Registering Your Own Domain Name
If you don't yet have a domain name registered, selecting and registering a domain for your web site will be one of your first steps. By now, you'll likely find that most or all of your first-choice domain names are already registered. (See Choosing a Domain for advice and tips on selecting a good domain name.)
Finding A Domain
You can't check for the availability of domains by simply typing the domain into your browser to see if there's a web site there — the domain may not lead to an active web site, but it may still be registered. Domains may be registered by domain brokers, who buy up domains in hopes of selling them for a profit. Other domains may be registered for future use or may be used for e-mail accounts only. The easiest way to find a domain is to use a domain look-up service provided directly by a domain registrar, such as GoDaddy:
It may take a bit of searching and some creativity, but you'll eventually find an available domain that you want to use. Then what? How do you go about registering that domain and using it for your web site?
Where To Register A Domain
Always use a reputable ICANN-accredited domain registrar such as GoDaddy to register your domain. Many web hosting companies offer domain registration as part of their services, and sometimes they even include a "free" domain when you sign up for a hosting package with them. Do not register your domain through your hosting company!
Why? It's more trouble, after all, to go to a separate web site and go through a separate domain rgistration process. Why is this so important? Several reasons:
If you wish to allow your hosting company to register your domain for you, make sure that they will register the domain in your name and that you will have access to a domain management tool to set the nameservers, lock or unlock the domain, or transfer it away to a different registrar.
Do not fall for the trap of hosting companies that offer a free domain with your hosting! In my experience, they're usually the worst offenders with respect to registering your domain in their name and making it difficult or impossible for you change hosting companies later.
How To Register A Domain
Registering a domain is a simple process, and all you need is a credit card. Go to GoDaddy and register for a free account. Account registration is free, but you need the account so that GoDaddy will know who the domain belongs to. Be sure to include your current and correct contact information in your registration. In particular, use a reliable e-mail address that you plan to keep. Should there ever be a problem with your domain, your e-mail address is the first point of contact — if you can't receive e-mails about your domain from GoDaddy at that address, it's a long drawn-out process to prove you're the rightful domain owner.
After completing the account registration process, simply do a search for the domain you want, and if it's available, click the "register this domain" button or link. You'll be walked through a process where you can decide how long you want to register the domain for (we recommend 10 years), whether you want it set to auto-renew (we recommend yes), and several other options.
Setting the Nameservers
During the registration process, you will be asked to enter at least two "nameservers" that will be used to make sure your web site will be found. If you have already signed up for a hosting package with a webhost, they should have provided you with the nameservers to use. You should enter these at this step in the registration. If you do not yet have hosting, you can leave the default "parking" nameservers that the registrar suggests. After you sign up for web hosting, you'll need to come back and change the nameservers to those provided by the hosting company you choose.
When you reach the "checkout" stage, enter your credit card information, and finish the checkout process. Congratulations! You've just registered your domain!
You should make a note of your GoDaddy registration login and password. It's a good idea to add "@godaddy.com" as a "whitelisted" address in your spam filter, so that your domain renewal notices or any other official communications don't get filtered into your spambox. Also, if you ever change that e-mail address, remember to log into your GoDaddy account and change it in your registration information.