How To Buy a Domain: Domain Registration Guide (2023)

In the 1980s, before the internet became the vast landscape we know it as today, anyone could register a domain name for free. However, by 1995, a company called Network Solutions realized the potential for licensing internet space and began charging $50 a year with a contract minimum of two years to register domain names. Today, domain names can be highly competitive to acquire.

What is a web domain?

A web domain is the common name given to your complex, numerical internet address. Every site on the internet has an IP address, which is a string of numbers that serves as the coordinates for your online destinations. A domain name is a text-based name that represents that numerical IP address.

When you type a web domain into your browser, it funnels your request through the Domain Name System (DNS) server to bring you to the desired site. DNS is a complex directory that converts a text-based domain, which is decipherable by humans, into the corresponding IP address, which is decipherable by computers. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is a global nonprofit organization that helps coordinate the supply of IP addresses through the DNS, along with a variety of other responsibilities such as registrar accreditations and internet policy development.

Components of a domain

There are three main components that comprise a web domain: the top-level domain (TLD), the second-level domain, and the subdomain (known as the third-level domain). These components appear right to left in a URL. Note that not all URLs have subdomains.

TLDs, or domain extensions

The top-level domain (TLD), also known as the domain extension, appears at the end of a domain name, after a period. Think .com, .org, or .io. There are three primary types of domain extensions—generic top-level domains, sponsored top-level domains, and country code level domains.

Generic top-level domain

Generic TLDs include extensions such as .com, .org, and .net. Generic TLDs are either unsponsored and managed through ICANN, or sponsored and coordinated through entities such as private companies or nonprofit organizations.

  • .com The .com domain extension stands for “commercial.” The .com extension comprises over one-third of all registered domain names. Having a .com extension gives your site credibility while also enabling worldwide access. It has fewer restrictions than, say, a country code extension, which usually requires you to actually operate in that country.
  • .org The .org domain extension stands for “organization,” and may direct the user to sites for nonprofit organizations, charities, and other communities. Anyone can register for a .org extension, but it may affect the way others view your business. For instance, running a for-profit business off a .org TLD may appear deceptive to users. The Public Interest Registry manages the .org top-level domain on behalf of ICANN.
  • .net Short for “network,” the .net domain extension is another popular extension for technology sites or other general commercial business, though is a less popular option than .com—only 3% of websites use the .net extension.

Sponsored top-level domains

Sponsored top-level domains include extensions like .gov, .edu, or .post. With sponsored TLDs, entities outside of ICANN are in charge of processing and regulation.

  • .gov The .gov domain extension strictly refers to sites run by the U.S. government. Among other responsibilities, the General Services Administration (GSA) is in charge of assigning domains with .gov extensions to those who meet the right criteria.
  • .edu Short for “education,” the .edu extension is for U.S. schools and universities. EDUCAUSE is a nonprofit association that focuses on learning advancement through enhanced IT, and also serves as the domain registrar for all .edu sites via a contract with the US Department of Commerce.
  • .post This specialized domain extension refers to sites that deal with global postal policies. The Postal Union, a United Nations agency, sponsors this branch of extensions.

Country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) are top-level domains that indicate a sovereign state. Examples of ccTLDs include:

(Video) How to Buy a Domain Name | Domain Name Registration for Small Business [2021]

  • .us US citizens, organizations, or those with a presence in the United States can use the .us extension.
  • .ca This extension is for the country of Canada and is operated through the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA).
  • .tv This ccTLD refers to the island nation of Tuvalu. However, realizing the power of the .tv extension, Tuvalu has used its unique position for commercial purposes, offering marketing rights or domain licenses to foreign businesses who wish to capitalize on the domain suffix.

Second-level domains

Second-level domains, also known as domain names, provide the specific name of where you’re headed, such as “Google,” “Twitter,” or “NewYorker.” Second-level domains are the words to the left of the TLD, and what people usually type into a search bar to get to your website. Long or complicated second-level domains, particularly those that don’t relate directly to your company’s name, can make it tricky for visitors or potential customers to remember where your site is.


A subdomain is the text to the left of the second-level domain. It can help organize your website. When you have sites that need different servers or programs to run than your main site, a subdomain can help you segment your content. For instance, refers to the main Google search engine site, but is a subdomain that refers to Google Docs. Some other common subdomains include “blog” or “mail.”

  • support. A “support.” subdomain (such as “”) may indicate a customer-support-based site that fields complaints, feedback, or other inquiries.
  • blog. Some sites put their blog on a subdomain. For example, “” might take you to a hub of articles.

