Affordable Domain Name Registration
This is a guide for people who are new to the internet, web hosting and domain name registration. It is an informal look at various aspects of the business, with the hope of developing good understanding in the reader so they can make informed decisions. Finding affordable domain registration and hosting is key to getting your information online in a manner that's easy to access for the public, and a great way to save money for your business.
First of all, while the technology of the Internet is quite complex, it was designed to exchange information quickly, easily, and effectively. Concepts such as web hosting and domain registration are actually very simple and understandable. With the recent growth and availability in online technology, it's becoming easier and less expensive to get your own domain and develop a web site -- or even manage your own server.
What is a Domain Name?
The Internet is a network of computers, all speaking a similar language so that they can exchange information and understand each other easily. Each computer on this network needs to have a unique identifying number so that communications can be directed effectively. This number is called an "IP address", and looks something like this: 220.127.116.11. You can think of this number as being very similar to a phone number. While we usually think of them as being associated with a single machine, they can actually be shared by several computers or web sites; much like several people living together in the same home, sharing a single phone number.
While IP addresses are very efficient, long numbers can be hard for humans to remember. Domain names were developed to make it easier for people to find, remember, and connect to the sites and information they're looking for. Just like a phone book, the Domain Name Registry is a huge index of domain names (like "SurfZen.com") which are associated with their unique IP addresses.
So when you type a search for "www.surfzen.com" in your browser, you are actually giving it instructions to open up the big Internet phone book, find SurfZen's number, and connect to the site.
A Good Domain Name is Important
Short, evocative domain names are easier to remember than long boring ones. If you see a web site address in a print ad or on TV, what are you more likely to remember "www.surfzen.com" or "www.internet-domain-name-registry-of-liberty-city.biz"?
While domain names like "business.com" and "sex.com" have sold for millions of dollars, it's important to note that some of the most popular sites in the world do not have descriptive names like that (see domain name tips for more info). Yahoo! (www.yahoo.com), for example, is the single most popular Internet web site directory in the world, yet the name doesn't describe what it is or what it does. So why is it so popular? Well, Yahoo! is a special case, because they started very early in the Web world, and as one of the only Web sites to index the Web, word of mouth quickly spread.
But Yahoo! also provides an excellent service, which again gives it good word-of-mouth publicity. So, having a short, unique, memorable name can be more useful in some ways than having a long, descriptive one.
What Should You Pay for Your Domain Name?
What you pay for a domain name, and whether you save money doing it, depends entirely on what the domain can do for you. If you registered "eBay.com" in the early 1990's, you wouldn't necessarily be a millionaire today. While the name is short, unique, a "dot com", and easily branded, it has little or no meaning without the service for which it has become famous. So what is an affordable domain name?
Domain names can be purchased today for anywhere from $10 to $10,000,000. While ten million dollars sounds outrageous, if the site can generate ten million dollars a year in revenue, then it would definitely be worth it. What name could do that? Probably "disneyworld.com", "viagra.com", or "tvguide.com", to name just a few.
So if someone already owns the perfect domain for you, and they aren't making good use of it, you should probably ask them if it's for sale, and at what price. If you have a worldwide marketing campaign ready for "Purple Fudge", then paying $10,000 for "purplefudge.com" is probably worth it.
On the other hand, if you can come up with an alternate name that hasn't already been taken, say, pfudge.com or p-fudge.com you can snatch it up for a song at a reputable domain name registrar.
SurfZen provides affordable domain name registration at a fraction of the cost of the major registrars (75% less in most cases), and with a host of features to make it easy for you to manage and maintain your domain names online.
Domain Name Registration Tips
As discussed in the section on affordable domain name registration, your domain name is an important aspect of your online presence. A short, evocative domain name that's easy to remember is an excellent start in building and maintaining your target audience.
In the early 1990's the registration of domain names was strictly regulated. Originally, the .com extension was reserved exclusively for registered businesses, the .net extension for network services (such as web hosting, internet service provision, etc.), and .org was reserved for community groups, non-profit, and other types of organizations.
Today, .com is used by almost anyone, for any purpose. The other extensions tend to be used as alternatives when the .com is already taken (though in general .org is still used for its originally intended purpose).
What's the Best Name for You?
The .com extension has become synonymous with Internet business and is often used colloquially to describe the whole of the Internet culture, technology, business, e-commerce, etc., as "dot com". For this reason, .com domain names are often considered to be worth more. It is the first extension people think of when they type in a domain, and it is likely to garner traffic intended for other sites. For example, if you register "myorganization.org", it is quite likely that people familiar with your organization will type "myorganization.com" into their browsers first, when trying to reach you. For this reason, many organizations who use .org extensions also try to get the .com to go with it, so their image is not harmed by confusion with other sites.
So, if you're planning on starting up a networking company or an organization that should have a .net or .org domain name, you should consider registering the .com as well to make connecting easier for your visitors, reduce confusion and lost traffic to your site, and to preserve your branding.
Many companies, groups, or organizations may find it beneficial or even necessary to make their country of origin obvious in their domain name. If you offer goods or services only in your country of origin, or offer information uniquely targeted to a regional group, you should consider getting a "country code" extension, also referred to as a "Top Level Domain" or TLD.
There are literally hundreds of TLDs, though many of them require proof of residence or registration of a business name in their country to acquire a domain. Here are some examples of popular country TLDs:
Similar to Tuvalu, other country codes like .to, .at, and .it can be used for marketing reasons other than to denote citizenship or location.
- .uk (United Kingdom), including .co.uk, .me.uk, .org.uk (company, personal, and organization sites respectively)
- .ca (Canada), including domains similar to the UK domains, but separated by province code (for example, .on.ca for Ontario sites)
- .us (United States), though .com, .net and .org TLDs originally described American sites, their use internationally spawned interest in and creation of the .us domain.
- .tv (Tuvalu), a British colony in the South Pacific, Tuvalu sells its TLD on a sliding scale, due to the obvious application for television (TV) based markets.
Finding a Good Domain Name Registrar
Good domain name registrars are hard to find. Most of them charge extremely high rates for very limited services. They take advantage of consumer ignorance to increase profits, but some companies have gone even further than that. Many of the so-called "big name" registrars have resorted to criminal activity to keep clients, gain new clients, and literally steal clients from smaller companies. Before you register, take a moment to educate yourself and become aware of the pitfalls in the terrain. Later, we'll recommend registrar services you can rely on.
Network Solutions and other "Big Name" Registrars in Hot Water
Registering domain names with "big name" companies like Network Solutions is not only expensive (almost 5 times SurfZen's rates, for the same service), the FTC recently found they were also using criminal (fraudulent) business practices:
Network Solutions, Inc. has settled Federal Trade Commission charges that its deceptive marketing practices unlawfully tricked consumers into transferring their Internet domain name registrations to the company. The terms of the settlement permanently bar Network Solutions from misrepresenting that a consumerís domain name is about to expire or that the transfer of a domain name is actually a renewal. The order also requires the defendant to pay consumer redress pursuant to the terms of a previously settled class action lawsuit.
It is highly recommended that you stay away from the "big names" like Network Solutions, eNom and Register.com, not only because their prices are outrageously high, but because they simply can't be trusted.