Dec 172008
 

Ok, you’ve bought your domain name and you’ve bought your hosting and now you have to connect the two into a happy union. How you do this depends on exactly what you want to do.

  1. If you bought your domain name at a 3rd party registrar, meaning you didn’t buy it from the hosting company, and you want to point that name to the host. Or…
  2. You actually want to transfer the domain from whichever registrar you happen to have to your hosting service. The hosting service then becomes the new registrar of the domain.

Pointing the Way

I’m going to assume that you want to connect your domain and your web host, but you want to keep your and your host separate. Which I think is a good idea since you get a lot more control over your domain doing it this way.

I’ll cover the other option later.

All web hosts have something called a nameserver. This is the magic that connects your domain to the computer that you’re renting space on. The tech’s will guffaw at this definition of mine, but it works for this discussion.

What you want to do is grab the nameserver domains from your host and enter them into your domain name administration panel. The nameservers probably came in the email that you received when you signed up for your new hosting service. They look something like this:

  • ns1.YourHostingService.com and
  • ns2.YourHostingService.com.

If they aren’t in the emails or you can’t find them in your host’s documentation then contact customer service.

Ok, You’ve Got Your Nameservers

Log into your domain administration account and look for a button or link that says something like: edit nameservers, change nameservers, assign nameservers, etc. If your registrar is GoDaddy then you log in and look for the tiny Manage Domains link, on the left side, under the My Products bar.

  • Click that link and you’ll hit the page with a list of your domain name(s.)
  • Click the domain name you want to point to your new host.
  • You’ll hit a page with all kinds of domain details. There’s a line of icons above that. Click the one that says Nameservers.
  • Enter the first nameserver name, for example: ns1.YourHostingService.com, into the first box. Enter the other, eg: ns2.YourHostingService.com, into the second box. I suggest using the ol’ copy and paste method. Fewer typos that way.
  • Hit the OK button (down and to the right.)
  • Give it a minute or three to think about it.
  • You will get the “finished” screen and you’re done.

Other registrars will be similar. Log in, find the place to modify your domains, then hit the link to edit/change nameservers. Plug in the new names, hit ok, and you’re done.

Note: Your domain will not connect to your new site immediately. It will take a few hours to a day or two for your new domain to properly resolve to your site. All registrars are pretty much the same in this. It just has to do with the way the internet works. Give it time, it’ll hook up, and you’re good.

You Want to Transfer Your Domain Name?

Why would you want to do that? If you’re not selling that domain name? The only advantage to having your domain registered with the same place that hosts your site is that you may get the domain for free as part of your hosting package and you won’t have to deal with nameservers.

If you have to fire your host then you may find that a third party registrar was a good idea after all, but here we go with the transfer:

The Process of Transferring

Transferring a name from Registrar A to Registrar B is not the same thing as pointing it to your host. When you transfer the name to another registrar you’re transfering the actual listing of the name from A to B.

You’re doing the same thing if you sell the name, it’s just that you have to coordinate money and registrar with the buyer.

So here’s what you need to do:

Log into the admin panel of the registrar listing your domain and unlock that domain. Domains are locked to prevent transfers. In the past scammers could hijack domains and locking prevents this. So you’re going to need to unlock it.

At the new registrar find the link that says Transfer Domain.

Enter the name of the domain that you wish to transfer and take careful note of any instructions on the page. You must have access to the email address that you used when you first registered the domain.

The transfer isn’t free. You will be paying for at least a year with your new registrar.

The transfer isn’t fast. It will take around 7 days to complete.

Once you’ve requested the transfer and paid your money you will get emails from both the new registrar and the old. Each one will want you to verify the transfer. Read those emails very carefully because they will contain instructions to on how to deny the transfer, as well as to approve it. YOU want to make sure you’re giving them the right instruction.

If you replied yes to the emails you might receive another email, from one or both registrars, acknowledging and verifying that the transfer will take place.

Then you wait a few days and the name will settle nicely into it’s new home.

Buying and Selling Domains

The process of buying and selling doman names is similar. The domain has to be unlocked and both the old and new registrars with send their emails requesting approval.

The buyer will, depending on the negotiations, pay the transfer fees.

Of course, there are a few potential pitfalls here. You might want to look into an escrow service to facilitate the transfer of both the name and the payment. AfterNic.com is one such service.

Do you want to play the buy/sell domain name game? Smart players make some pretty good money doing just this, but there are pitfalls. A good start might be to check out the domain appraisals at GoDaddy.com for any domains that you might have or want to buy. Start by looking for names that are easy to say out loud and that aren’t trademarked. A lack of numbers and hyphens is also good. GoDaddy.com, for example, hits nicely on all but the trademarked part. 😉

Good luck!