How to buy a domain

  1. Choose your desired name

    Some helpful tips for creating your domain name include avoiding names that are too long or difficult to remember, keeping the name relevant, and avoiding trademark infringement.

  2. Make it memorable

    Your second-level domain name is what people will type into their search engines or address bar to find your site. Make sure it’s easy to remember by keeping the spelling and pronunciation simple. This name is likely going to be the one people associate with your company, so try to get a domain that is your company name or something close to it.

  3. Make the name directly relevant to your services

    Keep your domain name relevant to your product, service, or organization. Even if your exact business name isn’t available as a domain, choosing a domain name that’s closely related will help build brand recognition for your business.

  4. Avoid trademark infringement

    Ensure your site name does not infringe on any existing trademarks or copyrights by using a trademark-lookup tool.

  5. Select the proper extension type

    The .com extension is the most popular commercial extension for websites, but many domain names aren’t available with the .com extension, because they’ve already been taken. Other extensions like .net (or even a niche domain like “.fun”) can be good alternatives, but they often don’t have the same level of credibility as .com. If you go that route, consider looking for an extension that is relevant to your business. For instance, if you run a yoga studio you might want to use a “.yoga” extension, or those who offer private tennis lessons may use “.tennis.”

  6. Check availability on a domain registrar

    Check the domain name registrars to see if the name you want is available. If it’s already taken, you’ve got the following options:

    (Video) How To Buy A Domain (Step by Step Domain Name Registration Process)

  7. Brainstorm add-on words

    If your exact business name is taken, get creative by thinking of short words you could append to differentiate your domain. For example, the insurance company Oscar wasn’t able to get (that was taken by the film award), so they chose instead.

  8. Ask the current owner

    If the website you want is already taken, you can try negotiating with the current owner to transfer ownership over to you (for a reasonable price). Try finding their contact information (such as an email address) using ICANN’s lookup tool, which helps identify domain owners. Note that some domain owners pay to keep their information private, while other domains may have been purchased through an LLC or other business entity.

  9. Change extensions

    If the domain name you want is already taken, you can try changing the domain name extensions to another choice such as .org, .io, .net, or a niche domain of your choosing.

  10. Use a domain name generator

    If you're not having luck with the above options, a domain name generator can give youhundreds ofdomain ideas instantly—all for domains that are currently available.

  11. Purchase your domain

    When you’ve settled on a domain, it’s time to buy it. Domain prices vary, depending on how desirable the domain is. Many domains cost between $10 and $20 per year, which you’ll have to pay annually to maintain ownership over the domain.

    Premium domains—ones with high marketing value like “” or “”—can sell for thousands, or even millions of dollars.

  12. Create your website using your domain name

    Buying and registering a domain name is a fairly straightforward process.After you purchase a domain, you’ll subscribe to a hosting service and build your website.You can use a website builder, hire a web developer, or code your own site if you know how.

Final thoughts

A domain name is one of the most important components of your business website or marketing strategy. Domains are affordable ways to build your online presence and spread the word about your brand, products, or services. The domain extension you choose and how you set up your site can impact how well the site performs, and in turn, how well your business does.

(Video) Choosing a Domain Name: Do This FIRST!

How to buy a domain FAQ

How do I permanently buy a domain name?

While some domain providers offer long-term leases, it is not possible to register a domain name permanently. This is because ICANN, the organization responsible for governing the registration of domain names, only allows a maximum registration period of ten years.

Can I buy a domain and do nothing with it?

Yes, however because domains do need to point somewhere, your domain provider may have the domain pointing to a default landing page. If you’re looking to hold on to a domain, but your site’s not ready, it’s better to point it to a branded “Coming soon” page.

(Video) How To Buy A Domain Name: Register A Domain Name On Namecheap

Does it matter where you buy your domain name?

Domain providers (which can include registrars, hosting services, web-building platforms, and more) usually offer a range of services at varying price points, so it can matter, depending on your needs and budget. In terms of registration however, it does not matter, since all domains must be registered with ICANN.

What is the difference between a domain name and a website?

A website consists of a group of pages that are all located under a single domain name. The term “domain name” is typically used to refer to the URL itself, and not the website as a whole.

What does it mean when a domain name is expired?

When a domain is expired, it means that the owner of the domain has not renewed thair lease for the domain and that it will become available for purchase by others. An expired domain will no longer point to the website it was previously pointing to.

(Video) Where to Buy a Domain? Best Domain Name Registrars 2023


How To Buy a Domain: Domain Registration Guide? ›

The Basics of Buying a Domain Name That's Already Taken

You can register a new domain name for around $10 – $15 from top domain registrars. Alternatively, you can even get a free domain name when you sign up with hosting companies like Bluehost, Dreamhost, etc.

