How to Choose the Right Domain

Domain names were invented to make any web resource easier to remember, find, and access. This is the most important factor to consider when choosing which domains to purchase.

Domains for websites are by far the most common. Your site’s domain is the name people use to find your site. So it is important that you choose the right domain the first time because changing it can be disastrous to your website’s search engine rankings and subsequently, your business.

Deciding which domains to buy can be daunting, but follow our useful advice below to make an informed decision.

The first step to your online journey begins here.
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factors to consider when choosing a domain name

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registered trademarks

First and foremost, make sure the name you have in mind is not trademarked. These infringements can result in the owner of the trademark claiming your hard work and sometimes profits from the website as their own. This will also rule out many unavailable options.

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make it memorable

Now, for the creative part. Make it memorable and ensure that it’s easy to pronounce. Unique, brandable names are much more memorable and likely to be shared. A domain name cannot contain spaces your can however use underscores and hyphens.

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be clear

It’s also important to be clear. If possible your domain name should immediately convey what your website and business is about. Including niche appropriate keywords in your domain name can signal to Google how your site is relevant.

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appropriate extensions

Finally, choose an appropriate domain extension. A .com domain is a universal choice but depending on your needs or nature of business, you might have to choose a different option. There are geographical domains like a .co.za domain, or a category for example, .pro .guru .space and so on.

the domain name process

here's what you need to do:

The domain name process can be broken down into the following 5 steps.

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choose the right domain name

The first step is to decide which domains you would like to purchase. Keep them short and easy to remember as you'll probably be using these for email purposes as well.

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check if the domain is available

Next you'll want to check if the domains are available to buy. WHOIS servers provide a record of all domain registrations. Use our WHOIS lookup tool to see if your domain is available.

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choose a domain registrar

The third step is to choose a domain registrar. A domain registrar is typically a hosting company with the authority to sell domains. Prices will vary at different hosting companies and some hosts may provide a hefty discount up front. While this may be enticing - be sure to check the renewal fees before purchasing a domain.

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buy your domain

The fourth step is easy. Simply add your chosen domains to the cart, complete the checkout process which includes adding your details, and pay the invoice which has been generated. Be sure to add hosting for your domains if you don't already have hosting.

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wait for dns propagation

Once our system registers the domain(s) there will be a period where DNS needs to propagate world wide. This can take up to 24 hours to complete. Once progation has completed, your domain will be ready to use.

domain name strategy

More than 110,000 domains are registered every day. Consequently, the number of domains available dwindle with each passing day. When you’re planning which domains to buy, it’s critical that you act quickly. Then, once you’ve registered your business name and domain name, it’s essential to protect your brand online.

The average online customer cannot distinguish official domains and websites from fake ones, so there are countless opportunists who capitalise on this. They leech off successful brands by buying similar domain names to steal clients who are none the wiser. Unless you’ve trademarked your brand name, it’s near impossible to get these counterfeit sites removed.

Hence, a domain name strategy can safeguard your brand from current or future competitors.

This entails buying as many variations of your domain and brand names as you can to prevent others from abusing them.

First, buy all popular extensions to your domain name, such as .com, .net, .biz, and .co.za. For example, we own hostafrica.co.za, then we bought hostafrica.com, and hostafrica.net. This is most important, because if you own mybusiness.com and someone buys mybusiness.net, most people wouldn’t notice the difference in the extension and think it’s your brand.

Then, buy domain name variations of your brand name that might apply. For instance, buy hyphenated versions of your original domain name, like host-africa.co.za. Lastly, other adaptations include misspellings like mibusiness.com , plural or singular versions, and names that sound the same but are spelt differently.

the top domains to buy for your business

A root domain consists of two parts within your website URL that you can choose and register. The first part, a domain name, sits in between the two dots. Our domain name is “hostafrica”. The best domain names to buy are names most relevant to your website and easiest to remember. As our name conveys, we are a hosting provider in Africa.

The second part of a root domain is called the Top-Level domain (TLD) or domain extension. This helps categorise domains to show further relevancy. Our extension is .co.za, which shows we are a commercial company based in South Africa. .co and .com are now known for commercial purposes, specifically for-profit business entities.

As you know, .com is the most popular extension in the world, and therefore the most memorable and trustworthy. However, the .com domain space is so saturated that there are few .com domains available.

Other prominent TLDs are .org for non-profit organisations, and .net for networking purposes. Along with .com, these are known as generic top-level domains, best for business websites with an international target audience.

