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How to register your company's website domain name
I was more than a little annoyed to discover that a friend of mine recently paid a “web developer” R600.00 ($75 or £45) to register his business’s domain – that’s EXCLUDING the hosting company’s domain registration fee. Ludicrous! R600.00 for something that probably took said developer about 5 minutes to do. This small business owner could easily have done it himself had he not been totally intimidated by the task.
So in the interests of saving you a few bucks, here’s a quick guide to registering a domain name. But first a few definitions :
ISP – Your Internet service provider i.e. the company that provides you with your Internet access. In South Africa that could be MWEB, WebAfrica, Polka, Telkom, ect. Your ISP does not have to be the same as the company who hosts your webpage.
Hosting - In order for people all over the world to access your website at any time they want to, it has to be kept somewhere – this is where your hosting company comes in. They keep your webpage on their server and make sure it’s available when its URL is entered into a web browser.
Domain Name – that’s basically the name (or address) of your webpage e.g. wehavesmellysocks.co.za - “.co.za” is a country code Top Level Domain and “wehavesmellysocks” is a second level domain. (.com is a is generic Top Level Domain.)
Subdomains – these are third level domains that help you organise the content on your site. Kind of like subfolders in a big file. You don’t need to register subdomains. You can also use the URL of a subdomain to send visitors directly to a certain page they require.
Most hosting companies in South Africa charge between R79.00 – R99.00 per annum for a co.za domain name. .Com and .biz are pricier, but there isn’t really any difference between them anyway – these top level domains are used to indicate your geographical location (za is South Africa) or type of organisation (.org is a non-profit.)
The great news is that you can register your domain name as soon as you’ve decided what your business name is (and before someone else snaps it up). You can also “park” it until you are ready to start building your website without paying any hosting charges. Most hosting companies will allow this for free. I have been told that a number of companies frown upon this practice because of domain squatting - which is registering a domain name with the hopes of selling it for profit one day when the brand / company whose name you are using, wants to register. Double check this with whichever hosting company you are planning to use.
And even better news is that if you decide that you want to use Company B to host your website after you’ve already register your domain with Company A – you can simply transfer your domain to the new hosting company and this will also usually be done free-of-charge.
Now that you know all that stuff, all that remains for you to do is check whether the domain name you want is available.
Simply visit the domain registration site of your choice – we recommend Hetzner or Webafrica – and navigate to the “domain registration” page. Both sites will give you a search bar to check whether the domain you want is available. If it is, great stuff. Enter your billing details and you’re the proud owner of a shiny new domain name!
If not, either consider variations on the name you were hoping for or visit the co.za Domain Administration site here. Enter the domain name in question in the specified area and the site will provide you with the details of the registered owner. You could then contact him/her to find out if they’re willing to sell the domain name to you.
See. Easy-peasy. Here’s hoping we saved you 600 bucks!
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