We all know the Internet is an endless spring of community, entertainment, commerce and information. Unlike traditional mediums (print, TV, radio, brick and mortar businesses), the web promotes interaction by enabling everyone with a computer and a connection to cautiously dip their toes or cannonball full force into the world’s biggest pool party. Encouraging that do-it-yourself spirit in each of us are an endless line of designers, programmers and hosts who are anxious to assist even the most technically timid to sprout wings with their own site. However, you’ll never make it out of the nest if you don’t have the perfect domain name for your site. And thus, the search begins.
When you want to create a new domain name, you need to do the following:
- Make sure that the domain name doesn’t confuse potential visitors. Strive for a site name that sounds exactly like it’s spelled so you don’t need a search engine to find it. A quick trip to Alexa’s Top 100 U.S. sites shows there are few exceptions to this rule. With most basic words already spoken for, be prepared to get creative, mixing words together or coming up with an appropriate onomatopoeia.
Try to come up with an original name that is catchy enough to be passed along at the water cooler. Look no further than domain names Yahoo or Google. While these names really don’t reveal much about two of the web’s most visited sites, they’re easy to recall and short on syllables, making it easy for first-timers to find.
Commit to securing a “.com” name. It only takes a quick trip to Alexa to discourage any thoughts of settling for less popular “.org,” “.net” or “.info.” Of the Top 100 traffic-ranked sites in the United States, only 10 ended with something other than “.com.” At the end of the day, why argue with 90% of the country’s most-visited sites?
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Cross check the domain name quality with others and consider their opinions.You may discover that what you thought was a great domain name idea is actually not so. If you are very secretive about the domain name, use Domometer in private mode and check the domain name quality grade. Anything above C+ is usually considered a good domain name.
- Use the Whois database to find a unique domain name that isn’t yet registered. There are several sites that offer free Whois database searches, such as PowerHoster. If the search comes up empty, you know the domain name is available.
- Register the domain name with a registrar. There are a lot of registrars to choose from, and some offer special prices for registering the COM, NET, and ORG versions of a domain at the same time, for registering for two or more years, or for hosting the domain with the same company. We suggest you to register your domian name with powerHoster.com.
- If you’re hosting the domain at a different company than your registrar, configure the registrar to point your domain name to the correct host name or IP address for your hosting company (see information below about A records).
Using the DNS servers from your registrar or hosting company means that you have a parked domain. This means that someone else owns the computer hardware for the DNS servers, and your domain is just part of that company’s larger DNS configuration. Alternatively, if you’re passionate about hosting your own DNS, you can set up your own server, either as a physical or virtual machine. Whichever DNS setup you decide on, that DNS server (or group of servers) becomes the SOA for your domain, as described earlier.
Whether your SOA is somewhere else or on your own system, you can extend and modify your DNS settings to add sub-domains, redirect e-mail and control other services. This information is kept in a zone file on the DNS server [source: Powerhoster.com]. If you’re running your own server, you’ll probably need to manually edit the zone file in a text editor. Many registrars today have a Web interface you can use to manage DNS for your domain. Each new configuration you add is called a record, and the following are the most common types of records you can configure for your DNS server:
- Host (A) — This is the basic mapping of IP address to host name, the essential component for any domain name.
- Canonical Name (CNAME) — This is an alias for your domain. Anyone accessing that alias will be automatically directed to the server indicated in the A record.
- Mail Exchanger (MX) — This maps e-mail traffic to a specific server. It could indicate another host name or an IP address. For example, people who use Google for the e-mail for their domain will create an MX record that points to ghs.google.com.
- Name Server (NS) — This contains the name server information for the zone. If you configure this, your server will let other DNS servers know that yours is the ultimate authority (SOA) for your domain when caching lookup information on your domain from other DNS servers around the world.
- Start of Authority (SOA) — This is one larger record at the beginning of every zone file with the primary name server for the zone and some other information. If your registrar or hosting company is running your DNS server, you won’t need to manage this. If you’re managing your own DNS, Microsoft’s support information has a helpful article on the structure of a DNS SOA Record.