How do I buy ownership of a domain? ›

Here is the step-by-step process for how to buy a domain name from someone who already owns it:
  1. Research the domain name's value.
  2. Find out who owns the domain.
  3. Get the domain owner's contact information.
  4. Negotiate with the domain owner.
  5. Pay for the domain with an escrow service.
  6. Transfer ownership of the domain.
Jan 14, 2021

How do I register a domain name? ›

How to Register a Domain Name
  1. Find a domain name registrar.
  2. Search for your domain name.
  3. Finalize your domain name choice.
  4. Choose a domain name suffix, such as .com or . net.
  5. Purchase the domain name.
  6. Add Domain ID protection.
Aug 18, 2022

How much does it cost to buy a domain already registered? ›

The Basics of Buying a Domain Name That's Already Taken

You can register a new domain name for around $10 – $15 from top domain registrars. Alternatively, you can even get a free domain name when you sign up with hosting companies like Bluehost, Dreamhost, etc.

How do I get a domain name without a registrar? ›

Obtaining a domain name allows you to map that domain name to the current IP address of your website and to update that IP address when you change hosting. To get a domain name, you need to register one at a domain registrar. There is no way to get a domain name without going through a registrar.

Who do you pay when you buy a domain name? ›

Anyone can buy a domain name. The most straightforward way to do so is to visit a domain name registrar, such as A2, GoDaddy, Google Domains, or Namecheap, key in the domain you want to buy, and pay a fee.

Does it matter who you buy your domain name from? ›

Is There Any Difference Between Domain Registrars? Not all registrars provide the same domain management features. Once you register a domain, it's yours – it doesn't matter which service you purchased it from. If a domain is available, you can usually buy it anywhere you'd like.

Who owns a domain name when you register it? ›

Domain names are owned by whoever first registered the web address with an accredited registrar, such as In order for that person to maintain ownership, they have to pay registration fees and ensure that all of their contact details are up to date.

Do all domain names have to be registered? ›

Domain name registration is necessary for a website, an email or another web service. However, you don't have to always register a new domain name. Many companies allow you to use subdomains of their domain names for a website, or you can have an email with their primary domain (ex.,

How does domain registration work? ›

Domain registration information is maintained by the domain name registries, which contract with domain registrars to provide registration services to the public. An end user selects a registrar to provide the registration service, and that registrar becomes the designated registrar for the domain chosen by the user.

What happens once I buy a domain name? ›

After you buy a domain name, the next step is to search and choose a reliable web hosting provider. Web hosting is a service that lets you publish a website on the internet. When you register for a hosting plan, you get some space and resources on a server to store all of your website files and data.

How do I buy a domain name without a broker? ›

Buying a new domain name is simple. You just visit a hosting provider like HostPapa, enter the domain name you want, and, if it's available, buy it.
Buying Directly from Domain Owners
  1. Step 1: Find the owner's contact information. ...
  2. Step 2: Negotiate a fair price. ...
  3. Step 3: Use an escrow service to pay.
Jan 11, 2023

When you buy a domain How long do you own it? ›

Your domain expires after your registration period unless you renew it. To lock in the current price for the duration, unaffected by price changes, purchase years of registration manually. The typical maximum registration period is 10 years.

Can I create my own domain registrar? ›

Your business must be accredited by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) before you can become a domain registrar for the .com, . net and . name top level domains (TLDs). Go to the ICANN website to start the ICANN accreditation process.

Can I use a fake name to register a domain? ›

Legal Action

Not providing your real name on your website's registration can put you on the wrong side of both the law and domain name registration policy. Using a fake name constitutes "bad faith" in both the eyes of United States anti-cybersquatting legislation and ICANN's own guidelines.

Can I keep a domain name without hosting? ›

Yes, you can buy domain names without buying/having a HostGator hosting plan.

Why is buying a domain name so expensive? ›

The factors that can impact the price of a domain name include: the registrar used, that registrar's expenses and fees, the registry, the type of domain name (regular vs. premium), the TLD itself, and the registrant's objective (registration, transfer, or renewal).

Is Google a good place to buy a domain? ›

Google Domains is definitely one of the best places to register a domain name. Google Domains offers transparent, competitive pricing for most popular domain extensions. It can be pricey for certain extensions — like . io — but it's near or below the competition for extensions like .com and .

Why do I have to pay a yearly fee for a domain name? ›

Most domains are renewed yearly for the same amount you paid for your website domain name originally. This fee is charged so you can keep usage rights of that domain name. Your domain name seller can tell you the price of your renewal upfront.

