Buying a website name for your company can be a daunting process. As domain names (website names) are typically a springboard for other needs – such as hosting, SSL certificates, email services, search engine optimization services, and more – registrars (the industry term for companies selling website names) love bombarding customers with additional offers once customers attempt to checkout. The best example of this practice is the GoDaddy checkout pages which will often require users to sift through over three pages of offers while trying to purchase even just one domain name.
On the other hand, some companies choose to bundle their website name with a hosting package in exchange for a discount and/or the convenience of dealing with one company for both needs. While this idea might initially be attractive, the key pitfall with many of the “free” domain offers is that if you cancel the hosting plan or try moving to another emplacement, you will either have to pay a hefty fee to the host to transfer the name, or in some cases the domain will be held by the host for good. This issue comes up because when a web host offers a website name for free, typically the terms of service (i.e. the fine print) state that the client is essentially leasing the domain for the duration of their hosting account – meaning that the hosting company can do whatever they wish with the domain since they hold the name.
On the other hand, when purchasing a domain yourself, you pay a nominal flat rate for a year or more, if so desired, and the domain is property of the customer. While buying a domain on your own might be overwhelming, the key benefit is that you have full control over where your website is hosted, and you even have the ability to switch registrars as you see fit should the need ever arise. Additionally, buying domains through a separate registrar allows you to save money by shopping around for the best deal, and most importantly you have access to a wider selection of domains like the typical: .com, .net.org, and so on.
One of the biggest things today only a handful of registrars offer en masse is country code domains. Essentially these are domains which are picked due to being memorable and notable. While many vanity domains can be .com’s and other traditional endings, country level domains are emerging as one of the hot commodities today. Aside from being plentiful, so it’s easier to find a name; country domains also can be used to form unique names for your website.
For example, on Long Island, the domain ending “.li” has become popular with many businesses – although the domain ending is actually the official domain of Liechtenstein. Other notable country endings are: .Co (Columbia), .ly (Lybia), .it (Italy), .Tv (Tuvalu), and many others which are too plentiful to list.
If you haven’t seen these domains offered by your current registrar or web host, you aren’t alone, because due to the various prices of country domains, and technicalities, many registrars only focus on the most common domains which customers will recognize and purchase. Although it might seem that having a country type domain is worse than a .com (or similar) for your website – you are wrong as Google and other search engines no longer base their rankings just on the type of domain ending. Today, many successful websites are built around country level domains, or they incorporate them in varying degrees of their normal operations. Google even embraces country domains with their URL shortener located at Goo.gl (.gl is the ending of Greenland).
Although there are many places to buy domains and related internet services, when it comes to purchasing vanity domains for myself or clients – especially international country domains – I always use Gandi.net as they offer over 90 domain types (and they specify the country name next to each ending), they do not bombard you with useless offers when trying to check out, and their prices are very reasonable. Just a heads up – while .com’s and such typically sell for around $10/year, country domains can set you back from as little as $25/year to as much as $100/year due to the countries being able to set pricing of their domains.
When it comes to my .com’s and more traditional names, NameCheap is my favorite because aside from not bombarding you with useless offers and products, their pricing is more than reasonable. From private domain registration just costing an extra $1.58/year, a wide selection of affordable eCommerce grade SSL Certificates, and great customer support; Namecheap is my choice for my non-exotic domain needs.