You can’t build a successful commercial website without a domain name. All websites are powered by a domain name. It’s the unique identifier specifying a website’s location on the ever-expanding internet.
According to the security services provider Verisign, there are now over 350 million active domain names. While registering a domain name may seem like a straightforward process, though, there are several myths that can lead you down the wrong path.
1. Ownership Is Forever
Registering a domain name doesn’t mean that you’ll own it forever. Registration does, in fact, indicate ownership. As long as it’s registered under your name, you’ll own your domain name. You’ll have exclusive rights to sell or transfer it to anyone whom you choose.
The companies that sell domain registrations, known as registrars, only offer registrations for a fixed length of time. As required by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the minimum length for registrations is one year, whereas the maximum length is 10 years.
Therefore, you must renew your domain name before it expires to maintain ownership. If you don’t renew it, you’ll forfeit of ownership to the registrar. The registrar may then auction off your domain name to the highest bidder.
2. All the Good Domain Names Are Taken
Another widely believed myth is that all the good domain names are taken. During the dot-com bubble of the late 90s, speculators scooped up massive amounts of domain names to resell for a profit. When the bubble burst, many of these speculators struggled to find buyers, so they allowed their domain names to expire.
There are still speculators who register domain names solely to resell them, but there are plenty of amazing domain names currently available. You can often find a short and brandable domain name simply by playing around with different words.
If a domain name is taken, try replacing some of its words with synonyms. Alternatively, you can use a domain name generator tool like namemesh.com or nameboy.com to find an amazing domain name.
3. Alternative TLDs Are Available to Everyone
Registrars offer dozens of top-level domains (TLDs) besides .com and .net. Since they aren’t as common as their .com and .net counterparts, these alternative TLDs can be an attractive choice.
You should know, however, that alternative TLDs aren’t available to everyone. ICANN has restrictions on certain alternative TLDs that limit who can register them and for what purposes.
The .edu TLD, for instance, is limited to colleges, universities and other higher educational institutions. The .gov TLD, on the other hand, is limited to U.S. government entities and municipalities.
Many country-specific TLDs come with restrictions as well. Only U.S. citizens and residents can register a domain name with the .US TLD, whereas only E.U. citizens and residents and register and use the .EU TLD.
4. Your Personal Information Is Always Protected
When you provide your personal information – name, address, email address and phone number — to the domain registrar, you may assume that no one else will see it.
After all, why would a registrar share your personal information with other people or businesses? Well, ICANN requires registrars to add their customers’ contact information to a database.
Known as the WHOIS database, it allows relevant individuals and businesses to get in touch with a domain name’s owner. Unfortunately, spammers and scammers alike use public WHOIS records to find new victims. To prevent your personal information from showing in the WHOIS database, you need to secure WHOIS privacy protection.
WHOIS privacy protection is a service that conceals your personal information in the WHOIS database. It’s offered by most registrars. With WHOIS privacy protection, the registrar will display its contact information in the WHOIS record for your domain name rather than your personal information.
5. Must Contain Only Letters
While domain names consisting solely of letters typically work best, you can use other types of characters in your domain name. ICANN allows domain names to contain numbers. It also allows them to contain hyphens. The hyphen is the only special character that you can use in a domain name.
Keep in mind, neither the first nor the last character of your domain can be a hyphen. You must place hyphens somewhere in the middle. Otherwise, the registrar will reject your domain name.
6. The Registrar Doesn’t Matter
If you think all registrars are the same, you could be in a world of hurt. There are obviously price differences between registrars. Some of them charge more for registrations than others. Additionally, some registrars offer privacy WHOIS privacy protection at no additional cost, whereas others charge a fee for this service.
Registering a domain name with the wrong registrar may cost you more than just money; it could cost you the domain name itself. Online message boards are filled with horror stories about unscrupulous registrars hijacking their customers’ domain names.
Fortunately, credible registrars like GoDaddy and Namecheap have honest business practices, so using them won’t jeopardize your domain name.
7. Domain Names Don’t Affect SEO
The domain name you choose, as well as the length for which you register it, can affect your website’s level of search engine optimization (SEO) success. Search engines don’t necessarily look for keywords in domain names. You can include a keyword in your domain name, but it won’t directly help your website rank for it.
For better SEO, you should register a domain name that’s short, memorable and unique. These three qualities will allow visitors to find your website more easily. Search engines will see that your website is popular, so they may increase its rankings.
Choosing a registration period longer than the one-year minimum can prove effective for SEO. To save money, most spammers register their domain names for one year only. Domain names registered for five or 10 years are considered more trustworthy because they are rarely used by spammers.
The domain name is the foundation on which you’ll build your website. If if it’s weak, your website will crumble. If it’s strong, your website will grow. Just remember to avoid these common myths when registering a domain name.