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How to buy a domain name (+ tips if it’s taken)

How to buy a domain name

Imagine starting a blog or creating a website, but failing to make an impact because no one can find you online. This is where the importance of a domain name comes in. A domain name serves as your online address, making it easier for people to discover your website among the vast expanse of the internet.

In this article, we'll guide you through the entire process of buying a domain name. We'll cover everything from choosing a memorable and effective domain name to navigating various domain registrars and things to consider before making a purchase. By the end, you'll have all the information you need to confidently buy a domain name that sets you up for online success.

What is a domain name?

A domain name is your website's unique address on the internet, similar to a business's physical address. It's what users type into their browser to find your site. Typically, it has two parts: the name and the extension (or top-level domain, TLD). For example, in the URL "", "example" is the name and ".com" is the extension.

What is a domain name

How to buy a domain name in 5 steps

01. Choose a reliable domain registrar

A domain registrar is a company that manages the registration of domain names on behalf of individuals or businesses. While the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) manages all domains worldwide, a registrar deals with ICANN on your behalf.

When choosing among the best domain registrars, consider these factors:

  • Pricing: Compare the costs of different registrars, including the initial registration fee, renewal rates and any additional charges for services such as domain privacy protection.

  • Customer support: Opt for a registrar that offers robust customer support, including various means of contact like live chat, email or phone and ensure their availability matches your needs.

  • Management tools: Look for registrars that provide a comprehensive suite of domain management tools, including easy DNS management, transfer locks and bulk editing capabilities.

  • Add-ons: Some registrars offer additional services, such as email hosting, SSL certificates and website building tools, which can be convenient if you want to manage everything in one place.

  • Transfer policies: Check the registrar’s policy for transferring your domain to another registrar. Ensure it’s straightforward and doesn’t come with excessive costs or delays.

  • Security features: Choose a registrar that provides website security features like two-factor authentication, domain locking and professional monitoring to protect your domain from unauthorized transfers or attacks.

  • Registration period: Determine how long you can register your domain name for. Some may provide discounts for longer registration periods, while others might automatically renew your domain annually.

Setting up a domain on Wix

02. Brainstorm your domain name

Your domain name is a crucial aspect of your online presence and it's essential to choose one that aligns with your brand, is easy to remember and resonates with your target audience. 

Consider these tips when choosing a domain name:

  • Make it relevant: Your domain name should reflect your brand and what you do. Avoid using vague or misleading names that may confuse visitors.

  • Keep it short and simple: A shorter name is easier to remember, type and share. It also reduces the risk of spelling errors.

  • Include keywords: Consider incorporating relevant keywords in your domain name to improve search engine optimization (SEO).

  • Avoid numbers and hyphens: These can make a domain name harder to remember, appear spammy and increase the chances of typos.

  • Use a domain name generator: If you're struggling to come up with ideas, this tool can spark creativity based on your inputted keywords and preferences, helping you find a name that fits your brand and is available for registration.

Wix domain name generator

Domain extensions

There is a vast array of domain extensions available, each serving different purposes and audiences. Choosing the right domain extension can enhance credibility and relevance, making it easier for users to identify the nature of your website at a glance.

Here are most common types of domains available:

  • Generic top-level domain (gTLD):  These are the most common and include extensions such as .org, .com and .net. They can be used for virtually any website.

  • Country code top-level domain (ccTLD):  These are specific to a country or geographical region, such as .nl for the Netherlands and .ca for Canada.

  • Sponsored top-level domain (sTLD): Designed for specific entities.  For example, .edu for educational institutions and .gov for government organizations.

  • New top-level domain (ngTLD): These are more specific gTLDs that cater to various industries or interests, such as .biz for businesses and .photography for photographers.

For more in-depth examples, check out the most popular domain extensions.

03. Check domain name availability

Once you've narrowed down a few potential domain names, it's time to check their availability. You'll want to ensure the name you choose is not already registered by another individual or business. Use a domain name search tool where you can enter your desired domain name and see if it’s available.  If your desired name is unavailable, the tool will come up with additional ideas.

Generic top level domains

04. Purchase and register your domain name

Once you've confirmed the availability of your desired domain name, it's time to purchase and register it through your chosen registrar. The process usually involves creating an account, entering your contact and payment information and choosing a registration period.

Be sure to double-check all the details before finalizing the purchase. Once completed, you'll officially own the rights to your new domain name.

Here’s how to register a domain name with Wix:

  • Visit the domain registrar.

  • Enter your desired domain name and click Search.

  • If the name is available, click Get It to continue. If not, explore additional suggestions or enter a different option in the search bar. Once you find a suitable domain name, click Get It.

