The content found here is loosely tied to Alley Kat Web Consulting's very first blog post named Establishing a Brand. In our branding article, we briefly touched on choosing the proper domain name for branding purposes and making a name for yourself. In this piece, we will cover the basics of how to choose a domain registrar.
Choosing an accredited registrar is an important step in establishing your online presence, including securing your brand, having a website, or even your own branded email. We will cover more about these specific associated products in another post. For this entry, let us discuss choosing the perfect company to secure your domain names.
What is a Domain?
To understand why anyone would look for a "domain registrar," we will first touch on step one, what exactly is a domain name? The actual definition according to Wikipedia, "A domain name is an identification string that defines a realm of administrative autonomy, authority or control within the Internet."
In even simpler terms, let's just call it intellectual property (IP) that is tied to a specific name, such as a brand, company, slogan, or your name, which can directly relate to an online internet IP address and ends with an extension, such as .com.
Now, to fully understand the weight of domain names, we need to understand that each extension has rules, requirements, and restrictions. Each TLD (top-level domain) also has its history and purpose. The average consumer may not need to look into these too far, but for organizations, you may want to secure your brand and expand from gTLDS (generic top-level domains) to ccTLDs (country-code top-level domains) to prevent other companies from treading into your intellectual property. Here are some example extensions below.
- .CA - Canada
- .JP - Japan
- .ID – Indonesia
- .NO – Norway
- .BR - Brazil
What is a Domain Registrar?
As I mentioned in the last segment, choosing a domain registrar is important — especially for any long-term investments.
To review registrars, let's start by first explaining that there are two primary types of providers that you can register domains through; an accredited registrar and a reseller.
Do your research and be informed. By gaining some insight into the market and the prices, it will give you an edge in your long-term goals by finding the right company for you. When a company is accredited, it provides a license to the company to register domains on your behalf while you rent from them. Yes, you read that right — rent. No one truly owns a domain and as a domain renter, the registrant, you are granted the right to use a domain by paying a subscription fee to maintain the name on a yearly, or multi-year basis. This of course also depends on the extension you choose and the stipulations that come with it. With that said, some providers will allow you to pay for hosting services which will include a domain name while you pay a monthly cost, however, the domain names will always be registered yearly, but we will cover hosting in another article, too. In your research, you'll likely find that providers that advertise hosting services are primarily just that, a hosting provider and not a registrar themselves. In these cases, the provider is likely a domain reseller. What happens if you fail to pay your renewal fees? Well, you can probably guess what happens next, "your" domains are now no longer yours, so read on.
How to Choose a Registrar
After you do your branding research and start looking for a domain to register, you will want to first search for the right company for your intention. The company research is almost as vital for you, or your business, as choosing the right name, since they're the provider you're paying to handle it for you.
Choosing a domain registrar could be similar to choosing which apartment you choose to live in. Much in the same way as apartments, registrars have their shapes and sizes, and their costs for amenities with them. Now we won't go any further into details about domain names and extensions this time, but it is good background information to help with your choice – or choices.
Domain registrars tend to have some higher costs for their domain registrations in comparison to their reseller counterparts, much like you will find for other service providers for cable, phone, or internet. Choosing between the registrar and a reseller isn't always an easy task unless you know what to look for and, of course, it depends on what you need.
The good thing about registrars is you aren't stuck with who you choose, but it can become a headache to move your domain names from one registrar to another. With some extra planning and research, it may even prevent that from happening.
Before we dive into some registrar options, we'll list a few discussion points to think about and why you would: