog, so I want something to do with the
goat in the blog's domain name.
To register the domain, I went to Namecheap.com.
quick word on registrars: reputation and customer service really do
I chose Namecheap not because they're cheap, but because I've
never heard much of anything bad about them. As an example of what can
go wrong, on the extreme end of the really-bad-registrar spectrum there
was a registrar called Registerfly
that was going out of business --
but they defied court orders to allow customers to transfer their domains to
other companies even as they were circling the drain. Millions of domains were tied up in the mess. By regulation,
you're supposed to be able to transfer your domains at any time to
another registrar. So reputation (and solvency) does matter.
Other reasonably reputable registrars include Dynadot.com and Moniker.com.
to picking a domain out: My first thought was that I would call it
Goathiker.com. While "goathiker.com" isn't registered, a quick search
of Google turned up a guy who also hikes with goats and uses that
handle on Youtube
. Plus, I'm pretty sure I've seen him posting around
the various goat packing sites and mailing list. Since I don't want to
risk confusion with the other Goathiker, I decided I'd choose a different
Other options that I came up with after a few minutes of brainstorming:
like hAZagoat. Sunnywethers also strikes a chord with me, but it has
the problem of being longer and harder to remember. People (even goat
people) have a seem to struggle to remember how to spell "wether" -- which is a neutered male goat. They often spell it "weather" or "whether" or
"wither." And "sunnyweather" is already taken, so I couldn't buy that to set
up a redirect to send people back to my blog. Of the other two,
ArizonaGoats sounds like a good name for a forum or farm site.
Hoofandboot doesn't flow well when I read it.
I decided I would get hAZagoat.
Now, a quick word on domain registration:
no circumstances do you want to search for a domain until you're ready
to buy it. I checked for domain names with a credit card in hand. If
you search for a domain, find one you like, and then wait, you may
come back and see that someone else has purchased it.
There are people who have access to lists of domain searches that you
make and if they see a tasty looking domain they'll register it. I've
had this happen twice to me, enough to convince me that it's a real
If you change your mind later, domains are relatively cheap at around $9 each. That's lunch, or a new manga.
I do see one problem with hAZagoat. People will typo it as "hasagoat."
And if the blog takes off, I'll end up with a scaper sitting there
making money off of people's typos. I'd much rather collect that
traffic for myself, and help my readers find me in the process. I've
checked and both domains are available so I'll buy four domains --
hAZagoat.com and hAZagoat.org, plus hasagoat.com and hasagoat.org.
not going to bother with other TLDs. Nobody really goes to other TLDs
by mistake, and they have little value. Plus, some are very expensive
Now, a quick tip that applies
to lots of different online vendors. Namecheap (and most other domain
registrars) ask for a coupon code. If you don't have a coupon, you can
register for more money. However, why pay the full price when you don't
Namecheap offers coupons to
affiliates who make commissions from Namecheap by sending buyers their way. (Annoying, I tried
to apply to Namecheap to be an affiliate for this article, because I'm
cheerfully capitalistic and like making money, but I couldn't figure
out how to sign up. Oh well.)
To find one of the handy affiliates with the handy coupon codes, I went out to Google and typed "Namecheap" and "coupon."
first site to come up was called "Retailmenot.com
" and yep, they've got a
coupon for me. They tell me that the code "Glowingsky" will save me a
little bit on domain registration for the month of July 2008. Instead
of $9.29 it'll be $8.41. They'll get a commission from my purchase
since I clicked on their site to go back to Namecheap and I'll save a
few dollars. Everybody wins! Yay!
So now I go off to pay around $33 for my four domains.
There's no real need to buy four domains like I did. You can certainly
just buy one. If you do, I recommend getting the dot-com tld for your
blog. However, if you become popular, even just moderately, there's
a high likelihood of scrapers or worse squatting on the other tlds and typos of your domain. This happens even to very small sites --
the bulk domainers who buy large quantities of domains are paying less
than a dollar a domain. It only takes a couple of ad clicks to make
that domain profitable. If they have 1,000,000 domains and make an average of fifty
cents a month off each domain ... well, you do the math.
To buy my domains, I needed to register on Namecheap using valid contact information. This is very important -- you must
Namecheap correct information for you. You
can potentially lose your domain if you use false information to
register. (This is true at any registrar.)
voila! After registering and plugging in my credit card number,
Namecheap registered the domains for me. I now have an account with
Namecheap with my domains in it. However, this does
not mean that I can see a web site at my domains. To do
that, I'll need to get a host and point the DNS for the name at my new
host. We'll cover that process in the next blog post.
I will not be getting hosting with Namecheap, nor would I do the reverse and register a domain through my host
My personal feelings are that your registration for your domain and the
company you host your site with should always, always, be separate. The
reasons for this include:
- If your host
goes under either because of bankruptcy or a disaster, if your domain registration is elsewhere you
can simply go to a new host, fork over a little cash, and start over.
You'll still have your domain because it's registered elsewhere.
However, if the servers are down and nobody's answering the phone and
you've registered your domain with your web site host, you're screwed. If you can't access their servers, you can't repoint your domain to a new site.
You will probably be able to get the domain back -- eventually -- with a
lot of hassle. However, by the time you do, your readers will have lost
the habit of visiting your site, and you may have lost your search
engine rank and even many of your backlinks.
- Your host decides you've done something naughty with your account. This
may or may not be your fault; I know of one major site that lost their
hosting with no warning because they identified and outed a scam artist
and the scam artist called their host and was abusively nasty to the
host's employees. The host decided they didn't want to deal
with it, and terminated the site's account.
- You're in a financial dispute with your host. They say you owe more
money than you think you do. If you're registered with your host, they have you by the short hairs. They can shut down your site
and hold your domain hostage until you pay whatever they claim you owe.These may or may not be legitimate charges.
registered your domain elsewhere, and your host hits you with unfair
charges, you can say, "Nanny nanny boo boo, see me in small claims
court!" and point your domains at a site with their competition and
have the site back up and running the next day.
(Having good backups help, incidentally, in all three scenarios.)
we've covered domain registration and now I have a name for my new
blog. In my next article, I'll cover finding a host and getting my
new domains pointed at the right place. Look for an article here every