Having a website is a necessity these days – whether it is a corporate portal, a personal blog, or a community board, it is the best way to reach millions of people from all over the world with ease. While the site content is very important, you should not neglect the domain name. It is what people remember and associate your site with. Having an appealing and easy to remember domain name may sometimes be just as important as the site content. In this light, choosing the right name is the first step to success when you start your web presence. In this article, we will have a look at some tips and recommendations on how to choose a good domain name and a good registration provider in 2019.

You may wonder what may have changed since last year. A couple of things worth mentioning are the recent security breach of several top-level registrar companies, and the changes in the publicly available WHOIS information after the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force in 2018. 

What is a domain name?

For a start, what is a domain name? This is the unique alpha-numeric web address that identifies each website on the Internet. In the general case, it consists of two parts – a top-level domain (TLD), which is also known as a domain extension, and a second-level domain (SLD), which is the actual name you have chosen for your website. In “example.com”, the part before the dot is the SLD, and .com is the TLD. The combination of the SLD and the TLD is commonly known as a domain name.

Did you know?

More than 100,000 domains are registered every day.

Tips and recommendations to choose a good domain

There are some good practices you can follow when choosing a domain name for your website:

  • Use a domain name that relates to your content. Depending on the site, you can include a personal or a business name in the domain, or you can include some keywords. In all cases, always make sure that the name is related to the content. Imagine a situation where you want to sell books online, and your domain name is cargotrucksusa.com. It is highly unlikely that anybody will make a connection between that name and your online bookshop. 
  • Keep it short. People don’t bookmark every website they visit, so having a short name will make it easier for them to remember that name. Moreover, if they like the site, it is more likely that they will spread the word if they can share a short domain with their friends and colleagues. This will not be the case if your domain is long and includes a lot of words. Most likely, they will simply not bother to remember it. 
  • Keep it simple. Refrain from using hyphens, shortening words, or replacing words by numbers unless it is really necessary (“for” vs. “4” vs. “four”, or “you” vs. “u”). Not only will such a name confuse your visitors, but there is a chance they may end up going to a rival website that may have a similar domain with different spelling. If you need to use a hyphen in the name, do not use more than one. 
  • Choose the right domain extension. Although hundreds of new TLDs were introduced in the last several years, .COM is still the most popular extension out there. It is also very likely that one will add “.com” to any name if they are not sure about the extension. Of course, if your target audience is from a specific region, you may use a country-code TLD like .DE (Germany), .CA (Canada) or .EU (European Union). For an organization, you would rather get a .ORG domain. In some cases, though, it may be worth using a new TLD, which may be more suitable for site content, like .club, .site or .solutions. You can find out more about the most popular TLDs here: https://www.icdsoft.com/blog/what-are-the-most-popular-tlds-domain-extensions/ 
  • Do some research. Make sure that the word(s) you use in the name are not trademarks. Double-check if you have the right keywords, to reach the right audience, and to appear in relevant search results. Do some research on your competition and create a name that is not too similar to their domains. 
  • Think of a few alternative names. You should have a few alternatives in mind in case that the domain name you want to register is not available. A lot of .COM names have already been registered, so if you do not want to use a different domain extension (which is always an option), try to think outside the box. Use different keywords or phrases in your name. Being creative may pay out in the long term. 
  • What if you get stuck? If all names you can think of have already been taken, you can use a domain generator. There are free online tools that will generate different domains based on the keywords that you enter – both for the name, and for the TLD.

Choose a registrar with good reputation

You can register a new domain name through a registrar company that provides the service, or through a reseller that works with a registrar. Do some research on the company before you start doing any business with it.  

