Your domain name is the essence of your Internet identity. The domain name you choose for your company should be one that your customers will remember and use to find your website, your products and/or your services. No two parties can have the same domain name at the same time, which means yours will be a completely unique address.
Every domain name contains two or more components separated by "dots". The last part of the address is called the "top level domain". Top level domains are .com, .net, .org, .edu, .gov, and .mil, among others. The first part of the address is the "second-level domain". It is the second-level domain name that will immediately identify your company to your customers. A .com domain is recognized throughout the world as an online business, but .net and .org are also used.
In many cases, it is wise to purchase not only the "yourcompany.com" domain name, but the "yourcompany.net" and "yourcompany.org" names as well. Certain unscrupulous people can easily register "yourcompany.com", .net, and/or .org, and use these domains for websites that will make them money, and harm your business in the process. It is important to register your domain name at the earliest opportunity.
When you register a domain, you must first find out if that domain is owned by another party. Every registrar has a search form on their website where you may type in your chosen domain name. When you submit the form, the domain registry will be searched, and if you are fortunate, your domain will be available. If the domain is taken, you will have to choose another, until you find one that is available and suitable for your needs. With more then 40,000 domain names being registered daily, you may have to perform several searches to find an acceptable and available domain name. This is why we continually emphasize to "do it now"! You can hold the domain name indefinitely without having a website associated with it. If you wait until you have the website to purchase your domain, it may well be unavailable by the time you decide to get the domain name. Do it now!
When you find a domain that is available, the next step is to register the domain. When you purchase a domain through an accredited domain registrar, you are paying for several things. You are paying the registrar to tell all the other registrars that you now own that domain name, and they can't sell it to anyone else. You are paying them to maintain your contact information for that domain, and keep the rest of the computers on the internet notified of any changes you make. Your registrar tells all the other computers on the web where to find the website and where to direct the email associated with that domain name. This is known as "propagation", and usually takes from 24 to 72 hours to accomplish after the registration transaction is completed.
You will complete a form that asks for contact information in four categories, the Owner, the Billing Contact, the Administrative Contact, and the Technical Contact. Accurate information must be given. Providing inaccurate information can be grounds for revocation of your domain name registration. Your information will be available to the general public through the WHOIS database.
The Owner is the person or company who will own the domain name.
The Billing Contact is the person or company name on the credit card used to purchase the domain name. Invoices, renewal notices, and other communications from the domain registrar will be sent to the email and/or postal address listed as the Billing Contact. The name and address of the Billing Contact must match the information on record with the credit card provider.
The Administrative Contact is the person authorized to make changes to the domain name. Changing DNS information, domain transfers, redirects, and other domain management functions are all carried out by the Administrative Contact. This is usually the owner of the domain or an agent appointed by the owner.
The Technical Contact is the person responsible for handling the technical services for the domain, such as email and webhosting. Again, this is usually the owner of the domain or an agent appointed by the owner.