There are also country code top-level domains (ccTLD) such as .za for South Africa, .uk for the United Kingdom, and .de for Germany. These extensions are generally restricted to residents or businesses based in these countries. In some countries like South Africa, ccTLDs carry just as much weight as .com.

anatomy of a domain

In fact, Google considers a country code extension is a strong relevancy signal for the local audience. Hence, having a ccTLD can help your business website rank better in that specific country. Google also prioritises websites with a local server IP address.

So, if your target audience is South Africans, .co.za would be the top domains to buy for your business, and HOSTAFRICA’s local servers would be perfect place to host your business sites. However, it’s important to note that a country-specific extension can limit your website from ranking worldwide.

domain faq's

In layman’s terms, a domain name is most commonly a website’s ‘address’ online. In our URL www.hostafrica.co.za, the domain name is “hostafrica” and sits between the two periods.

More accurately, a domain name can be thought of as a word-based address used to locate any resource on the internet. The internet is the worldwide network of servers, computers, and networks, interconnected by networking technologies such as optical fibre cables. The internet carries data stored on these resources to users around the world.

These internet resources are given a 12-digit numerical address, called an IP address, to be located by. An example IP would be 160.119.249.253. However, memorising and typing these IPs every time you want to find a resource on the internet is highly impractical. Hence, the World Wide Web (WWW) was invented — the global information system that made the internet easy to navigate.

The Web uses text-based Uniform Resource Locators (URLs, such as https://www.hostafrica.co.za/) instead of numbers to find resources. Much like a street address, domain names essentially label internet resources in an easily memorable way. However, fetching the info located of these resources was still an issue.

Finally, the invention of the web browser made these resources easy for everyone to access by handling the complex tasks in the background. Domains for websites are conveniently configured to point to the IP address of the servers that the sites are hosted on. So, whenever someone wants to visit your website, they simply type in the domain name, and their web browser knows which server to request your site’s content from and quickly to display it to users.

People search for domains to buy for several reasons. Domains for websites are the most popular, followed by domains for businesses who simply want their email domain name to match their business name. As a result, domain names are an extremely sought-after digital asset.

Altogether, over 100,000 domains are registered every day. This is because there is a continuous, rapid flow of new hobbyists and businesses starting their online ventures. To make matters worse, domain name speculators buy up as many domains with high traffic potential as they possibly can. These domains are bought as part of an investment strategy where they wait until the domains become highly demanded and valuable, then sell them for profit. You can find these domains for sale at domain auctions. Though if you choose to purchase an already registered domain name through one of these domain auctions. You need to ensure you purchase from a legitimate domain name auction company so that you know the money you paid will result in your securing the domain name.

If you’re looking to buy a domain name for your website or business email, the best places to buy from are web hosting providers. As explained in the sections above, you need a hosting plan to activate and use your domain name. Hosting companies like HOSTAFRICA provide absolutely everything you’ll need to set up and run your domain, emails, and website. Moreover, if you buy a hosting plan, you’ll likely get a local domain for free.

Domains are purchased on an annual basis. When you buy a domain, it is only yours to own for a year. If you don’t renew a domain, it will become publicly available for anyone on the planet to snatch up. Enabling the auto-renew feature with us will help to prevent this from happening.

At HOSTAFRICA, we don’t offer DNS management as a separate service for domains registered with another company. If you’d like to buy domains without hosting and manage your own DNS records, make sure to purchase your domains with us.

If you bought a new domain with us with no hosting plan, our system registers the domain and sends you a registration confirmation email. By default, your new domain will point to our name servers. If you specify custom name servers that have no records, your domain will then be placed in a ‘Hold’ state, which means it’s unusable until it’s pointed to name servers.

If you’re unhappy with your first-choice hosting/domain provider, transferring your domain is a relatively simply process. However, it should be noted that a domain cannot be transferred if it is within its first month of registration. Contact our helpful support for expert guidance.

Domain names are like digital real estate in such that they lay the groundwork for your website to be built on in a prime digital space. Like property, they are highly desired, long-term assets and may accumulate value as time passes. As is with any desirable fixed asset, domains hold considerable value.

Brand new, the price of domain names depends on the top-level domain or domain extension chosen with the domain name. Country-specific TLDs like .co.za can be affordable at R89 or $6 per year. Whereas popular generic extensions like .com, .org, and .net are almost 3 times the price. Novelty domain extensions like .pet, .organic, and .guitars can range from affordable to very expensive.

Domains are purchased on an annual basis, so that value accumulates. Since they are such an essential component to any business today, premium domain names with a couple years on the clock and a hard-earned brand image built on it can sell for up to $20,000.