There is a massive number of services online that offer domain registration (think tens of thousands, not hundreds). You can register domains through a top-level registrar or through a domain reseller. You can also register domains through website hosting companies and blogging platforms such as WordPress.com.
With so many different places available to register domains you may be wondering whether it matters which service you use to register your domain name.
The short answer to that question is “Yes, it does”, however I would like to expand upon this in this article and explain to you why it matters where you register your domain names.
The cost of domain names and additional features such as privacy varies greatly.
Generally speaking, you should be aiming to pay between $8 and $15 per year for your domains, however it is important to look at the complete picture and see exactly what is included when you register a domain.
Features such as email forwarding are normally provided free of charge, but some companies charge an additional fee for it. Other features, such as domain privacy, normally costs around ten dollars, however Hover includes the feature as standard with their $15 registration fee. Therefore, at first glance Hover's pricing seems high, but the total cost of registering a domain with privacy is cheaper than most competitors.
Look at what features you need and what features you do not and then make an informed decision. Please also check that there are no hidden “Admin fees” for transferring the domain to a different domain registrar. This is a tactic that many website hosting companies use in order to retain customers.
A large number of domain companies offer huge discounts to for the first year of domain registration. The cost of renewing the domain is normally much higher than the initial registration cost.
Take NameCheap, for example. They have an offer in which the first year of registration for less popular domain extensions is only $0.88. To many new website owners, this seems like a bargain, but it is simply a ploy to get you to register your domains with them. After you have owned the domain for one year the cost of keeping the domain jumps significantly. A .website domain goes up to $19.88 per year, a .online domain goes up to $32.88 per year, and a .tech domain shoots up to a whopping $45.88 per year.
You can save money by taking advantage of discounts and special offers, but in the long-term it is better to find a good reliable domain name company where you can manage all of your domains.
Good customer support is vital if you are new to registering and managing domain names. In addition to good documentation and video tutorials, you need a support team that will help you manage your domain and configure it correctly. Experienced domain owners will need support from time to time too.
Customer support can be a difficult thing to compare when looking at domain registration companies as there are good and bad reviews of every service. The overall quality of a company is subjective. No company can provide perfect support 100% of the time so there will always be people who are unhappy.
Let us consider a company who has been known to deliver high quality support.
Disgruntled customers who received bad support tend to be more vocal about how bad their experience was. Therefore, one bad review from a customer may give the impression to many people that the service is bad, despite the company delivering great support to most customers.
On the flip side, customers who have not had to rely on support may have a high opinion of a company and tell others the service is great. This is common in the hosting industry where customers will praise a service until an incident occurs and they then move their website elsewhere.
My point is that it is important to look at reviews of domain companies before you start using them, however you will only see how good customer support really is when you use them yourself.
One thing you can do is email a domain registration company with a list of questions you have before you use them. The company's response time and the quality of their reply is by no means a guarantee that you will receive the same standard of service in future, however I believe it is a good indicator.
Remember that there are many domain registrars available online. If you are not happy with the customer service you are receiving, transfer the domain name elsewhere.
It is important that you have full control of your domain name. Unfortunately, many services do not give you complete control of the domain name you purchased.
In my article “Make Sure You Always Control Your Domain Names” I explain how many website hosting companies use their own contact information for your domain name. This means you do not technically own the domain.
I encourage you to read the article so that you have a full understanding of the problems that can arise.
Unfortunately, there are a lot scare stories online about people losing their domain names. Many of these incidents were caused by poor security measures by the domain registration company.
For example, people have lost their domains because of hackers phoning the domain company and asking for the account information to be reset and sent to a different email address. This has allowed the hacker to gain access to the account and transfer the domain away. Retrieving the domain name from an incident such as this can be difficult.
Take advantage of additional security features a domain registration company offers. Enom, for example, allows you to add account locking so that a password needs to be entered before any changes are made to a domain. Two-step authentication measures such as this can be very effective in ensuring your domain name does not get stolen.
Do not take security for granted. Your domain name is your website identity and your whole business is connected to it so you need to protect it.
A good user-interface should not be a top priority, but it is something to take into consideration.
Every domain registration company uses a different user-interface. You will find the experience of registering and managing domains better with some companies than others.
I always hated GoDaddy's interface because there are pages upon pages of additional offers thrown at you during the checkout stage. It's like buying a flight with a budget airline. Managing domains through GoDaddy is a bit clunky and over complicated too.
There are others who love GoDaddy's interface so it really comes down to your own personal preference. I recommend trying another domain registrar if your current registrar is a pain to use.
There are many things to consider when choosing a domain registration company.
The first thing that most new website owners look at is cost. Pricing is always a factor when you buy something online, but do not let it heavily influence your final decision about where you register a domain.
Customer support and domain security are more important in the long-term, particularly in the beginning. You need to know you have good support when you need it and you need to know your domain registration company does not have poor security measures. I therefore do not recommend registering with a cheap domain registration service just to save a couple of dollars.
Experienced domain traders who manage hundreds of domain names will obviously place pricing higher in their agenda as saving a couple of dollars per domain could save their company thousands of dollars per year. They can do this as they have years of experience of buying and trading domains.
My advice is to do some research before you buy a domain from a company so that you can make an informed decision.
Please remember that if you are not happy with where your domains are registered, you can transfer them elsewhere at any time.