  • Choose whether to register for one, two or three years. Longer registration periods save you more money annually. After making your selection, click Continue and proceed to checkout.

  • Connect the domain name to your site and share it with your intended audience, whether it's friends, family or a specific online community.

05. Protect your domain name

Once you've registered your domain, it's crucial to protect it from potential threats.  Your registrar may offer additional services, such as domain locking and professional monitoring, to ensure your domain is secure. It's also essential to regularly review and update your contact information to avoid losing ownership of your domain due to expired or incorrect details.

Consider implementing the following measures:

  • Domain privacy protection: This feature keeps your personal information hidden from the WHOIS public databases, reducing the risk of identity theft and unsolicited emails.

  • Keep contact information up-to-date: Ensure your registrar has your current email address on file so they can reach out regarding any issues or important updates.

  • Renew before domain expiration: Set reminders or enable auto-renewal to avoid accidentally letting your domain registration expire. Losing ownership of a domain can be costly to retrieve and damage your online presence.

How to buy a domain name that is already owned

There may be instances where you want to purchase a domain name that is already registered by someone else. In such cases, you can try reaching out to the current owner and negotiating a price for them to transfer ownership of the domain to you.

It's important to note that purchasing a registered domain may be more expensive than registering a new one. However, it can be worth it if the domain name aligns with your brand and has established traffic or revenue potential.  It's also essential to ensure all legal aspects of the transaction are covered to avoid any disputes in the future.

Here are the steps to complete a purchase:

01. Discover the current use of the domain

Before reaching out to the current owner, it's essential to understand how they are using your desired domain. This can give you an idea of its value and potential for your own website. You can check this by entering the domain name into a browser and seeing what appears.

If the domain is connected to an active website, the owner might not want to sell it. The best chance to secure a web address is when it points to a placeholder site on a parked domain. Domain flipping is common, with resellers often buying parked domains to resell them for profit. These sellers are generally easier to negotiate with as they're not attached to the domain.

02. Determine a fair price

Before making an offer, research the domain's market value to avoid overpaying. Consider the following factors:

  • Domain history: Older domains are usually more valuable as they have higher credibility and may rank better on search engines.

  • Relevance and popularity: Short, specific and memorable names tend to be worth more than longer or obscure ones.

  • Traffic and revenue potential: If a website is generating significant traffic or profit, it will likely have a higher price tag.

03. Contact the domain owner

You can find the contact information of a domain owner through the WHOIS database, which contains public records of registered domain names. The owner may also have provided their contact details on their website or social media profiles. Once you have the contact information, reach out with a polite and professional email expressing your interest in purchasing the domain. Another option is to use a domain broker to facilitate the purchase on your behalf.

04. Complete the sale using escrow services

To ensure a safe and secure transaction, consider using an escrow service to facilitate the sale. This service verifies your payment and ensures the seller transfers the domain before releasing funds, protecting both the buyer and seller from potential scams or issues.

05. Complete the transfer of ownership

Once the purchase is complete, the current owner will initiate a process called domain transfer. This involves releasing the domain from their account and providing you with authorization codes or access credentials. Once you have these details, you can proceed with registering the domain through your chosen registrar to officially own and manage your new web address.

How much does a domain name cost?

While you can get a free domain, buying one might be a better choice. Free domains include the registrar's prefix, making them suitable for temporary sites or initial online presence. However, to make your website stand out professionally and grow with your brand, invest in a domain name.

The domain price with Wix differs depending on a number of factors, including:

  • The type of domain extension

  • Your local currency

  • The number of years selected

  • Adding privacy protection

  • The use of a domain voucher

  • Your local tax or VAT laws

All Wix paid plans come with a domain for one year, which otherwise cost between $14 and $39 a month. After a year, you can renew your domain for pricing plans anywhere between $13.95 and $15.95 a year. You can read more about domain name costs in detail, to understand what’s right for you and your business.

All prices are accurate as of June 4, 2024.

.com domain extension

More on how to manage your domain

How to buy a domain name FAQ

What do I do once I have bought my domain name?

Once you have successfully purchased your domain name, you will need to connect it to a hosting website. This involves setting up DNS records and pointing your domain to the correct web server. Your chosen registrar should provide instructions on how to do this or you can seek help from a web developer or technical support team.

How soon can I use a domain name?  

Can I change my domain name after purchasing?

Is there a limit on how many domains I can buy?

Does the country I live in affect my domain name?

Can I buy a domain name without hosting?

How can I buy a domain name permanently? 

When should I buy a domain name? 

Can I transfer my domain name? 

Can I buy a domain name from a web host? 

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