Registering a Domain Name
You will most likely want to register your own domain so people can connect to your website at your unique web address (yoursite.com), rather than showing up as a subdirectory (sites.google.com/site/yoursite) or subdomain (yoursite.wixsite.com) of your host’s domain. Although you can often buy a domain through the same company that hosts your website, I have found it’s best to buy your domains from a separate domain registrar. This can prevent problems if you later decide to change your hosting provider, since there will be no question that you own the domain yourself.
If you already have a business name, you’ll need to find an available domain name that represents your business. Most of the major domain registrars have a search box you can use to check if a domain name is available, and will offer alternative suggestions if the one you want is taken.
Domain registrars vary in price so it’s a good idea to shop around first. Here are some I have used:
Some registrars offer phone support but most have only online help available, which is usually fine if you are comfortable with that. Some include domain privacy protection bundled in with your domain purchase, and with some you’ll pay extra. Domain privacy, or WHOIS, protection is helpful for keeping your personal registration information hidden from the public database. There are pros and cons to using this service, but that’s a subject for another article.
During the checkout process a lot of registrars will offer additional services you don’t need, so that’s something to watch out for. They can make it easy for you to mistakenly sign up for a hosting package when you plan to use a separate hosting provider.
Most site builder platforms will also allow you to use your own domain to point to a site hosted by them. On Wix and Weebly you can’t do this with a free account - you have to upgrade to a premium plan. Squarespace doesn’t offer a free tier, but also allows you to use your own domain on all tiers they offer. However, they suggest that you buy your domain from them or transfer your domain to them if you already have one, which I would not recommend.