Should I buy LLC or domain name first? ›

If you sell Business to Consumer, decide on your domain name first, because there is a lot of online competition and you want to stand out in search engine results. If your company is brick and mortar, decide on your company name first.

Should I use LLC in my domain name? ›

No, you are not legally required to put “LLC” in the domain name for your business. In fact, if you look at most websites on the internet, the vast majority do not include a corporate designator (“ending”) in their domain name. Many consider it a little “noisy”. Meaning, it's just extra, unnecessary characters.

Can you legally take a domain name? ›

If you own the trademark to the name used in the domain, you may have an option to take legal action to claim the domain name. This generally applies only if someone is offering similar goods or services as you, and if they began using the name after you.

Do I need a trademark if I own the domain? ›

The name of the domain should be trademarked because that is typically their main brand. You don't want others to take away your ability to use your own trademark. Also, before investing a lot of time and money into your main brand, you would want to get a trademark search done.

Can I sell my domain name to someone else? ›

To transfer your domain name to another registrant, you can initiate a change of registrant by contacting your current registrar. Your registrar will then ask for your confirmation via a secure mechanism (which typically will take the form of an email to the registered name holder).

Is owning a domain the same as a trademark? ›

Trademark rights and domain name ownership overlap in many ways, but they are not the same. Domain name ownership does not necessarily establish trademark rights, and trademark ownership does not necessarily give you the right to own the corresponding domain name.

What Cannot be in a domain name? ›

Domain names can only use letters, numbers, the fada character (acute accent) and hyphens (“-“). Spaces and other symbols are not permitted for use. Names cannot begin or end with a hyphen and are not case sensitive.

What are the rules for domain names? ›

Domain Naming Conventions

Domains can contain the English-language letters a-z, and the digits 0-9. Hyphens can also be used but it can not be used at the beginning and at the end of a domain name. Two hyphens together is usually not permitted and also hyphens cannot appear at both third and fourth positions.

What happens if a domain is not registered? ›

After the registry grace period

If you do not renew the domain name during the registry grace period, it will be placed on a pending status to be deleted. If the original owner or the registrar doesn't buy the domain, it will be deleted and released for general registration.

What is the difference between domain name and domain registration? ›

Domain registration is the act of signing up for a web address that someone can search for on the internet. The domain name may be your business name, your blog page, or even an online store. This domain is in a word format and readable to humans such as A domain name is an easy-to-remember website name.

What happens after I register a domain name? ›

When you register a domain, you become the owner, or registrant, for that domain for a set period of time. Now that you are the registrant, you can create an authoritative record that tells the world the nameservers for your domain.

How long does it take for a registered domain to become active? ›

Usually, activation is completed in 4 hours or less. If the domain still appears inactive after a few hours, it is most likely due to DNS cache. The DNS records need some time to update and might be cached within your web browser or Internet Service Provider. Flushing DNS Cache can also help you see your domain active.

How many times do you pay for a domain name? ›

Domain names require an annual renewal. Most domain names have an annual fee, along with a small ICANN fee (although not all domain extensions will include that fee).

When you buy a domain do you get an email address? ›

Use your domain for a custom email address

If you register a domain, you can set up a personalized email address such as

Do domain names ever expire? ›

Most domain names can be registered for a period from 1 to 10 years. They can be renewed, if necessary, while they are still active or reactivated after their expiration date. The Domain Registry marks any domain name as expired when the expiration date first begins.

Can I buy a domain name and use it anywhere? ›

Yes, you can. Normally when you register the domain name, you own the right to use it and transfer it anywhere you want.

How to get a free domain name for lifetime? ›

With GoogieHost, get Free hosting with domain name LIFETIME. We demand no commitment, no FEES, no PRICE and give you custom nameservers. Click the button to get the FREE DOMAIN.

How much does it cost to start a domain registrar? ›

What are the costs involved in opening a domain registration business? Companies will first need to become accredited, which they can do through ICANN. It's currently $3,500 just to apply to ICANN. (This application fee is non-refundable, regardless of whether or not you're approved.)

Can you really flip domain names? ›

Domain flipping is a bit of a controversial subject in some circles, but it remains a viable opportunity to make extra cash if you're interested. Web domains are traded on an open marketplace, not unlike real estate. Just like you can flip a house by buying it for cheap and selling it for more, you can flip a domain.

How do I buy a domain and host anonymously? ›

Best anonymous hosting services in 2023: ranked
  • Hostinger – overall the best affordable anonymous hosting provider.
  • DreamHost – WordPress-focused anonymous provider.
  • ScalaHosting – fully managed anonymous VPS hosting solution.
  • HostGator – business-oriented provider.
  • Namecheap – budget anonymous website hosting option.
Mar 20, 2023

What happens to my domain if I cancel hosting? ›

Canceling the Hosting account does not cancel the Domain Name. However, if the Domain Name is being used in the Hosting account, websites and emails associated with the Domain Name will no longer be accessible.

