Do you want to start a blog or a new online business in 2023? If you do, then you’ll need to register a domain name.
The first step towards building a website is to find a good domain name and register it.
In this article, we will show you how to register a domain name step-by-step. We will also share tips on how you can register a domain name for free.
Since this is a comprehensive guide on how to register a domain name, we have created a table of contents so you can easily skip to the section that you’ are most interested in:
- What Is a Domain Name?
- When Do You Need to Register a Domain Name?
- How to Choose the Best Domain Name
- How to Register a Domain Name for Free with Bluehost
- How to Register a Domain Name with Domain.com (25% Off)
- How to Register a Domain Name with Hostinger (Free)
- How to Register a Domain Name with Network Solution
- How to Register a Domain Name with GoDaddy
- Domain Name Registration FAQs
Before we get started, let’s cover the basics so we are on the same page.
What Is a Domain Name?
A domain name is the address of your website that people type in the browser to visit your website. For example, wpbeginner.com.
In simple terms, if your website was a house, then your domain name would be its address.
The whole internet is a giant network of computers. Each computer is assigned a number, which is called an IP address, and it looks like this:
Now, this address is not easy to remember or memorize. Imagine if you had to use this kind of address to visit your favorite websites.
To fix this problem, domain names were invented.
Domain names can have letters and numbers, which helps business owners create brandable names for their website’s address. These custom domain names are important for building a strong online presence.
To learn more about domain names, see our beginner’s guide on domain names and how they work.
When Do You Need to Register a Domain Name?
According to the latest internet usage statistics, there are currently 370.7 million registered domain names in the world. 37.20% of registered domain names are top-level domains (TLDs).
On average, there are 33,000 new domain registrations every day.
This means that all the good domain names are being registered as we speak. Chances are that someone may register a domain name that you are thinking of, so it’s smart to register a domain name as soon as you think of an idea.
This is why all smart entrepreneurs proactively register domain names even before launching a business.
Domain names are cheap, and you can register them for a year. If you decide not to pursue the online business idea, then you can let the domain expire.
The bottom line is if you are serious about building a business, then you should register a domain name right away.
It will help you protect your brand’s identity, business name, and even future business ideas.
How Much Does a Domain Name Cost?
Normally, a .com domain name costs $14.99 / year. The cost of a domain varies based on each different extension or TLD (top-level domain). Some are even more expensive than this.
We don’t recommend using anything but .com domains because everybody remembers a .com domain, and your smartphone keyboards have a pre-built key for .com.
For more details, see our expert guide on how much a domain name costs, along with tips on how to avoid hidden fees.
Do I Need a Website to Register a Domain Name?
No, you do not need a website to register a domain name. You can register a domain name and make a website later. You can also register a domain name and set up a temporary website or coming soon page with SeedProd.
Many entrepreneurs treat domain names like digital real estate, so they register a good domain name and hold it for the right buyer to purchase it from them for profit.
How to Choose the Best Domain Name
Domain names play a very important role in your website’s identity and success. This is why it’s important for you to carefully think about the domain name you choose.
However, it’s also important to not overthink it. Otherwise, you will never get past the research phase.
Here are some general tips to keep in mind when searching for the perfect domain name:
- Make sure that your domain name is easy to pronounce, spell, and as short as possible.
- Stick with the .com extension because most users find it easier to remember than any other domain extensions like .biz, .us, etc.
- Use your keywords and brand name in the domain name search. For example, stargardeninghouston.com is more SEO-friendly than stargardeningcompany.com
- Do not use numbers or hyphens in your website domain. It makes them harder to pronounce and difficult to remember.
Need more advice? See our expert tips on finding the best domain name for your website.
You can also use a domain name generator like Nameboy to speed up your search for the right domain name.
If you’d prefer written instructions, then just keep reading.
How to Register a Domain Name (Step by Step)
You can register a domain name from any of the top domain registrars that are authorized by ICANN to register domain names.
Since there are so many different registrars, we will cover a few popular ways to register a domain name, and you can choose the one that best fits your needs.
1. How to Register a Domain Name for Free with Bluehost
Normally, there’s a registration fee of $14.99 / year for a domain name, and website hosting plans start from $7.99 / month. This is a lot of money if you are just starting out.
Luckily, Bluehost has agreed to offer our users a free domain name, SSL Certificate, and up to a 77% discount on web hosting services.
Basically, you can pay $2.75 per month for web hosting, and you will get a domain name for free, so you can start your website without a lot of money.
Bluehost is one of the biggest web hosting companies in the world. They have been in business since 2003 and host over 2 million websites. Not to mention, they are officially recommended by WordPress, and they offer great customer support.
To begin the registration process, you need to visit the Bluehost website and click on the ‘Get Started’ button.
This will bring you to the pricing page.
Their Basic and Plus plans are popular among our users.
Click on the ‘Select’ button below a plan to continue.
On the next page, you will be asked to choose a domain name. Simply type the domain name in the ‘New Domain’ box because that will get you a free domain name.
