If you’re going to own a web store, you’ll need a web address (often called a “root domain“) that will appear online in visitors’ search results, or when they type the name into their browser address bar.
As discussed in my article about getting the right company name, your choice of web address is critical to your business. Choose the name carefully, but when you’ve decided on a great name act right away to take ownership by registering it online.
Register Your Domain
Start by choosing the web hosting company where you will register your domain name. Your web host is an important decision, since you could be with the company for a long time. We use a web hosting company called 1&1 Internet* because they’ve been reliable and make it easy to upgrade service, but it’s important for you to research alternatives on your own.
Unfortunately, many websites that review and compare web hosting companies seem to provide incomplete and inaccurate information – possibly because they’re paid to do so. Don’t make your decision based solely on reviews from websites you don’t know well.
One way to learn about potential problems with a web host is to search their name and “sucks” (for example, “ExampleHosting sucks”) in Google. Typically the larger the company, the more negative results will appear. You’ll almost always see some complaints unless the company is very small, but it’s important to look through the negative comments, figure out how consistent and rational they seem to be, and use that as a guide.
Once you’ve decided on a web hosting company, compare the domain registration packages that they offer. Many hosts allow you to register a domain and get basic email service on your new domain for around $35 per year. Later on you can upgrade to a full web hosting package when it’s time for you to set up your website.
Having an email address on your domain (like sue@FishFoodSupply.com) can help you look like a legitimate company as you start your business. Most web hosts allow you to access this email account over the web, or you can set up an email client on your PC (like Microsoft Outlook). You can also forward your email to GMail and other accounts.
Register your “.com” domain name to start, and consider registering “.net” and alternate spellings as soon as it seems likely that your business will grow. Be sure to choose the option for private domain registration to avoid publishing your personal contact details online as the domain owner.
You’ll need a personal payment card to register the domain, but should change the automatic billing to your business payment card as soon as you set up your new bank accounts and business payment card.
Until you upgrade to a web hosting package, visitors will likely see a generic, domain parking page at your web address after you register the domain.
What Happens Next?
Your next step is to register your business with your government, just as a brick-and-mortar business does. We’ll discuss that next.
*This is not a paid endorsement.