How to Claim Your Domain Name

How to Claim Your Domain Name

One of the first steps to building your organization’s web presence is to claim your domain name. The biggest challenge you will likely face is finding one that is available. This is especially true for churches (firstbaptist.com, org or net, are long gone!).

The easiest way to see if a domain is available is to search for it. If you type the desired domain into your browser and a web site opens, then the name has been claimed by another organization. If your church has a more common name like “Bethel” you may have to get real creative to come up with an available domain.

Today there is a very busy domain market place where agents are buying up domains to resale. This may be an option for you but be prepared to pay a premium price if your domain is for sale. If you want to see who owns a domain go to http://www.networksolutions.com/whois/index.jsp and do a whois search. The results will provide contact information of the domain owner, unless it is a private registration which will show the domain host’s contact info instead.

If no one owns the domain the whois results will offer you the opportunity to purchase the domain. I would suggest that you stop right there. If you purchase from Network Solutions you will be paying too much. Instead, here are two domain name providers that are reputable and very competitive priced:

1. http://name.com – We are currently moving all our domains to name.com because they have great customer service including phone support and very competitive pricing.
2. http://namecheap.com

Either of these will save you more than half of the Network Solution prices. Keep in mind that there are tons of domain providers out there, and some very low prices, so do your homework.

To give you an idea of just how easy it is to register a domain name, let me walk you through the process with some screen shots from 1and1.com. No matter who you register with the process will mostly work the same.

Step 1: Domain check

check for your desired domain


Step 2: Domain(s) Slection:

select the domains you want

Step 3: Domain Registration
“Public” Your user data and contact information is available for viewing.
“Private” You information is replaced with the domain host’s contact information.

registration information for your domain

Clicking on “next” begins the checkout/payment process. You can pay for one year or multiple years and you can set it up to auto-renew. When the payment process is complete you own the domain.

Step 4: Pointing Your Domain
Once the registration process is complete, it usually takes a day or so for the domain to be live and ready to point to your site. You can point a domain is one of two ways. You can either set the DNS of your domain or you can forward the domain.

1. DNS Settings:
In most cases DNS is the preferred option because it is a direct link to your web site pages. The direct link creates URLs that include the domain + page identifier which looks something like this: dirtcrew.org/dirtcrewtv.  To set the DNS you must provide the name server settings from the platform where your web site is hosted. Typically this consists of a Primary name server and a secondary name server found in the advanced DNS settings.

DNS name servers


2. Forwarding Settings:

When you forward a domain, the domain name is only pointing to the web pages rather than directly linking to them. This is called a redirect. There are two choices for redirecting:

A. Frame Redirect – Displays the entire site in a frame which shows your domain name as the URL on every page without the page name/identifier ending the URL. All they ever see in the address bar is your domain. Here is an example: the5smoothstones.com

B. HTTP Redirect – Does not display the site in a frame. When the visitor types in the domain name, once the site opens, the domain name has done it’s job and goes away. The visitor sees the native URL in the address bar as they navigate the site. Here is an example: missionga2020.org

redirecting a domain

Please note that every platform is slightly different and if you have trouble figuring it out do not hesitate to contact the help desk of the domain name host or the web site host to walk you through the set-up.

Finally, if you get a letter from some company named “Domain Registry of America” telling you it’s time to renew, throw it away! There are tons of domain name scams preying on our lack of understanding the domain registry process. The best defense is to set your domain on auto-renew with a valid credit card and then lock it. Your domain provider will take care of the rest. By the way, you can cancel your domain at any time but you do not get any refunds.

This post was about a 50,000 foot flyover for sure. If you have any tips to add please leave them as comments below for everyone’s benefit. Thanks!

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