How to Buy a Domain Name: The Complete Domain Buyers Guide

In this domain buyers guide I’ll define common terms associated with how to buy a domain name, and give you tools and tips necessary to find your ideal domain name.  I’ll show you how to research and locate the domain registrar that is right for you, and show you how to register a domain name.  Included are 14 sure-fire tips to help you find the perfect domain.

You will also learn how to buy a domain name from an auction site or directly from a domain name owner.  In addition, I’ll tell you what a domain broker does for the domain buyer and seller.

What is a Domain Name?

A domain name is the name of your website.  It is the user-friendly name where users can access a website.  A domain name is what humans use to identify and easily remember website names on the internet.  Computers use IP addresses to communicate with other computers.  Because it is difficult for humans to read and remember strings of numbers, domain names were developed.  Next in the domain buyers guide, let’s take a look at Top Level Domains (TLDs).

What is a TLD?

A Top Level Domain (TLD) is the last section of a domain name following the last dot in an internet address.  There are five types of TLDs:

  1. gTLD or Generic TLDs such as .com, .org, and .info.
  2. ccTLD or Country Code TLDs such as .de (Germany) or .es (Spain)
  3. IDN ccTLD or Internationalized country code top level domains such as
  4. Infrastructure TLD such as .arpa is used for technical purposes and stands for Address and Routing Parameter Area.
  5. Historical TLD such as .yu (for the former country Yugoslavia) are for entities or countries that no longer exist.

Now that you understand the basics of a domain name and TLD, let’s take a look at what a domain registrar can do for you.

What is a Domain Registrar?

A domain name registrar is a place where users can register domain names.  Domain Registrars also map domain IP addresses.  Domain name registrars manage the registration process of internet domain names.  A domain registrar must be accredited by a Registry Operator.  A domain registrar must follow the guidelines established by the registry operator for each TLD.

For further reading on domain names, TLDs, Registrars, and Registry Operators see How the Domain Name System Works.  Now that you understand the basics, this domain buyers guide will help you select a domain name for your business.

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How to Select a Domain Name 

Save yourself a lot of time and money by doing a little bit of research on perspective domain names you want to buy.  Below are excerpts from my article, which includes tools to help you answer questions.  You must answer these questions before you buy a domain name.

14 Best Tips Before Buying Domain Names 

  1. Who is the current owner of the domain name you want to purchase? 

Is the person you’re purchasing the domain name from the rightful owner? Domain hijacking is a practice where someone steals the domain name someone else owns and tries to sell it to an unsuspecting buyer.  If the deal is too good to be true, it probably is.

  1. Is the domain name blacklisted?

Spammers will sometimes utilize domains to send their spam emails.  If they have used in the past, that domain maybe blacklisted by services which will negatively impact your business if you try to setup email with your domain name.

  1. Does the domain name pass the radio test?

The best domain names don’t require special instructions; is great, means you’ll have to spell it every single time you want to tell someone to visit your website or send you an email.

  1. What is the history of the domain name?

If the domain name you really want for your business has been an adult website in the past, you may find yourself attracting the wrong type of customers.

  1. What does the domain name look like in upper and lower case?

There’s the case of the psychologist who thought she scored the perfect domain name,  To her dismay, she realized that once she paid a hefty sum for the domain name, it could also be  Examine all combination of upper/lower case for your domain name carefully.

  1. What other Top Level Domains are available for the domain you want to purchase?

Examine all available TLDs available for registration or purchase, and TLDs that are already registered/owned that may have websites already on them.

  1. What are other similar domain names?

Examples could be and and  Again, look to see if these have websites on them and if they will be a competitor to your business.  These domains could easily siphon traffic from your website.

  1. Is the singular and plural version of the domain name already in use?

Consider the singular and plural version of your domain name, for example,, or  Once again, search and determine if these domain names are registered, and if they are, are there websites already present?

  1. Are there similar typo domain names in use?

Consider common misspellings of keywords in  Common examples include transposing letters in any part of your domain name, a prime example is – often typos are just two letters interchanged.  Once you’ve identified common typo-domain-names, search and determine if these domain names are registered, and if they are, are there websites already present?

  1. If I transpose the keywords in my domain name, is that domain name in use or available to purchase?

Extract the keywords for your domain name, in the example we’ve been providing, – the keywords are your domain and name.  Consider all the possible combinations and determine if there are active websites or perhaps future websites out there.,, are all examples.  Again, search and determine if these domain names are registered, and if they are, are there websites already present? How will this impact your business?

  1. What search results are there for the domain name I want to purchase?

This is a simple test that many simply forget – it takes less than five minutes and can prevent some headaches.

  1. What social media handles are available or taken for the domain name I want to purchase?

List all social media platforms you’re interested in utilizing, now and in the future, to determine if the name is available.

