How to Choose a Domain Name Registrar
Getting a domain is the first step of building a website and can be a challenge. First, you have to decide on what domain you want, which can take days or weeks as you brainstorm a list of possible domains and then check if they are available. But it doesn't stop there. Next, you have to register the domain.
What is the best way to register your domain? Should you bundle your domain registration with your hosting or get your domain and hosting at separate places? What features should you look for in a domain name registrar, and what are the red flags of a registrar you should avoid? In this article, we answer those questions for you and more.
What is a Domain Name Registrar?
Domain name registrars are companies that handle the sale of unique domain names. To become a registrar, a company must get accredited by the Internet Corporation for Assign Names and Numbers (ICANN) or a country code top-level domain. Each registrar may only handle a few top-level domains or have a wide range of choices. Most will allow you to register generic domain names, including those that end in .com, .net, .org, and .info. Some country code top-level domains include .de, .uk, and .fr.
According to ICANN, there are over 1,000 active domain name registrars, which means you have many options. So how do you choose?
What to Look for in a Domain Name Registrar
Not all domain registrars are the same. Many domain registers have added features to domain registration for free or a small fee to differentiate themselves from competing companies. If these features are something you need, then look for a registrar. Here are some features you can compare when looking for a registrar.
While some domains will cost you more than others, registering a domain should be relatively cheap. The most common domains should cost from $10 to $15, and premium domains could cost you up to $40. If the cost is important to you, compare the prices. Not all registrars charge the same price for the same domain. Also, compare renewal pricing. Some registrars offer a lower price when renewing a domain than when you first register it.
The minimum amount of time you can register a domain is one year, but it is possible to register a domain for up to ten years at a time. Some registrars take advantage of this and require you to sign up for more than one year. If you don't want to register your domain for more than one year at a time, then look for another registrar.
Choice of Top-Level Domains
You can register a domain ending in .com, .net, .org, or .info at just about any registrar, but some cannot register some of the other top-level domains. There are over 1500 registrars to choose from now, so make sure the registrar you choose offers the top-level domains you are looking for.
Anyone with access to the internet can look up the owner of a domain using the WHOIS Lookup tool and find an owner's name, address, telephone number, and email address. Some domain registrars offer WHOIS protection, which means they put their own company's details in these fields to protect your identity. Some offer it for free, and some charge for this service.
Automated Renewals and Reminders
If your domain expires before you can renew it, someone else can buy it out from under you, and all you can do then is register another domain for your website. Some registrars offer automated renewals if you store your credit card, or they can send you reminders to prevent this from happening.
What to Avoid in a Domain Name Registrar
All domain registrars are accredited, but this doesn't mean that some won't resort to questionable practices to get more money out of you. Here are some red flags to look out for.
Some registrars will offer really low prices to get you to sign up and then switch back to their normal prices, which could be much higher after a promotional period. Others charge extra fees to transfer your domain to another registrar when you want to leave. So always read the fine print.
Bad Customer Service
Some registrars provide little support. If you are looking for 24/7 support, make sure the registrar you choose has this feature. Test the support out before you sign up by asking about pricing or transfer fees and see how long they take to respond.
Default Upsells and Addons
Watch out for domain registrars that automatically check boxes in the buying process to add extra services to your account. You may not need these. If all you need is a domain, you should only have to pay the domain registration fee.
How to Decide Where to Buy Your Domain
In the end, the decision is up to you and depends on what you need out of a registrar. If you are using a common top-level domain and are also looking for hosting, you might like the convenience of getting both hosting and your domain from the same company. That way, you don't have to worry about setting up DNS or paying two bills.
If you don't need all the features we mentioned, check out a few and make a price comparison to find the one with the best prices. Also, don't forget to look at the registrar's domain renewal pricing and look out for the red flags we mentioned.
And if you are looking for a high-value premium domain that already has the type of domain authority that will make your website stand out from day one, check out aftermarket.com's domain marketplace.