If the domain name you entered is available, you will be taken to the signup page. From here, you need to enter your account information like name, address, email, etc.
Below the account information, you will notice some hosting extras like domain privacy, which provides WHOIS privacy by hiding your info (name, address, email, phone number) from the public WHOIS database.
We don’t recommend buying them, so you can safely uncheck them for now. If you feel that you need them, then you can always add them later.
After that, you can enter your payment information to finish the purchase.
Bluehost will now register your domain name, set up your hosting account, and send you an email with a link to your hosting control panel.
Since you need both a domain name and web hosting to start any type of website, it makes a lot of sense to purchase them together so you can get the domain name for free.
If, for some reason, you don’t want to use Bluehost to get a free domain name, then you can use Hostinger, HostGator, DreamHost, or GreenGeeks. All of these companies are also offering our readers a free domain name with web hosting.
Related: See the difference between domain and web hosting to understand why you need both to build a website.
2. How to Register a Domain Name with Domain.com (25% Off)
If you only want to register a domain name at the moment without creating a website, then Domain.com is your best option.
It offers an easy way to manage your domain name without creating a website.
When you are ready, you can just point the domain name to your preferred WordPress hosting company by entering your hosting provider’s nameservers.
First, you need to visit the Domain.com website and search for your desired domain name.
Once you find an available domain name, then it will be automatically added to your cart.
You can adjust the registration period to 1 year. You can either choose to keep or remove the privacy protection. Removing it will reduce your domain registration cost.
Domain.com is offering WPBeginner readers a 25% discount, and our Domain.com coupon should be automatically applied.
Click on the ‘Continue’ button to check out.
On the checkout page, you can review your order and click on the ‘Proceed to billing’ button.
Next, you need will be asked to enter your account and payment information to finish the domain purchase.
Domain.com will now register your domain name, and it will send you an email with the link to your domain control panel.
3. How to Register a Domain Name with Hostinger (Free)
Hostinger is another well-known domain registrar and web hosting solution.
They offer a free domain name when you purchase any of their web hosting plans, which start as low as $2.69 per month with WPBeginner’s 81% off Hostinger coupon.
In addition to a free domain name, you’ll also get a free SSL certificate, a free business email address, and more.
This makes Hostinger a great alternative to Bluehost for creating a website and registering a free domain name.
To get started, you need to visit the Hostinger website and click on the ‘Start Now’ button.
This will bring you to the pricing page, where you need to choose the plan you want.
You can select the ’48 Months’ plan to get 78% off web hosting and a free domain name.
Next, you need to provide your email address to create your Hostinger account.
Alternatively, you can use Google or Facebook to add your account information.
After that, scroll down to select your payment method and enter your payment details.
Our Hostinger coupon should be automatically applied to get the best price available.
Once you’ve added your payment information, click on the ‘Submit Secure Payment’ button to complete your purchase.
Upon completing the transaction, you’ll be able to select your desired domain name during the hosting setup process:
Hostinger will walk you through the process of choosing a domain name, step by step. You can search right on their website for a domain name that’s available.
After your domain name is registered, you may receive an email to verify your registration.
If you missed the chance to claim your free domain name during the setup process, you can do it from your Hostinger dashboard as well.
4. How to Register a Domain Name with Network Solution
Network Solutions is one of the oldest names in the domain name business. They have been registering domain names since 1993 and, at that time, they were the only registrar for all common domain name extensions.
Today, they are one of the largest domain registrars, with over 7 million domains registered with them.
They offer domain name registrations with a much simpler control panel and easy tools to manage your domain names.
WPBeginner users can get a 25% discount on new domain names by using our Network Solutions Coupon.
Here is how to register a domain name with network solutions.
Fits, you need to visit the Network Solutions website. From here, you need to enter the domain name you wish to register in the search box.
If the domain name you are looking for is available, then it will be automatically added to your cart.
You’ll see a success message and continue to the checkout by clicking on the checkout button.
During the checkout, you’ll be asked to sign in if you are a returning customer.
Or you can continue as a Guest.
Next, you’ll be offered to turn on the domain privacy addon.
We recommend skipping it as of now and adding it later if you need.
After that, you will be offered to add other products to your cart as well.
Skip them by clicking on ‘Continue’ under the ‘Domain Only’ box.
Finally, you’ll be offered to enable domain protections such as premium DNS (Domain Name System) and malware protection add-ons.
You can skip them for now and add them later if needed.
Finally, you will reach the checkout page.
From here, you can redeem our Network Solutions coupon to claim your 25% discount and then make a purchase.
After that, you can continue to check out to make a payment and complete the domain registration.
5. How to Register a Domain Name with GoDaddy
Godaddy is the largest domain name registrar in the world. They currently manage over 77 million domain names for 18 million users worldwide.
They offer an easy domain control panel, which allows you to point your domain to any hosting provider when you are ready to build a website.
Here is how to register a domain name with GoDaddy (step by step).
First, you need to visit the GoDaddy website and enter the domain name you want to register in the search box.
If your domain name is available, then you will see a success message with your domain name listed on top.
