What is a domain name, and how much does one cost? It’s a simple question, but the first half is easier to answer than the second. The domain name is whatever you decide to call your website, blog, or store. The cost, though, depends on several factors that we’ll look at soon.
Domain Name Vs. Website Address
Domain names and website addresses often confuse first-time site builders. The domain name is the unique part of the full web address or URL (see below). Your domain displays in text format so that it’s easy for humans to read and remember. Behind the name, though, is a numeric label or IP (Internet Protocol) address.
The IP consists of four groups of numbers separated by dots. Humans could never remember websites by their numbers, so we use letters instead. Computers understand numbers, and we recognise names. That’s why there’s a need to translate an IP into readable text.
Parts of a domain name
Below are the four parts of a complete web address or Uniform Resource Locator (URL) used. It’s not something a new webmaster needs to recognise, but it’s worth knowing all the same:
The hierarchy of the Domain Name System or DNS from left to right:
- Protocol (hypertext transfer)
- Subdomain or www
- Unique domain name or Second-level Domain (SLD)
Top-level Domain or TLD is the last part of a URL
How to Choose the Perfect Domain Name
The registration process is simple, but be mindful as you create a new domain name. It should make as much sense to your visitors as it does to you. The extension also needs to fit the content of your site, so be careful with niche TLDs. Also, keep the name as short, readable, and as memorable as possible. Lastly, consider WHOIS privacy if that’s important to you.
See: How to Choose the Best Domain Name for more tips.
The Price of Domain Names?
There’s no fixed cost for registering domains. Registrars provide similar services and charge comparable prices, though some have seasonal sales.
The table below shows average prices of popular generic and country-specific public TLDs:
COUNTRY CODE TLDs
Approx. Cost Per Year
Approx. Cost Per Year
Why Do Domain Name Costs Vary?
The difference in domain prices is enough to confuse any first-time website builder. That’s understandable as costs can vary from only a few pounds up to thousands. Also, some extensions (TLDs) are in more demand than others, which also influences price.
The way to understand this is to break down the supply chain.
- The public buys domains from a domain name retailer called a registrar
- Registrars reserve domains through a domain wholesaler or registry
- Registries (wholesalers) sets the price they charge registrars (retailers)
- Registrars add a bit on top so they can make a profit from users
This pricing system is no different from buying items from bricks and mortar stores.
Fixed Price Domains
Registrars set prices for available domains, but they vary depending on the TLD. Most companies display lists of TLD starting prices like the table above. However, they may charge different amounts for the initial purchase price or renewals. There are also packages to consider. That could include add-ons like WordPress hosting and SSL security technology.
Premium Domain Names
Premium domains are the most expensive to register on the market. Someone owns them, but they want to sell, usually at an inflated price. We call people who snap up expired domains, domain investors or domainers. Most premium ones have been registered for several years. The previous owner either closed the site of forgot to renew it for whatever reason.
The new owner can redirect these high-value domains or park them. You may have come across this when doing an online search for something. The website has gone, but there’s a message to say the domain is for sale and open to offers. The more attractive the name, the higher its asking price. It’s down to the simple law of supply and demand.
Buying premium domains from registrars
Premium domains show up in a list of alternative names when searching a registrar site. Let’s use a search for andy.com as an example. It’s no surprise that it’s already taken. But a good domain registrar can track the owner down and negotiate a price on your behalf.
Maybe the domain you want is not for sale, or the asking price is too high. But the domain broker option is there should you wish to exploit it. Agent fees for this service tend to be around 20%.
The search for andy.com also came back with 20 premium alternatives with niche TLDs. Again, the extension needs to make sense to your site’s theme, products, services, or branding.
Here are five premium alternatives for andy.com and their estimated prices:
Below are eight popular online market places to search and bid for premium domains:
#1 Domain registrar scams
Learn about common scams. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous registrars try to cheat using misleading information. They offer dirt cheap or even free domains to bait unsuspected shoppers. A common trick is to then hit the new customer with painfully high administration and or renewal fees. It’s an easy trap to avoid by registering your new domain with a reputable seller.
#2 Be cautious of discounts
Everyone likes a bargain but always read the small print. The discount will be genuine if it’s from a reputable registrar but at a price. To get a highly-discounted domain or package may require a long-term contract commitment. Either that or you must pay for X amount of years upfront. These deals can offer reasonable savings, but not everyone wants to commit.
#3 Hidden registrar fees
Few like to read through those lengthy terms of service (TOS). Still, they may hide hidden fees that you’d sooner not pay. Most of the important ones should be visible on the site—somewhere. Make sure you ask what the domain renewal and transfer fees are if they’re not visible. There can be other concealed costs, but renewal and transfers are the ones to look out for.
Renewal fees can be considerably higher with some ICANN registered domains. The exception here is with premium domains, of course.
Your domain name matters just like the name of any person, thing, or business. The best ones are super-easy to remember and type into a browser. They’re simple, catchy, and relevant. Your name should tick all the boxes. You may have to be creative and compromise a little, but never rush to the checkout. That’s unless you find your perfect domain on the first search.
Your website name is your unique identity on the World Wide Web, but it doesn’t stop there. It’s also your contact email. If you plan to use printed media, you’ll want to add both to that as well. Lastly, first impressions matter, so choose your TLDs with the same care as the name.