Why is it Necessary to Register a Domain Name?
If you're running a website, you need a domain name (such as masterslair.com), so that people will be able to access your website. Registering a domain name makes you the legal owner of that name and also allows you to manage what web server people will be directed to when they enter www.your-domain-name.com into their web browsers
We Recommend GoDaddy as Your Domain Name Registrar
GoDaddy is currently the largest domain name registrar. I've been using them for the last couple of years, and I haven't had a problem with their service. Additionally, they frequently offer discounts on new domains and renewals, so it's usually pretty easy to find a coupon to save some money when it's time to renew your domain name each year.
How to Register a Domain Name at GoDaddy
If you're new to web hosting, GoDaddy's domain name registration process may seem a little intimidating at first because there are a lot of options to choose from. So this guide, we'll walk you through all of the steps and explain in detail about each option, so you can decide if it's worth it or not. Along the way, we'll also tell you the best ways to save money on your domain name purchase.
Important Note: If you have a web hosting account already, make sure you enter the nameservers for your hosting account during the registration process (shown in Step 4 below). This is required to make your website accessible at your new domain name.
Overview of the Domain Name Registration Process
- Step 1 - Start the Registration Process
- Step 2 (optional) - Add Any Additional Domains
- Step 3 - Enter the Contact Information for Your Domain Name
- Step 4 - Pick Your Registration Length, Set Your Web Hosting Nameservers, and Choose Your Renewal Method
- Step 5 (optional) - Domain Privacy and Protection Options
- Step 6 (optional) - Email Addresses and GoDaddy Web Hosting
- Step 7 - Review Your Order and Optionally Add Discounted Private Registration and Matching Domains
- Step 8 - Finish the Checkout Process
Step 1 - You can start the domain registration process at the following page: Register a Domain Name at GoDaddy.
GoDaddy changes its front page pretty often, but you should see something similar to what's shown above.
Enter Your Domain Name and Click "GO"
There should be a box (like the one shown above) that will let you enter the domain name that you want to register. Go ahead and do that, and then click GO.
Step 2 (optional) - Add Any Additional Domains and Click "Continue to Registration"
GoDaddy will usually offer to let you add additional similar domains names with different extensions, such as .ORG and .NET.
If you're buying the .COM of a domain name and trying to build a brand name, it's usually a good idea to also buy the .ORG and .NET to stop potential competitors from taking it (once you're established).
You can save money by adding additional domain names when you're reviewing your order at the end
If you don't add any additional domain names here, GoDaddy will usually entice you with a discount on buying the .NET, .ORG, and .INFO extensions on the next page, which is shown below.
And if you also ignore this 2nd chance offer, they'll usually try one last time (at an even lower price) when you're reviewing your shopping cart at the end of the ordering process (shown in the picture below), so I'd recommend waiting until then to add any domain extensions.
When you're done adding domain names, click Continue to Registration.
Step 3 - Enter the Contact Information for Your Domain Name
In this step, you'll basically see a form asking for your name and address. The information you enter here will be publically available as the contact information for your new domain. Anyone that wants to lookup this information will be able to do so.
GoDaddy offers domain privacy options to those that want to keep this information private, which you'll have a chance of adding in a few minutes.
Once you've entered your contact information, click Next.
Step 4 - Pick Your Registration Length, Set Your Web Hosting Nameservers, and Choose Your Renewal Method
Alright, this is an important step, and it's why we recommended getting your web hosting before your domain name.
Pick Your Registration Length
You can register your new domain name for as little as 1 year or up to as much as 10 years.
Registering for more than 1 year basically locks in the rate that you'll have to pay, so if domain prices go up next year, you won't have to pay any extra. Additionally, some discounts will let you also use the discount for each additional year, but this isn't always the case, so you need to check your total when you're shown the price at the end to see if the discount applied to the other years.