  • Make sure the company was not involved in shady practices. If they did it once, who is to say they won’t do it again? There have been cases in the past when some registrars would monitor the domains potential clients were looking up on their website. Then, they would register these domains, and would ask for a much higher price if the clients wanted to proceed with the order. In other cases, registrars would not allow their clients to renew a domain name. Although ICANN, the top-level domain authority, can revoke the registrar’s license if such things happen, the termination process takes time, and it cannot undo any potential damages. 
Several registrars got hacked in 2019
  • Check if the registrar has a clean security record. You will trust them with your personal and payment information, so would you take a chance with a company that failed to protect its own systems? 2019 was not a good year for registrars. In October, US-based registrar Web.com announced a security breach that occurred in August. Its subsidiaries Network Solutions and Register.com, which provide registration services to almost nine million domains, were also affected. As a result, a total of 22 million user records were accessed by an unauthorized party. Another 14 million records leaked when Hostinger, another domain registrar and a hosting provider, was hacked in August. The Greek national registrar ICS-Forth got hacked in April. In another case worth mentioning, GoDaddy suffered an outage after three of its DNS servers were hacked in 2012, taking down millions of websites.
  • Check the pricing policy of the registrar. Some companies will lure you with new domain registrations for a dollar or two, but the renewal will be $20+ per year for a .COM domain. A lot of new TLDs are also often on promotion, and you can get a domain for a few dollars. Their renewal price, however, may be even tens of times higher. The same thing applies to incoming transfers – the registrar may give you a great price to transfer a domain from another company, but you may have to pay a lot the following year. Although it is uncommon and in violation of ICANN policies, some companies also charge for an outgoing transfer. In this light, make sure that you find a company with transparent pricing schemes and policies. 

Did you know?

The longest domain name is 63 characters long – llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogochuchaf.com

WHOIS protection – how much does it cost in 2019?

This is a tricky question. After the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force in May 2018, registrar companies decided to hide the personal information of their European clients by default. This effectively made the WHOIS protection service obsolete. There is no point to pay in order to hide information that is no longer public anyway. As this put non-European customers at a disadvantage, some registrars decided either to hide the personal information of all their clients, or to offer the service for free. Since keeping your personal details private is always a good thing, check if a company charges anything for WHOIS protection, and if so – what the price is. Some registrars will still ask you to pay as much for the protection as you have to pay for the domain registration. Others will try to bundle a free WHOIS protection service with other paid services in an attempt to upsell you. In any case, the service should be completely free these days, at least if an honest company offers it. This is valid for both registrars, and their resellers. 

Check how easy it will be to manage a domain

Some registrars make it easier to manage your domain names than others. Changing the name servers, adding or editing a DNS record, or editing the WHOIS information of the domain, are basic options that you should be able to manage without any hassle. If it takes you a few minutes just to find where to do any of these things in the account, you’d rather use a different provider – one that makes the management of your domains easy, and not a burden. It will be an advantage if the management platform is mobile-friendly as you will be able to manage your domain at any time, and from any device. You can look for some help article they have, where you can see in advance how a given domani will be managed. For instance, here is how you can manage a domain with ICDSoft.

Will you get any free services with the domain?

Some companies will provide free services with each domain name you get, others will try to make you pay even for basic services. For instance, you can find a registrar that offers free DNS management, and/or free WHOIS protection in case that you do not want your personal details to be available to the public. Although one may think these services should be free by default, there are many companies that charge for one or the other. 

Conclusion

To sum it up, registering a domain name in 2019 is not much different than it was before. You should still choose a short and appealing name, and you should still think about the right keywords and the best extension. What is new is that you should pay close attention to the registrar company that you choose, and to the price you will pay for the domain. Some of the major players on the market suffered a data breach in 2019, which inevitably rings alarm bells in any potential customer. At the same time, a lot of registrars offer huge discounts for the first year for new and old TLDs but have really high renewal prices. Often, they try to compensate the unrealistic discounts by upselling their customers. This is why, not only should you find a good domain, but you should also find a good and respectable company that will provide the registration service. Make sure that they are not trying to bundle free services with paid ones just to get more money for things you will never use. 

Registering a domain with ICDSoft

If you decide to get a domain name through our company, you can check its availability on our Domain Registration page. We offer a number of generic and country-code TLDs at cost, so you will not have to pay a cent more than the price we will pay to our registrar. The renewal price will be exactly the same, so you can plan your future expenses well in advance. We also offer free WHOIS protection for all domain extensions that support this feature. With this service, you will get a private email address that third-parties can use to contact you without seeing your real email address.  

You will be able to manage the domain name through our intuitive and mobile-friendly Account panel. Updating the WHOIS information, modifying the nameservers or any DNS record, or renewing your domain name takes just a few clicks.  

If you decide to give us a try, just follow the steps: 

  1. Go to https://www.icdsoft.com/en/domains and type your desired name in the search box. 
  2. Choose the extension you want. Our system will display the availability of the name with all extensions that we support. 
  3. Proceed to the order page where you will have to enter your contact information. Select if you want to add free WHOIS protection and choose a payment method. 
  4. Submit the payment and check your email for the login details for your new Account panel. 
  5. Start using your new domain name within minutes after you order it.