open notebook with artwork showing domain related terms

A domain name is your website’s location on the internet. It translates the digits that make up your IP address into something catchy that people can remember. Domain names are bought through Domain Name Registrars, companies that manage the reservation of domain names and point them to your website.

RELATED: What Is DNS, and Should I Use Another DNS Server?

Where To Buy a Domain Name

Google Domains home page

When you buy a domain name, you do so through a “Domain Registrar” that manages the registration of that domain name. For most registrars, you’ll buy the domain from them and then use a hosting provider to manage the website. Some companies provide both services.

Google Domains is a great tool for finding domains and integrates well with Google’s mail services. Namecheap and Hover are other great options and offer good DNS support and mail hosting in addition to low prices on domains.

You can also buy directly from your hosting provider (like GoDaddy), but if you want to switch providers, it’s generally more difficult as you’ll usually have to transfer the domain to another registrar, sometimes even having it locked down to that specific host.

What if My Domain is Already Taken?

If someone already has your domain, you might still be able to buy it, but it will cost more. This is because instead of buying it from a registrar for a standard price, you’ll have to buy it off of whoever has it. Many people register domains they think could be profitable and then sell them on domain marketplaces like Sedo and Afternic. You can try searching those services if you need that specific domain.

The cheaper thing to do though is to try a different top level domain (like “.net” or “.biz” instead of “.com”). There are many mainstream ones like .org, .net, and .co, but also some more obscure ones like .xyz, .biz, and .business. Often these won’t be taken, and you can find a domain with the same name by buying one of these.

What Happens After I Buy My Domain?

The first thing to know is that your domain is not a website, it’s just the “name” of your website on the Internet. You’ve reserved the name, but you’ll still need the actual site. If you’ve bought your domain through your hosting provider, you should already have it set up, but if you’ve just bought the domain, you’ll need to point it to a hosting provider by changing the DNS settings.

If you don’t know how to build a site, you can read our guide on the best code-free website builders. These services let you build your site without coding, often just by applying a premade template. Weebly and Wix are easy to use, and both have free plans to get started.

RELATED: How To Accept Credit Card Payments On Your Website

If you’re planning on building a blog, you’ll probably want to use WordPress, which is a content management system that handles all of your blog posts with a nice editor and powerful templates. You’ll still need to host it, so you can read our guide on the best-managed WordPress hosting providers to find what’s right for you.

Profile Photo for Anthony Heddings Anthony Heddings
Anthony Heddings is the resident cloud engineer for LifeSavvy Media, a technical writer, programmer, and an expert at Amazon's AWS platform. He's written hundreds of articles for How-To Geek and CloudSavvy IT that have been read millions of times.
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