If you only want to pay by the year, your initial discount will only apply to the first year. The next year, you'll have to pay full price by default, so keep that in mind when deciding how many years to prepay for. However, if you do a little searching, you can usually find coupon codes for around 37% off on renewals, so you can still get a good deal when paying yearly, it just takes a little more work because you'll have to manually renew each year.
Set the Nameservers for Your Web Server
For this step, you'll need the two nameservers (also known as DNS servers) provided by your web hosting company. Setting your domain name to your hosting company's nameservers will allow your website to be accessible at your new domain name. If you're using HostGator, you'll find the nameservers in the account information email that you got after signup and also in bottom-left area of your HostGator control panel.
Once you have the new nameservers ready, click the Set Nameservers link shown in the picture above. This will then reveal the area shown below for entering your new nameservers.
For some reason, they split each namesever box into three parts, so you'll need to enter the nameservers as I've done in the picture above. Make sure you put them into the top two boxes.
Choose Your Renewal Option
The last thing in this section is the Auto-Renew option. By default GoDaddy will automatically renew your domain name when your registration length is up. If you initially paid for 2 years upfront, it will automatically renew for another 2 years when it's time to renew again.
If you don't like this, you can choose to renew manually. If you choose this option, GoDaddy will email you when it's time to renew. Make sure you renew before the deadline, or you could lose your domain name or have to pay a high fee to get it back.
Step 5 (optional) - Domain Privacy and Protection Options
This page is basically asking if you'd like to add any extras, such as private registration. I'll explain each of the options in a little more detail. However, if you want more information about anything on this page, just highlight over each of the links for more details.
By default, the Standard Registration option is selected, which will make the name, address, email, and telephone number that you entered earlier publically available to anyone researching your domain name (through the public WHOIS database). That's what the Personal information is unprotected in Public WHOIS database line means. Private registration will basically hide all of this information from the public.
If you only want to make your registration information private (without all of the extras, such as Business Registration), you can usually add that option later in the registration process, and the price should be significantly lower.
Instead of hiding all of your information from the public like private registration does, Business Registration will allow you select exactly what information is provided to the public.
By default with the manual renewal option mentioned earlier, GoDaddy will email you whenever it's time to renew, and if you're using the auto-renewal option, I'm guessing they will also email you when your credit card is about to expire. However, if you don't renew after receiving these notices, your domain name may be resold to the public after about a month.
This option basically provides insurance against accidentally losing your domain name due to expiration, and they will hold your domain name for up to a year without reselling it -- even if it's expired.
Deadbolt Transfer Protection
By default (and free of charge), GoDaddy already locks your domain name, so no one can easily transfer or steal it without permission, but I guess this option provides even MORE protection.
Step 6 (optional) - Email Addresses and GoDaddy Web Hosting
This step is basically asking if you'd like to add email addresses or GoDaddy web hosting to your new domain.
I haven't personally used GoDaddy's web hosting, but based on the customer reviews and feedback I've heard, HostGator seems like the better option for web hosting, which is why we recommended them earlier in this guide.
Additionally, if you already have a web hosting company, they probably already offer free email addresses for your domain name (HostGator does), so check with your hosting company before paying for this option.
Step 7 - Review Your Order and Optionally Add Discounted Private Registration and Matching Domains
* Note: I wasn't using any discounts when I made this picture, so the total is probably higher than you'll see when signing up.
This is your last chance to change anything related to your domain name order.
This is the Best Time to Add Private Registration or Any Matching Domains
If you want the private registration option that I was mentioning earlier, this is where you can add it at the lowest possible cost.
Additionally, they're also offering the matching .NET, .ORG, and .INFO domains at a pretty big discount (compared to what we saw earlier), so if you want to secure those domain names, this is also the best time to do so.
When you're happy with everything here, click Continue to Checkout.
Step 8 - Finish the Checkout Process
The rest of the checkout process is pretty standard and self explanatory.
Any contact information you enter after this point will not show up publically -- regardless of whether you went with public or private registration. For example, you'll also be asked for your GoDaddy account and billing information, but this information is just used for maintaining your GoDaddy account and paying for your domain names.