You can now go ahead and add it to the cart.
Next, click on the ‘Continue to cart’ button to checkout.
GoDaddy will now show you some additional services that you can purchase with your domain name. You can skip those by selecting ‘No thanks’ and clicking on the ‘Continue’ button.
On the next page, you will see your domain name and its registration period. You can change the registration period to up to 10 years if you want.
However, we don’t recommend that. You can always renew your domain name before it expires, so if you want to save money, then you can select just 1 year registration period.
You will need to create a GoDaddy account to proceed.
After you have created an account, you will be able to enter your billing address and make a payment for your domain name.
GoDaddy will now register your domain name, and they will send you an email with a link to your domain control panel.
Pro Tip: You should make sure that auto-renew on your domain is turned on so Godaddy can automatically bill your account and renew your domain name. This way, you won’t lose your domain if you forget to renew it.
Related: See the best GoDaddy alternatives that are cheaper and more reliable.
Domain Name Registration FAQs
Since we have helped so many people start a website, we have gotten just about every question you can possibly think of. Below are the answers to some of the top domain name questions.
Which is the best domain name registrar?
We believe that Domain.com is the best registrar right now because they have the features you need, and they’re offering a 25% discount.
However, it’s a smarter money decision to get a free domain with web hosting like Bluehost because it saves you time and money.
Which domain extension should I buy?
You should always stick to .com domain names. They are the easiest to remember, and most mobile devices have a dedicated .com key in their keyboards. For more details, see our article on the difference between domain name extensions.
Should I register new domain name extensions?
Apart from the most common .com, .net, and .org (suitable for non-profits), there are dozens more domain name extensions available. However, these new domain extensions are hard to remember and difficult to brand. To learn more, see our article on choosing a new domain extension for your website.
How can I buy a domain name permanently?
You cannot buy a domain name permanently. Domain name registration is done on a yearly basis. However, you can pre-pay for up to 10 years, which guarantees that you will have a domain name for 10 years.
What happens to my domain name once its registration expires?
Unless you renew your domain name, it will automatically expire after the registration period you have paid for. Some domain name companies offer a grace period to renew your registration, but it is not guaranteed, and you can lose control of your domain name if you let it expire.
How do I renew my domain name?
You can renew your domain name from your domain control panel. We strongly recommend that you turn on the auto-renew feature to automatically renew your domain name. You can always turn it off if you decide not to keep a domain name.
Even though your domain registrar would remind you to renew your domain registration before it expires, you may miss those emails and lose control of your domain name.
How can I reserve a domain name without buying it?
There is no way to reserve a domain name without purchasing it. You have to buy it if you want to reserve it. Considering the low cost of a domain name, it’s a small investment for a business.
Can I buy a domain with .edu extension?
The .edu extension is managed by EduCause and can only be registered by accredited educational institutes.
Is there a way to buy an existing domain name?
Yes, you can use a brokerage like Sedo.com to potentially acquire an existing domain name. However, it’s not guaranteed that you will get the domain name that you want because the seller may not want to sell it or ask for an outrageous price.
You can also purchase premium domains from a premium domain broker like BuyDomains.
For more details, see ourexpert tips on how to buy a domain name that’s taken.
Also, if you are looking to find a way to contact an existing domain owner, see our tutorial on how to find out who actually owns a domain name.
Can someone steal my domain name?
Yes, domain name theft can be devastating for small business owners. This is why it’s important that you choose a well-known domain registrar with a good reputation.
The way hackers can steal your website name is by obtaining access to your domain registrar account. It’s important that you use a strong password and set up 2-factor authentication.
Furthermore, we always recommend small business owners use an identity theft protection service to get near-real-time alerts of identity fraud because domain theft and ransomware is generally a byproduct of another hack.
Can I buy a domain name anonymously?
No, you cannot buy a domain name anonymously due to ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) regulation, which requires the registrar to have your contact information. But you can most certainly keep your personal information anonymous from the general public.
You can also use a registered agent or someone else to register the domain on your behalf. For more details, see our guide on how to buy a domain name anonymously.
Which website builder gives a free domain?
However, these aren’t custom domain names. The website builder’s company name is included in the domain name, like mywebsite.wixsite.com, for example. This isn’t very professional and makes it difficult to use your website URL on social media and in advertising campaigns.
That’s why we recommend registering a custom domain name and building your website with Bluehost.
Do you have any other helpful domain name tips?
Yes, here are some other domain name tips that you’ll find helpful:
- What is a subdomain – full explanation along with a step-by-step guide on how you can create your subdomains.
- What’s the difference between domain name and web hosting – explained in plain English.
- Which domain extension should I choose? Here’s a comparison of .com vs. .net as well as our list of top domain extensions.
- How to get a free email domain (quick and easy methods).
- How to check domain name availability (easy search tools).
- How to move a WordPress to a new domain (without losing SEO).
We hope this article helped you learn how to register a domain name for your website. You may also want to see our tips on how to make money online with your new domain name and/or our expert picks of the best eCommerce platforms for creating an online store.