  1. What is the historical website traffic of the domain name I want to purchase?

The benefit of buying a domain that people are already searching for include saving you time, money and effort.  If people are typing in your domain name, this means they’re looking for a specific product or service they associate with this domain already.

  1. What are the search results for the keywords in the domain name I want to purchase?

Go to and search for yourDomainName – exclude the TLD.  You can expand this search by spacing out the key words, such as Your Domain Name.  You could learn something else about your domain name you haven’t even considered. Bob’s Tires may be synonymous with great brand name tires at a fair price in your town, but Bob Tyres may be a famous Reggae singer who has worldwide appeal.

You have used the information above to select one or more good domain names for your business.  Now, the domain buyers guide will help you understand where and how to buy a domain name.

Where Can I Buy a Domain Name?

domain buyers guide

You can buy a domain name from three different entities:

  • Registrar
  • Domain name auction site
  • Directly from the owner of the domain name

Next in the domain buyers guide, let’s dig in and provide you some additional details on these 3 entities you can purchase a domain name from.

How to Register a Domain Name

There are many legitimate domain name registrars such as GoDaddy, Dynadot, and NameCheap.  Take a peek at the domain tools page for a listing of common domain registrars to determine which is the best option for you.

Six steps to registering a domain name

  1. Search for domain name availability.  Go to the registrar’s site and search for the domain name you want to register.  If it’s available, add it to your cart.
  2. Create an account.  If you don’t have an account with that registrar, you will be prompted to create one now.
  3. Continue the checkout process.  Once you’ve registered for your account, you’ll most likely be redirected to your shopping cart to continue checkout.
  4. Add Contact Information.  As part of the checkout process you’ll need to add your Name, Phone Number, Email Address, and Mailing Address for the contact of the domain name.  If your registrar doesn’t offer free privacy protection, I’d suggest choosing a new registrar.  Some registrars charge fees for protecting your private information.
  5. Pay for the domain name.  You’ll be prompted to input a payment form and submit payment.
  6. Manage your domain.  After paying for your domain, you’ll probably be sent to a page where you can manage your domain.

It’s likely you’re unable to register a domain name because it’s already registered.  If that is the case, you can still buy the domain name.  Next in the domain buyers guide, let’s take a look at how to buy this premium domain from an auction site or the owner of the domain.

How to Buy a Domain that’s Already Registered

Premium Domains

If you want to buy a domain name that’s already registered, the domain name registrar may offer the domain name as a premium domain.  A premium domain is a domain name that is already registered but is listed for sale by the owner of the domain name.

Alternatively, some registrars like GoDaddy, have domain brokers that will reach out to the owner of domain names on your behalf.  The registrars typically charge a fee for this service.

godaddy premium domain

Alternatively, some domain owners list their domain names for sale on auction websites.  Let’s take a look at how to buy a domain name from an auction website.

Auction Sites

There are several auction sites to buy domain names, such as Sedo an NameJet.  You can find a more complete list of auction sites here.  To participate in an auction, you have to first register with the service then add a payment type.  Once you’ve registered, you can begin bidding.  Each auction site has different rules. Be certain to understand the auction rules, purchase price, terms of service and other fees before participating in the auction.

Owner of the Domain Name

If you navigate to a domain name that you’re interested in and there’s a page there stating the domain name is for sale, this most likely was placed there by the owner of the domain.  You can fill out the information on the contact form and submit and offer.  Sometimes these domain owners will list a buy-it-now price.  If you click buy it now then that will take you to a secure checkout process (usually or Paypal) where you can pay for the domain name.  Once you make a payment, the owner of the domain will be notified, and they will initiate the transfer of the domain.  Typically, they will reach out to you via your contact information to let you know the next steps you need to take.

If you’re uncomfortable buying a domain directly from the owner, then you can employ a domain broker.

Domain Buyers Agents (Domain Brokers)

Domain Brokers, or Domain Buyers Agents, are professionals who can help you procure a domain name.  A domain broker, like a real estate agent, helps the buyer and seller of the domain name come together to complete the process. Like a real estate agent, broker’s may walk their buyer’s through several domain name options, helping them find an appropriate domain name.  Once the broker and her buyer has identified one of more domain name to target, the broker will reach out to the seller and negotiate a deal.  The broker will see the deal through to the end, making sure the buyers funds are available and the seller transfers the domain name.  Here, you can find a list of domain brokers.

In conclusion, once you identify one or more domain names that would be suitable for you or your business, you’ll want to conduct some research on the domain name.  Once that is complete, you’ll need to purchase the domain name. You can purchase a domain name from a registrar, an auction site, or a domain owner.  You can even employ a domain broker to walk you through this process.  I hope this domain buyers guide delivered value to you, please comment below or contact me if you have any questions or comments.


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