Is there a way to permanently buy a domain? ›

Technically, it is not possible to buy a domain name permanently but it can be leased and then renewed after the predetermined period. The minimum registration duration is for a year and if you wish to continue with the domain name, you can visit the registrar's website and renew your lease before the expiration date.

Can I sell my domain to someone? ›

Choose Where to Sell Your Domain Name

When you're ready to sell your domain name, there are a few places you can go to sell it. Experienced sellers various platforms to find buyers, including domain marketplaces and in-person selling. Some popular domain marketplace websites include Afternic, Flippa, and Sedo.

Who owns domain names? ›

Domain names are owned by whoever first registered the web address with an accredited registrar, such as In order for that person to maintain ownership, they have to pay registration fees and ensure that all of their contact details are up to date.

Can you buy domain names and sell them? ›

There are many different ways to buy and sell domain names. Many standard domain registrars, such as, will facilitate sales via auction. Meanwhile, specialized websites, such as Sedo, are designed exclusively to buy and sell domain names.

Can you own a domain without paying yearly? ›

You cannot buy a domain name permanently. Domain name registration is done on a yearly basis. However, you can pre-pay for up to 10 years which guarantees that you will have a domain name for 10 years.

Why do I have to pay yearly for a domain name? ›

Details (like owner contact information and name servers) of the registered domain names are kept in a centralized database, which is maintained by the domain registry/registrar. It costs money to keep the database running. So the domain companies charge you an annual fee to keep things working.

What if someone buys your domain name? ›

If that's the case, you have two primary options: Reach out to the person who owns that domain name and try to informally resolve the domain name dispute. You can either buy it or inform them of the legal liability if you sue them. File a complaint with the ICAAN.

Can GoDaddy sell my domain? ›

Domains can be sold with GoDaddy's List for Sale service. They are listed with a Buy Now price, and once they're sold, they instantly leave your account and move automatically to the buyer.

What happens if someone takes your domain? ›

Contact your registrar

Your domain provider is always the first point of contact when it comes to your domains. At the very moment you realize your domain has been stolen, ask immediately for the transfer to be canceled. Usually, the transfer process is subject to a 60-day transfer lock.

Are domain names owned or rented? ›

Renting a Domain is Not the Same as Leasing or Buying

Renting a domain name typically occurs on a monthly basis, where your business pays for the rental of a domain name already owned by another entity. Leasing a domain name operates similarly but with longer rental terms of usually a year or more.

What is the difference between a domain name and a website? ›

A domain is the name of a website, a URL is how to find a website, and a website is what people see and interact with when they get there. In other words, when you buy a domain, you have purchased the name for your site, but you still need to build the website itself.

What company owns the most domains? ›

20 Largest Domain Registrars in the World (May 2023)
  • GoDaddy: 76.6 million domains.
  • Namecheap: 16.5 million domains.
  • Tucows: 11.1 million domains.
  • Google: 7.9 million domains.
  • Network Solutions: 6.4 million domains.
Apr 24, 2023

How do you flip a domain for profit? ›

5 steps to flip a domain
  1. Search for a domain. First, you need to find a domain that's worth buying. ...
  2. Evaluate the domain. When you find a domain that's friendly to your budget, you'll need to spend some time evaluating it. ...
  3. Register the domain name. ...
  4. Find a buyer for the domain. ...
  5. Sell the domain.
Nov 27, 2019

What is the best website for domain flipping? ›

Best places to sell domains
  1. 1 Godaddy Auction. Godaddy Auction is one of the biggest domain selling marketplaces in the world. ...
  2. 2 Sedo Domain Marketplace. ...
  3. 3 Flippa Domain Marketplace. ...
  4. 4 Afternic. ...
  5. 5 NameCheap Marketplace. ...
  6. 6 eBay Marketplace. ...
  7. 7 NamePros Forum. ...
  8. 8 SnapNames.
Oct 19, 2022

How do I sell my domain by myself? ›

How to Sell a Domain Name and Make Profit in 7 Steps
  1. Park the Domain Name.
  2. Appraise the Value of Your Domain Name. Ensure the Quality of Your Domain Name. ...
  3. Decide on a Pricing Strategy.
  4. Decide Where to Sell the Domain Name. ...
  5. Optimize the Domain Listing.
  6. Use an Escrow Service to Protect Your Domain Name.
  7. Transfer the Domain Name.
Apr 3, 2023


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