Summing Up

Once all the “paperwork” is done the domain name officially transfers to the new registrar and that part is done. If the new registrar is your hosting company then you are probably all done, if it’s not then you still need to set your nameservers.

Then you’re done.

Dec 172008
 

Ok, you’ve decided to build a site of our own and now you have to come up with a name for the thing. You head over to some domain name registrar and realize that a lot of names are taken. loans.com is long gone, as is VeryCool.com, and so on.

Don’t give up though, it just takes a few moments of thought and you will have a great domain name for that killer site of yours.

What is a domain name?

A domain name is simply the primary name of a website.  UnixTools.com is the domain name, of this site, for example. The .com part of the domain name is the extension. Since practically any word or phrase can be a domain and since there are literally dozens of extentions there are billions of possible domain name combinations. Change one letter, add a number, add a hyphen, use .ws instead of .com and you have a different domain name.

Then there are subdomains. This blog is on a subdomain of UnixTools.com: websites.unixtools.com. I’ll write about subdomains in a later post, for now we’ll stick with the primary domains.

Aren’t all the good domains taken?

As you may know pretty much any one word that you can come up with has already been taken by someone else, but this doesn’t mean that all the good names have been taken. Pretty much all the short names are gone, but a longer one may be better anyway, for you.

Actually, not all the short ones are gone. We just grabbed wotkk.com. That’s for the cookbook that my wife is writing, Wrath of the Kitchen King.

There’s also a market in expired domain names. These are the domains that were owned by someone, but for whatever reason their lease ran out and now they’re up for grabs. There are a number of brokers dealing in these expired domains and you can expect to pay a premium over a new domain.

Another option is to make a cash offer to the owner of a domain. He may just be willing to listen.

Just because the perfect name isn’t available doesn’t mean that you can’t come up with one that isn’t good enough.

How to create a domain name:

It really helps if you already have an idea of what your website is going to be about. Are you going to have a site about dogs? Fruit? Fishing? Sports? Writing? Politics? A particular model of Sony TV?

So let’s take dogs and see what we can come up with. Obviously dogs.com is taken as are dogs.net and dogs.org. If we stick a number on it though we might find something interesting. Checking with www.GoDaddy.com , as of this writing, dogs365.com is taken, but dogs365.org and dogs365.net, and a few others, are available. GoDaddy will also make additional suggestions.

.com is the way to go if you can get it, but only because .com is what everyone first thinks of with domain names. If someone is clicking a link to your site then it certainly doesn’t matter if you’re .com or .co.uk. By the way, GoDaddy frequently has .info names at a fraction of the cost of .com names.

Add a suffix or a prefix: mydogs, yourdogs, herdogs, dogsrock, bigblackdogsrule, unixdogs… Hmmm… I’ll bet that last one is available.

Let me check:  Oops, nogo. But it IS for sale (as of this writing) by the owner. The other extensions are available. Actually, so is BigBlackDogsRule.com. Since we really do have two big black dogs that one’s kinda interesting. Hmmm, I just checked (3/19/11) and UnixDogs.com is actually available.

So here’s your homework. Grab a notepad, real or computer, and jot down a few words that fit what your site might be about. Add a suffix and/or a prefix and/or a number. Combine a couple of words, mix them up, play with it a bit, and come up with a list of 10 names that will work for you. For example (feel free to use something other than .com:)

  1. blackdogs.com,
  2. bigblackdogs.com,
  3. dogsrulecatsdrool.com,
  4. dogsneedhugstoo.com, (ok, I’ll use some caps)
  5. My3bigDogs.com,
  6. DogsAroundTheWorld.com
  7. DogsAtWork.com
  8. 43dogs.com
  9. NothingButDogs.com
  10. DogsAreIt.com

Ok, that took a whole minute. Now lets see if any of those names are available (no, I’m not going to buy them.) We have (checking with GoDaddy:) dogsneedhugstoo.com, My3bigDogs.com, DogsAtWork.com (for the low low price of $2,688.00,) and 43dogs.com are all available. Four out of ten isn’t bad these days. Ok, three out of ten if you toss the expensive one.

Why’s that one so much? Someone probably grabbed it with the intent of reselling it at a nice profit. There are people who make a nice living at that game, by the way.

With a little brainstorming you should be able to come up with a good domain name for your site. Heck, you could even do like these newfangled Web 2.0 sites do and get a really weird name, such as Weebly.com. What the heck is a Weebly??? Qassia? Squidoo? At least HubPages makes some sense… How about Del.icio.us?

The point is, find a name you like and go for it.

3/19/11 – tweaked for spelling and such.