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Getting a domain name and hosting

Now that we have your startup idea figured out, it's time to get you a name. With the great importance of a good URL, your name will depend on the availability of a domain name instead of the other way around. Let's get started.


Choosing your domain name

I love this step. This is where you turn your idea into reality; once you have claimed your domain name you are officially an entrepreneur and you own your piece of internet property!


What market are you targeting?

Before even discussing domain names, it is important you know which market you are targeting. The majority of people I helped were targeting English speaking visitors worldwide. In this case, there is only one domain name extension that I recommend: a .com. You will find out though that many .com's are already taken. Don't make the mistake of registering a .net or .org instead, you really want a .com if you target worldwide visitors. This has to do with ranking (.com's do better) and with usability (people understand .com domains better than .net).

In case you target another language things get easier; most Country Code Top-Level Domain (ccTLD) are not nearly as difficult to get. If you are targeting more than one language, invest in registering multiple domain names (a .com for your English site, a .es for Spanish, .de for German, etc.). You don't want your startup to be a success and find out someone took your domain names needed to target other languages/countries. Domains generally cost $10 a year anyway, so think ahead.

Choosing a good domain name is difficult. I can give you a few guidelines or criteria for selecting a domain name, but use your common sense, make a list of available options and ask some of your friends or colleagues for their opinion.



Domain registration



Criteria for choosing a domain name

Selecting a good domain name is crucial for the success of your startup idea. You probably have a name in mind, but is it a good domain name too? Keep these criteria in mind:


  • Include your important keyword (SEO)
    SEO is a term you will come across a lot when building a website, it means Search Engine Optimization (basically, making sure your website gets ranked in Google). Your domain name is still a factor in Google's ranking algorithm, though not as much as it used to be. Why is it still important? Because websites linking to your site will most likely use your domain name as link title (also called anchor text); this is important. So, most often it is a good idea to include the most important keyword for your site in the domain name.

  • Intuitive
    People browsing the internet have virtually no patience. Your domain name is the first thing noted by visitors and so it is important that your domain name resembles what your website offers visitors.

  • Uniqueness
    Make sure your domain name is unique, this will prevent visitors ending up on another website than yours.

  • Do not use hyphens
    Do not use "-" and only use numbers if that really makes sense for your startup idea.

  • Short is good
    You do not want a domain name that nobody can remember or one that you can never print on any business card, right? Keep it powerful by using 15 characters or less.

  • Easy to spell
    Do not use difficult words. Really, you want a simple, easy to remember domain name.



Start searching

Now that you know what you need to keep in mind, start your quest. Checking if a domain name is available can be done using a free whois service. These services check the ownership of a domain you enter, even when the website is offline. One that I particularly like is the one offered by, as it shows alternatives to options you try. It will help you find a domain name even if most options are unavailable. Don't be put off if you find out most of your desired domains are unavailable; I told you it would be difficult right? Be creative and try many different options. Write down the options that are available and check the criteria above again.



Whois check
Searching for the domain to see if it is available.



whois results
The domain is unavailable, but a few similar domains are (



Social media URL's

One thing you can try to keep in mind is that eventually, social media will be important to your business. When registering your domain name, it would be convenient to check if these names are also available on your desired social media. I know I am making the domain name quest even more complex by saying this, but it is worth the additional effort.

More information on claiming your social media channels.



Found it! Now what?

Congratulations! Now you need to register your domain. Most likely, you will need webhosting too (see below) and most often a domain name is included in the price. If you don't need webhosting, a domain name registration company that I always use is InMotion Hosting. Compare the rates with other companies though to see if they offer a good deal.



Choosing your domain name is an absolutely crucial and largely irreversible step. Think it through and involve others to check if you are on the right track!





Choosing a webhosting company

Registering a domainname was step one, now you need to decide on a webhosting company. Whether or not you need webhosting depends a little bit on the decisions you take in the next step (building your website), but in 90% of the cases you will need it. If you are unsure, check the next step first and then come back here.


Webhosting, webwhat?

Your domain name is the address, your webhosting is the actual place of your website on the internet. Webhosting is basically a service that rents you a small place on a server, so that visitors that type in your domain name can see the texts and photos you put on your site. Selecting a good webhosting is important, as you want your visitors to be able to visit your website without waiting for pages to load.


Webhosting, what to look for?

Apart from speed, I tend to focus on customer service, because you will need it eventually. After years of experience and many disastrous experiences I put price last in my consideration for selecting a webhosting company. If you Google for "webhosting company" you will find dozens of companies, look around a bit to compare prices and offers. If you start out with a simple website you are suitable for most shared hosting accounts, only if you have hundreds of visitors a day will you need something more serious. Most hosting companies offer an automated install of WordPress or Joomla! (more about this in the next step, building your website); this might be convenient for you.

For a few years now, I have found my perfect webhosting partner in InMotion Hosting. Please note that this is an affiliate link (I make money if you click this link and register), but trust me when I say this is really the best webhosting company I have come across. If you see they have a good deal on hosting, I'd recommend choosing them.


Webhosting companies should be selected on customer service, speed and lastly, price. You don't want to save a few bucks a year and experience your website to be offline while you wait for their staff to finally get around to reading your email.




Alright, what's next?

You have selected your domain name and webhosting.

Congratulations! It's about time you start making a website.

Proceed with the next step


Step 1: Build websiteStep 2: Create contentStep 3: Attract visitorsStep 4: Make moneyStep 5: Grow your businessStep 6: Earn more