Back in the mid-1800s, folks from all walks of life flocked to California to get their hands on the most precious material known to man. In total, about three hundred thousand people travelled by land, boat, and whatever means they had at their disposal in what would go on to become known as the California Gold Rush.
What does all this have to do with web hosting? Simple. Without really realising it, many of us been swept up in another sort of rush, and though the prize at stake may not -on first appearance at least- be as precious a nice, big lump of pure gold, the rewards of claiming a stake to a sought-after domain name have proved practically invaluable to those fortunate enough to do so.
The rush for Dot Coms
Since the turn of the millennium, Dot Com domain names have become hot property, and as big corporations look to sweep up as many of them as they can in the hope of turning a profit, us mere mortals are left clutching at straws when it comes to purchasing a domain name that’s right for our business.
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Indeed, much as with gold, the supply of Dot Coms is infinite in theory, yet very much finite in practice. If you can think of a word, you can think of a domain name, but you’ll have to be quick off the mark if you’re going to get your hands on it before anybody else does.
Sure, there are still domain names available, but getting one that works for you means a little more planning than you might imagine.
The right domain for your new business
When you’re starting a business, it’s almost essential these days that one of the first things on your agenda should be securing a domain name.
It’s all well and good deciding flat out that you’re going to call your new enterprise Tom’s Awesome Products, registering that as your company name and getting it branded all over your fancy new stationary, but if some other forward-thinking entreprenuer has already snapped up everything from tomsawesomeproducts.com to tomsproducts.org and everything in between, how are you going to direct people to your website without buying a domain name that doesn’t really reflect what you do or sell?
It’s doable, sure, but you’re going to have to be really clever about it, and let’s be honest, you’d much rather have a domain name that is simple, easy to remember and, for the most part, reflects your company.
The safer option then, is to at least explore your domain name options before you even get started. It could be as simple as registering with a leading web host and taking advantage of the free domain name that most of those providers include as part of their standard plans.
Checking if a domain is free
An another alternative is to use a free online tool like Checkdomain to, well, check a domain. Type in the one you’re thinking of, and the site will tell you whether or not its available. Of course, you could always just type the address itself into your browser and see what comes up. If there’s an existing website there, chances are you’ll have to move on and try your luck elsewhere.
If tomsawesomeproducts.com turns up nothing but a note from your ISP telling you there’s nothing there, then chances are you can go ahead and snap up that domain before somebody else gets their hands on it.
There is one other thing that might show up, and that’s a simple page informing you that, whilst somebody has already registered that domain, they’re not really using it, and might be prepared to sell it on to you at the right price. Be aware though, domain sellers like that are likely to charge you a whole lot more than you’d be paying if you registered a different address with a web hosting company, so only go down this route if you’re absolutely adamant that you must have a particular address, and if you’re prepared to pay over the odds for it.