How to buy a domain name

We get lots of emails asking "how to buy domain names" - seriously we do! For many the whole "domain - website - dns and hosting" process is bewildering and very very confusing. So we thought we'd give you a quick run down on how to buy a domain name - just the name itself (forget the other stages we can cover those later on).

How to buy a domain name

Generally speaking, first you will need to think about why you are buying a domain in the first place. Is it for a reason (Boss asked you to), for a specific role (your own email address), because all your mates are? This will then help you to buy a domain name that is 'fit for purpose'. Otherwise, without a bit of thought upfront, you may find your future plans are only held up as you have to unpick the mess you have created by having a completely unsuitable domain name.

What is a domain name?

In simple terms, a domain name is just characters and letters put together that surfers then type in (or find on Bing or Google in the search results) to see your website. Although you can use up to 63 characters, when it's time to buy your domain name you should be aiming to keep it short, making it memorable and if possible including a keyword that relates to your website topic within the domain name itself. This all makes it easier for consumers to remember and to type! This makes a big difference in how many consumers/users will return to your site on a regular basis.

When thinking about buying a domain name you may also want to think about a name that is easy to remember that also comes with a twist (as most keyword/keyphrase combinations are all but taken now - think or - not exactly common words - but they are now! Keep in mind that hyphens may not always be included when a user types the domain, and also when you are spelling out over the phone. This would end up in you directing your users to a competitor or non-existent website.

If you have a few domains in mind, try checking them out online to see if they are free. It is easiest and safest to check the availability of domain names using Nominet's own checker (click here) top of the right hand column! If they are free, then why not run them past some of your good friends (one's that you trust 'cos you don't want them registering the domain if they think it's good too!).

Once you have found the right domain name(s) for you, you will need to go to an accredited domain name registrar or agent to actually buy domain name (for example or The process is simple to follow and easy to complete. You then 'own' the domain (whether it's a or .com or .net) in so much as you are given first refusal every year or two years to renew that domain. Prices for yearly ownership range from around £3 to £9 per year.