Getting your own domain name allows you to publish your site on the Web using an address similar to http://www.yourdomain.com/, rather than as http://www.anotherdomain.com/yourfolder/ or http://youralias.anotherdomain.com/. Anyone trying to establish a business presence on the Web will want to get their own domain name. Even personal users may want their own domain name, if only to establish their own unique identity on the Web. Getting your own domain name can also make it easier to change your Web host later, since you only need to transfer hosting of your domain name to your new host. You can also establish a permanent e-mail address under your domain, firstname.lastname@example.org, for instance, which you can take with you if you move to a new Web host. Registering a domain name is also not expensive, costing at most $35 a year; if you shop around, you can find even cheaper deals than that.
Before you can choose a domain name, you need to know if it has already been registered by someone else. You can use Network Solution's search form to search to see if a domain name you want is available or not. Just go to www.networksolutions.com/ and use their search form to search for available domain names, not only with .com, .net, and .org extensions, but also with .biz, .info, .us, .cc, .bz, and .tv extensions. If the exact domain name that you want is unavailable, Network Solutions suggests other similar domain names that are available. You can also play around with inserting hyphens, for instance, to come up with a close variant of your preferred domain name. Take the time to think through what kind of domain names are best for you and to find out which ones are available that work for you. If you're not going to be registering your domain name right away, you might want to come up with two or three variants that work for you, just in case your top choice isn't available later.
If you do find that the one perfect domain name for you is still available and you're afraid that it'll be grabbed from under your nose before you get around to registering it, you should try to register it as quickly as possible. You can register it through Network Solutions for $70 for two years, or you can shop around to see if you can find a domain registrar offering a lower cost (see the next section, "Registering a Domain Name," for information on finding a domain name registrar).
If you've already decided on the Web hosting service you want to use, sign up for your account right away and ask them to register your domain. You can also go ahead and register your domain name yourself right away, either through Network Solutions or another domain name registrar. Don't make an instant decision, however, unless you're certain it's right— once you've bought it, you've got it (at least for a year, anyway).
FIND IT ONLINE
Another option, especially if you're trying to establish a business presence on the Web, is to go through a domain name broker to find a domain name. Domain brokers sell domain names that have already been registered. The more desirable the domain name, of course, the higher the price. They even hold auctions where you can bid on a domain name. To find out more about domain name brokers, see About Domains at www.aboutdomains.com/.
If you're creating a business site or just want to establish your own unique identity on the Web, you'll want to look into registering your own domain name. There are several ways of going about doing this:
The most trouble-free way of registering your domain name is to sign up with a Web hosting service and then have them register your domain name for you. This, however, might not be the cheapest way to do this; you'll probably have to pay the top price, which is $35 a year.
The cheapest way of registering your domain name is to shop around to find the domain name registrar that is offering the best deal. You can find domain name registrars, for instance, that will register your domain name for you for as little as $10 a year. For listings of domain registrars, see www.dnresources.com/registration.html. This, however, might not be the most trouble-free way of doing this; if you decide to have someone else host your pages, you'll either have to forward your domain to your new address or go through the hassle of transferring your domain name to your new host. The latter can cause a delay in getting your Web site up and running under your domain name. Generally, your best option is to have the company that hosts your Web pages also host your domain name (the domain name servers for your domain). Most providers of free Web space, however, do not let you directly register a domain name for your site through them. Many domain registrars let you use domain forwarding or domain cloaking, to forward traffic for any domain name to the address of any Web site you specify.
Domain forwarding sends traffic from a domain name (http://www.yourdomain.com/) to a Web site address (http://www.yourfreesite.com/yourname/). After the forward, the second address is displayed in the browser's address bar.
Domain cloaking is a form of domain forwarding, but the domain name address is displayed in the browser's address bar, while the target address to which the domain is being forwarded is hidden from view (or cloaked).
Note that search engine robots will not generally index a Web page using a forwarded domain name (you need to register the actual page address).They will, however, usually register a Web page reached through a cloaked domain.
So, which way is right for you? That depends. If saving $20 a year is not important to you, you should probably make selecting the right Web host for your pages your top priority, and then have them register your domain name for you. If your Web host goes through Network Solutions to register your domain name, you'll be billed separately by them at $35 a year (or $70 for two years). This will be over and above whatever your Web host is charging to host your pages and any setup fee they might charge for setting up and maintaining your domain. If they go through a different registrar to register your domain, the cost might be less.
On the other hand, if you're not planning on selecting a Web host for your pages for a while and you're worried that others might first grab the domain names you might want, or if you just want to save money, you might look for the best domain name registration deal you can find right away. You can then park your domain name with them until you've decided on which Web host service you're going to use.
For links to many domain registration resources, see the Domain Name Resource Directory at www.dnresources.com/. You can also check out Yahoo's directory for domain name registration at dir.yahoo.com/Computers_and_Internet/Internet/Domain_Name_Registration/.