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Q: How do I get a domain name?
by Mike Slocombe
Q: I'm new to Web site design, but I've got a basketball team and a roller hockey team interested in going online. Although I realise it isn't essential to have your own domain name, how do I go about getting one and does it matter where I register it if I don't know where I will host the sites?
A: If you're even remotely serious about getting on the Web, it's vital to get your own domain name. First check the domain names you want haven't already been snaffled - you can do this by typing them into sites such as Netbenefit.com/ or Netnames.com/. If the names are still free, grab 'em - they might not be around for long.
Ideally, try and select a domain name that includes keywords applicable to your site - thirsty surfers will be far more likely to click on beers-online-now.com instead of billjackonsshop.com
Although the registration process is fairly simple, it's probably easier to sign up to a Web hosting company and let it take care of the details. Check your chosen ISP/Web host will be able to meet your needs first.
There's plenty of free Web space available, but it's definitely a case of you get what you pay for. Free hosting usually burdens the site with ghastly ads and will invariably give you a thoroughly unmemorable URL (www.freebie-space.com /freeloaders/~mywebspace).
Worst of all, if you later decide to change your Web host, you'll lose your address, along with all the visitors who've bookmarked it.
Be wary of the super-cheap or freebie 'bargains' from hosting companies that offer to register the name for you - they might end up owning the domain name themselves and could charge you a bomb if you want to move servers later.
Many of these deals also involve search engine-unfriendly techniques like redirecting, masking and branded hosting, which you'll want to avoid.