Registering Domain Names and Configuration
Once you have a web server or hosting package, you will need to register a domain name. In this tutorial I will give you some great tips on choosing a domain name, guide you through the registration process and how to link your domain to your website.
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- Introduction to Web Hosting
- Registering Domain Names and Configuration
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- Setting Up New WordPress Site
- How To Install WordPress Themes and Plugins
- Using WordPress Custom Fields
- Creating WordPress Themes
- How To Create Wordpress Widgets
- 10 Essential WordPress Plugins for 2008
- WordPress Security 101
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This guide is written using 123-reg.co.uk as the domain provider and pair Networks as the web hosting provider. The specifics may change by company, but the overall steps are the same.
- Choosing a domain name
- Registering your domain
- Configuring the server for the domain
- Changing name servers
I have been using 123-reg for a number of years now without any problems and I can highly recommend them. The process of buying a domain name is very simple, and with 123-reg you have full control over all settings. Some domain providers will manage these settings for you, but you may have to wait for changes to be made - some even only work during business hours!
Choosing a domain name
Firstly you need to think of a domain name. When choosing your Domain name you should choose a name that reflects your company or website name. This could be your brand or personal name. Think about how you search on Google yourself.
Tips for choosing a domain name
- The name should reflect your website name. This could be your brand or personal name. For example timtrott.co.uk
- Avoid the "flavour of the month" unless you want to be changing domain names. iPod, iPhone, iWebsite and so on has been done to death and is repetitive and boring now (see next tip)
- Your domain name should stand out from the crowd. Everyone seems to have an iWebsite. Be original.
- Invent your own words, try combining words (Bust-a-Name is good at this), using similar words from a thesaurus or even translated into different languages.
- Try adding Latin or Greek prefixes and/or suffixes to a word, for example -atus, -ium or -ia.
- Avoid using Trademarks in your domain name. Trademark owners will not like you for this any may issue a take-down notice.
- Try to get a .com domain name, as it is the one most people will automatically assume and habitually type into a browser.
- A good domain name will be short, easy to remember, easy to spell and don't contain hyphens or numbers.
- All good names are taken? Mostly, but just because they are taken doesn't mean that they are in use. A lot of great names can be bought second-hand at Sedo or similar domain name collectors.
- Once you have decided on your domain name, before registering it, ask your friends or colleagues on their opinion about the name. For example, look at the domain name "ExpertsExchange.com", at first glance the name looks fine, but one can also read this domain as "ExpertSexChange.com"!
Registering your domain
Once you have found an available domain, add it to your basket. 123-reg will automatically select a few other domains as well, so you may wish to deselect them before clicking add to basket or you can remove them later.
In the next screens, 123-reg will ask for standard registration information and payment options, as well as additional packages such as hosting or email. I have never used these features so I am unable to comment on them. They will set up an account for you that you can later use to purchase more domains and to configure the domain(s) you just purchased.
When everything is finalised you will receive an email confirming your domain and login details. You will need to login to the 123 websites to make any changes to your domain(s). You will have to wait about an hour before changing any settings on the domain, so while this is going on I usually prepare my hosting account to accept the domain.
Configuring the server for the domain
In these steps I am using my Pair networks account as an example; however, most control panels will have similar features, maybe with slightly different names. In any case, your host should provide help documentation. Some may even offer to do this for you as part of the service, although there may be a delay.
You need to go into the "Domain Hosting Management" screen and "Add a Domain Name That is Already Registered".
There is an administration cost of $5 per domain, with an additional $1 per month if you want a new dedicated IP address, otherwise, you can share the IP address already assigned to your hosting account at no additional charge. I cannot see any reason why you would want to give each domain a unique IP address at this stage, so make sure that shared IP address is selected.
After you have entered the domain name that you purchased you will be presented with a confirmation screen containing two name servers that you need to either tell your domain registrar or configure your domain to use. Write these down or print the page because you will need these in a moment.
Your web server is now configured to accept your domain name. All we have to do now is tell the domain name to go to your server. This is done with the name servers.
Changing name servers
Back into your 123-reg control panel, you will have an option to manage existing domains, once logged in to the control panel you may have to scroll down a bit to get to it. Select your new domain and see if you can find an option to manage domain locks. Some types of domain (e.g. .com) have a domain lock on them which must be removed before you can change name servers, while others (e.g. .co.uk do not). If you have these options then go into the screen and unlock the domain.
Find the option to manage name servers; this may not be available until one hour after registration, although sometimes it can be much earlier. If the option isn't there yet you may have to try this later.
The name server screen will show a couple of text boxes labelled name server 1 and 2. You need to enter the values from your Pair control panel (or provided by your host) into these boxes. Only enter the names, not the IP addresses.
Submit the form and if everything is OK you should get a message notifying you that the changes have been submitted. If you had to unlock your domain you should now go back and lock it again.
All you need to do now is wait for the DNS settings to propagate through the internet before you can access your hosting package with your domain name. This could take a few minutes (I have had a domain working within 5 minutes of registering it!) but sometimes it can take a few hours or even days. When it is working you should be able to type in your domain name and it will show your empty directory listing (or content if you have uploaded that already).
That's a brief guide on how to register a domain name and setup DNS to point to your web server. Some of the options will vary between hosts and registrars; some will give you full control like Pair and 123-reg, while others will require you to email a technical support department who will make the changes for you.
Just remember if you do have full control that there are loads of options that you can change, some of which can be quite dangerous if you don't know what they do, so if in doubt don't do it. 99% of the time all you need to do is update the name servers.
In the next tutorial, we will be looking at the types of website and the software you can install.
Last updated on: Thursday 22nd June 2017
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