Costs involved in having an online presence include the development of the website itself, purchasing a domain name, and web hosting.
It can be confusing at first to understand the difference between domain names and web hosting, and why both are needed, so let’s look at these in detail. We already addessed the web site itself in How Much Does a Website Cost? Let’s look now at domain names.
What is a Domain Name?
Domain names represent a unique address, such as www.umpquawebdesign.com. I like to think of a domain name as being like the address on your house. There is only one house with that number on that street in that town. The mailman has to have that unique address to find your home. The domain name is similar; it tells the servers where to find your website.
Domain names have suffixes and we’re seeing more variety as time goes on. The most common is .com, but there are others: .net, .org, .gov, .biz, etc. Since most people automatically assume all websites end in .com, your first choice would logically be .com.
Choosing a Domain Name
Choose a domain name that best describes your business or product. It appears that search engines prefer domains with keywords in them, so brainstorm 5-6 keywords and try different combinations of those words.
In addition, you will want to make your domain name unique, easy to spell, easy to remember, and avoid long names – people won’t want to do a lot of typing. I would also recommend not trying to be cutesy by misspelling a word or using 4 instead of for, for instance. It may be clever, but it’s hard for people to remember. If they can remember your name, they’re more likely to come back to your site over and over again.
Before settling on a name, find out if the name has been taken. There are several places to check this. Some examples are: register.com, namecheap.com, pcnames.com, and hosting companies, such as godaddy.com and networksolutions.com.
Registering a Domain Name
Your domain name can be registered at the same place that hosts your site, but it doesn’t have to be. The hosting company may offer a free or reduced price on the domain name if you purchase hosting with them, so you will want to check your options.
Cost of a Domain Name
Domain names are fairly inexpensive, somewhere in the neighborhood of $10-$15 per year. Some registrars charge more than others, some suffixes are more expensive than others, and some registrars, as already mentioned, offer free domain names with a plan.