Getting Started with Domain Names

Buying your first domain name? Your hundredth? Here's What You Need to Know.

Getting Started with Domain Names

Whether you own one domain name or one thousand, there are things that you need to know when investing in domain names. Domain names are valuable assets (technically, intellectual property but his license from the registry) which gives you the ability to brand yourself or your business. You can also use short domains for easy and convenient access for customers to your web services. They are also used as investments, with people buying and selling domain names, looking for appreciation in value over time.

When getting started with domains, there are some basic things to keep in mind:

  • Technically, you do not own your domains. You have a license to use that domain consistent with the rules and policies of the individual registry that issued that domain.
  • Domain names generally include what is called a top level domain and a secondary level domain. These are referred to as TLD and SLD. For example, with domain.com, the ".com" is the "TLD" and "domain" is the SLD.
  • Each domain SLD, such as .com, .net, .info, .law, etc. are controlled by a single "registry". Resellers, called "registrars" have exclusive access to the registry. The public and domain investors do not have direct access and must to through resellers who are either themselves registrars or are resellers of a registrar.
  • Most domain extensions have domains that can consist of letters, digits and hyphens. Those without digits and hyphens tend to be more valuable (except for domains which are extremely short or where the SLD is all digits).
  • Domain names need to be renewed on an annual basis. Many people choose to prepay several years for the sake of convenience. The vast majority of domains on the Internet renew for between eight dollars and twenty dollars per year.
  • There are a few extensions with a handful of new registries where either the entire extension or certain premium domains using that extension renew for hundreds or thousands of dollars per year. This is the rare exception, and does not apply to 99.9% of domains.

 

Some of the most successful domain choices include:

  • Brandable domains like Yahoo and Google, that mean nothing outside the scope of the company or product.
  • Short names are great, memorable and easy to provide to clients and prospects.
  • Keyword domains - while longer - are great for search engines and search marketing. They can also generate "type in traffic": a user types in the keywords they want with ".com" on the end, coming straight to the site linked to that domain.

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