By Jim LeFevre, Senior Director of Marketing, Public Interest Registry
If you’ve been keeping up with our Domain Industry blog series, you should be familiar with key industry concepts and lingo. The first part of the series “Domain Lingo 101: Who’s Who in the Industry?”, introduced us to registrars as a key group of organizations that play a critical role in the domain industry as a whole. In case you need a quick refresher, domain registrars are who you work with to find and purchase a domain name for your website. A registrar will let you know what domain names are available and can also help you choose the top-level-domain (TLD) extension (like .org, for example) that comes after your selected domain name.
While domain registration is what registrars are most commonly known for, many registrars provide a variety of other services that you may not be as aware of. In this first post of the “Insider’s Guide to the Industry” we will dive into the different registrar options that are available and discuss why some individuals and organizations may choose one option over another.
Curious what type of registrar is best for you? Read on to learn more about the registrar landscape, what offerings you shouldn’t overlook and what might make the most sense for you and your organization.
Looking for a website that ensures all the data processed or stored on the site is held to a certain level of security? Be sure to find a strong registrar partner (as outlined in Step 1 of our Internet Safety Month guest blog) that lists the majority, if not all, of the following in its offerings: end user DNSSEC management support, WHOIS privacy/proxy services, SSL certificate, website malware scanner, threat monitoring and hacker protection. These features ensure data is as secure as possible as it travels through your website. While data security is always critical online, there are organizations/sites (such as ecommerce, fundraising, etc.) that require higher online security standards due to the sensitive nature of information being processed (i.e. personal/financial information). If your organization handles this type of sensitive information, you need to be sure you’re working with a registrar that can provide that heightened level of security.
Would you like to purchase a domain name that is already in use? Keep tabs on the registrars that offer domain auctions. It’s likely, if the current owner of that domain name plans to sell the domain, they will do so from a registrar’s platform. If you’re searching for a specific domain name, by engaging auction services, much of the leg work of finding and monitoring the domain you would like to purchase is avoided. Additionally, through the auction purchase approach, you may be able to locate and buy a specific or premium domain name for a better deal.
Hosting Services Providers
If you’re looking for a one-stop-shop for setting up your website, consider working with a registrar who also offers website hosting. Not only will you be able to register your domain, but you’ll be able to quickly turn around and host your website without having to consult or work with a separate provider or vendor. When searching for hosting services, it’s also important to find the option that makes the most sense for you.
If you’re looking for existing website templates and a built-in toolset for quick customization then WordPress hosting could be a strong choice. Looking for scalability? Cloud web hosting allows site owners to scale their computing resources as they’d like, often resulting in cost savings. Want the affordability of shared hosting but the control of a dedicated server? VPS might be a better fit. By finding the service under your registrar umbrella that best fits your business, you can save time and ease overall management pains.
If you’re launching your own website and hoping to personalize it, there are several offerings to consider, including independent email accounts, access to a website builder platform/toolset and the ability to develop and design your site. With an independent email account, you can keep all your online communications branded, meaning your email domain would match your website domain, rather than hold the domain of popular email platforms such as gmail.com or comcast.net. Website design capabilities also allow you to make a more customized site by building it from scratch (rather than choosing from existing templates).
If your organization is looking for a specific domain extension or TLD, it is also important to research which registrar offers that TLD before making a decision. Imagine selecting a registrar based on personalization offerings, only to find your preferred extension isn’t available for purchase. There are over 1,300 TLDs available to purchase domain names in and many of them are open to any and all on a first come first served basis. However, some TLDs are tailored to offer services to specific groups of professionals or organizations. For example, .realtor and .movie have some specific criteria to purchase their domains. It may suit your organization to seek out that type of TLD to lend credibility to your domain name or to help target a certain audience. Other TLDs like .org are open to all but are also well known as being mission driven and serving those working to do good. Research into these distinctions is important.
Additionally, if you need a country-specific domain name extension (like .de for the German market or .au for Australia), local domain registrars can at times be a great resource. However, many domain name registrars offer country-specific TLDs, so you don’t have to feel limited in your search. Other top TLD’s like .org can be purchased from a variety of registrars, so you have more of an opportunity to vet registrars based on other features and benefits.
Once you purchase a domain name for a website, you’ll very likely want to purchase the website as well. In this case, many owners would like the ability to easily set up a webpage for the long term and avoid lapses that allow others to scoop up their domain name. If so, be sure to find registrars that allow long-term registration (some offer up to 10 years!), automatic domain renewal and drop catching prevention.
If your organization is purchasing a domain name for a product or company that is likely to last a long time, you can avoid accidentally forgetting to renew the domain name due to credit card expiration, staff changes or simple planning accidents by purchasing an auto-renew service or pre-paying for up to 10 years. And in the event of potential drop catching – when you forget to renew your domain name, leaving it open to buyers ready to pounce – some domain registrars offer a service which holds onto the domain for a certain period of time to prevent loss.
If you are new to the domain industry and are looking for more support throughout the domain name registration process, we also recommend looking for a registrar that offers generous customer service offerings. From 24/7 live chat capabilities, to email ticketing, to a search function, to phone support, be sure to research how much support each registrar provides and for how long, so you know what this customer service will look like and if it will fit your short-term or long-term needs.
While we recommend you initially look beyond fees in your registrar selection process (there are many factors to consider outside of price when selecting the perfect fit) the registrar offerings outlined above are fee-based. Be sure to carefully assess what it is you are paying for. If you’re footing the bill for services you don’t use, adjustments can and should be made.
As you can see, there are several variables to consider when choosing the registrar that is right for you. Now that you know what options you have, go forth and conquer in registering your very own domain name! And stay tuned for the next post in the next Insider’s Guide to the Industry post which will provide a deep dive on registries.