How do you register a domain name? Some Practical Advice from a Pro.

This may seem like a simple question with a simple answer, How to Register a Domain Name, but it never ceases to amaze me how many business owners, marketers and developers do not know the fundamentals of domain registration.  This is a very simple but extremely important step in the development of a successful web site.  I hope this helps you detertim some key things to look for in a domain registrar, and key peices that need to be in place to maintain ownership of your domain.

The first step of course is finding the right domain or domains for your web presence.  Yes you can have multiple domains pointing to the same web site.  I have several customers with 10 or more domains pointing to their web site.  Your web hosting provider should be able to accomidate this for you, some charge a nominal fee for this service.  Finding the best domain may be a challenge for the most creative, so I will leave that topic for another post.

After you have figured out what domain you would like to register, you should find a trustworthy domain registrar.  This can be harder than you think.  THERE ARE MANY SHADY domain registrars in the world.  I have a reseller account with OPENSRS.com.  I like them because they are honest and offer great customer service and reasonably priced SSL keys. 

Here are some things to think about when you are choosing your domain registrar.  ICANN certifies each registrar and has several requirements in place before a company can begin registering domains.  First is a $100,000 registration fee.  Next is infrastructure and service requirements, when I evaluated the costs associated with these it was easily another $200,000 plus per year to maintain even the slightest operation.  Next the direct costs for a domain is around $7 per year.  Some extensions are more expensive, like .tv.  You may be think, they keep their cost low on volume.  I think this is a falicy because there are only about 30 million registered .coms, 7 million .net and it gets significantly lower for the other extensions.  There are probably 100 ICANN accredited domain registrars today.  You can quickly do the math and determine the volume theory vaproizes as fast as the downline for a multi-level marketeer.

Now you should also figure the customer acquisistion costs for a domain registrar.  Remember a domain name costs the consumer typically $10-30 per year.  Pay Per Click advertising for domain registration costs between $5-40 per click or visitor.  Even with a 10% conversion rate this costs between $50-400 per new customer for a product that cost the company $10-20 to purchase wholesale.  You can calculate the long term customer value and the potential upsell for hosting services many registrars offer.  I think this is pretty short sided because most of these comapnies again offer hosting well below their cost too.  Domain registration customers are not typically long term loyal customers either.  Many burn out on the internet within a year or two.

I wanted to get you to think about this because some domain registration companies offer registration for as little as $1.99 per year.  You need to ask yourself where are they making money reistering domain names?

Now that you have chosen your domain registrar, you need to make sure you register your domain(s) in your name.  About five years ago I heard a tragic story about a large radio station here in the Raleigh market.  They let their web design firm register the domain for their call letters.  The web design firm was a little shady and wrote the contract with the radio station so that the station lased the use of the domain from the design firm.  This was bad because two years later the station hired a new marketing company and could not get their domain name for their new site.

This situation happens more often than you think.  Often times it is not done with malicious intent, but rather laziness on the part of the registering party.  Recently I completed work on a new site for a client.  Their previous hosting company registered their domain for my client, int he name of the hosting company.  This is a quick sign their may be other issue with this web host.  It has been six weeks since my client began the process of trying to get their domain not only transfered to point to the new site I built, but in their name. 

Building a web site is a lot like building a new house.  When you go to closing you do not let the real estate attorney put the deed to the land in their name.  DO NOT LET ANYONE ELSE PUT THEIR NAME AS THE OWNER OF YOUR DOMAIN!

These are some simple rulesand guidelines to consider when chossing a domain registrar and registering your domains for your web site.  I hope this helps you out.

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