Improve Site Performance Increase Site Traffic Monitor Site Uptime Webmaster Resources NetMechanic Home Looking For Help? Partner Programs Privacy Policy Contact Us Press Room
NetMechanic Home LOGIN | HELP | ABOUT US | PRODUCTS | SITE MAP
NetMechanic Menu
Over 52 Million Web Pages Tested!     
 
usable web page tips.
search engine optimization story search.
Search for:


Your Email:

I would like to receive my newsletter in:
HTML format
Text format


usability testing.
Volume 8 (2005)
   September
   June
   April
   March
   January

Volume 7 (2004)
   November
   September
   July
   June
   May
   April
   March
   February (Part 2)
   February
   January (Part 2)
   January

Volume 6 (2003)
   December
   November (Part 2)
   November
   September
   August (Part 2)
   August
   July (Part 2)
   July
   June (Part 2)
   June
   May (Part 2)
   May
   April (Part 2)
   April
   March (Part 2)
   March
   February (Part 2)
   February
   January (Part 2)
   January

Volume 5 (2002)
   December (Part 2)
   December
   November (Part 2)
   November
   October (Part 2)
   October
   September (Part 2)
   September
   August (Part 2)
   August
   July (Part 2)
   July
   June (Part2)
   June
   May (Part 2)
   May
   April (Part 2)
   April
   March (Part 2)
   March
   February (Part 2)
   February
   January (Part 2)
   January

Volume 4 (2001)
   December (Part 2)
   December
   November (Part 2)
   November
   October (Part 2)
   October
   September (Part 2)
   September
   August (Part 2)
   August
   July (Part 2)
   July
   June (Part 2)
   June
   May (Part 2)
   May
   April (Part 2)
   April
   March (Part 2)
   March
   February (Part 2)
   February
   January (Part 2)
   January

Volume 3 (2000)
   December (Part 2)
   December
   November (Part 2)
   November
   October (Part 2)
   October
   September (Part 2)
   September
   August (Part 2)
   August
   July (Part 2)
   July
   June
   May
   April
   March
   February
   January

Volume 2 (1999)
   December
   November
   October
   September
   July
   June
   May
   April
   March
   February
   January

Volume 1 (1998)
   December
   November
   October
   September

 

Beginner Tip:
"How Do I Get A Domain Name?"

by Larisa Thomason,
Senior Web Analyst,
NetMechanic, Inc.

  
April 2003 (Part 2)
Vol. 6, No. 8
 • Design Tip
 • Promotion Tip
 • Beginner Tip
  

That's one of the most frequent questions we receive from beginning webmasters. In this article, we'll answer that question and address other domain name issues that affect all webmasters.

How do I decide on a domain name?

We've covered that particular question in a lot of detail. But basically, you want a name with these characteristics:

  • Short: The maximum allowed size is 63 characters, but keep the name as short a possible. That's easier to type and remember.

  • Memorable: Names with special characters like hyphens and underbars are harder to describe to customers over the phone. Visitors aren't as used to them either and you may inadvertently send customers to your competitors if they have similar names without special characters!

  • Descriptive: Use your company name or a description of your product instead of company initials. People would instantly know what a site called "NeverPayIncomeTaxAgain" is about (although they might be suspicious). The full title is much more descriptive than the acronym "NPITA."

Get more detailed information about domain name selection from these previous Webmaster Tips:

I typed the domain name into my browser and got an error message. Does that mean it's available?

Not always. Here are some possibilities:

  1. The domain name is available.
  2. The owner is designing the site but hasn't posted it yet.
  3. The owner purchased the name for future use.
  4. The owner bought the name, hoping to resell it at a profit.

Just because a name doesn't come up in a browser or a search engine is no guarantee of availability!

So how do I really check availability?

Most Web hosting companies and domain registrars let you check the availability of a domain name and it associated extensions (like .com or .org). Some even offer alternate versions if the name you searched on isn't available.

How do I register the name?

You'll need to use an accredited domain name registrar or one of their agents. Often, your Web hosting company has a relationship with a particular registrar that allows you to purchase your Web hosting account and domain name with one transaction.

That's easy, but it isn't always the cheapest option. You can buy a domain name from any authorized dealer; you aren't required to go through your Web hosting company. Prices for domain name registration vary widely - from as little as $8.00 to $35.00 for the same name!

This is one area where it pays to shop around!

What if the name I want is taken?

Go to the InterNIC WhoIs search page to find the owner. Perhaps he/she is willing to transfer the name to you. Transferring ownership is simple. It may not be cheap.

Some people buy hundreds of domain names on a speculative basis, hoping to sell them at a profit. Expect to pay a premium if you approach a speculator. Depending on the name's perceived value, you may have to pay hundreds, even thousands for it.

However, if an individual owner has just lost interest or decided not to use the name, you can probably get it for very little or nothing.

You can also investigate some relatively new services that allow you to immediately register a domain name if the owner doesn't renew it.

  • SnapNames: "Back order" a particular domain name. Automatically registers the domain in your name as soon as it becomes available.

  • NameWinner: Works on an auction model. You bid on particular domain names and only pay if you get the name.

  • ExpireFish: Uses a different model where you place money in your account to cover names you'd like to purchase and then the ExpireFish service goes "fishing" for the names. Allows users to monitor an unlimited number of names.

Note: NetMechanic isn't affiliated with any of these companies and we aren't endorsing their services. They're listed for information only.

Is it ok to buy an expired domain name?

That depends on the name's history. Find out why the previous owner doesn't want it anymore. The most obvious reasons are pretty benign:

  • Lost interest in maintaining the site.
  • Bought it on a speculative basis and couldn't sell it.
  • No longer running the online business.

A less obvious - and more dangerous reason - is that one or more search engines have permanently banned the site for spam tactics. Gambling and adult sites like to buy up domain names, link them together, and use every spam trick they know to try to boost the search engine rank.

Once the search engines discover the spam sites (it usually doesn't take long), the site (or sites) may have their URLs permanently banned. At that point, the URL is worthless to the spammers: they release it and buy more.

That means that no matter how hard you work at link popularity, how carefully you create content and optimize your pages for particular engines, you'll never achieve a high rank with the expired domain name.

Check out the history of expired domain names before you buy at the Wayback Machine. It's a historical search engine that maintains records of how Web sites appeared months - or even years - in the past.

Enter the domain name you're interested in into the search box and check its history. Steer clear of sites that appear to have consisted mainly of affiliate links, online gambling, or adult content.

Your domain name is your online identity so make sure that it's clear and memorable enough that visitors can find your site after their initial visit. But remember that most first-time visitors will find you through search engines. That's why it's important to optimize your page using Search Engine Power Pack. It's an online tool that gives you valuable advice about selecting keywords, writing META tags, optimizing your page for particular search engines, and submitting your site.

A good domain name is just your first step to online success. Search engine promotion is a continuing process that keeps traffic coming to your site.



Rate This Tip:
Not Useful Useful Very Useful   
 
NetMechanic Tools
HTML Toolbox
Browser Photo
Server Check
Search Engine Starter
Search Engine Tools
GIFBot
Newsletter
HTML Tutorial and Tips
Search Engine Tutorial
Accessibility Information
Browser Problem Tutorial

Company Info
Products
About Us
Contact
Advertise
Link To Us
Jobs
Privacy Policy
Partner Programs
Press Room
RSS Feed
Support
 



Powered by Overture!

 
     
 
   
 
     


Keynote Home
Copyright © 1996-2007,
Keynote NetMechanic
All rights reserved.