Buying a Domain Name for the First Time? Avoid These 5 Newbie Mistakes

Are you a first time domain name buyer? Hold on to your cash and read this first. You can’t wait to register your very first domain name. In this day and age, you know you need to have an online presence – for yourself or for your business. You’ve been tossing ideas in your head for days, and finally you wake up this morning, feeling terrific and 100% sure, that you found the ONE. So do you quickly jump back online and register before someone else beats you to your perfect domain?

Okay, take a deep breath, relax. A domain name is an investment, and like with any other investment, you need to take some precautions to avoid committing mistakes that often befall newbie domain name buyers.

Photo Credit:Lauren Manning via Compfight cc

Mistake #1:  Rushing and buying impulsively

Just because it sounds good to you, doesn’t always mean it is a good domain name. First, do your research. List down at least three domain ideas so if your first choice isn’t available, you have others to fall back on. There are many free tools online that help you brainstorm for good domain names, such as:

  • NameTumbler
  • Domainr
  • Bustaname

Then ask an objective, reliable party (meaning, not your doting mom or your number one fan) if your domain sounds right. Better hear a brutally honest opinion than waste your money on a tragically comic domain name.


Mistake #2: Registering really long, complicated or hard to spell domains

Your domain should be unique, memorable, and descriptive of you or your business. If you’re a lawyer, you can register a name with keywords like law, lawyer, attorney, etc. However, don’t go overboard and stuff your domain with all sorts of keywords. For instance, “” might be descriptive, but would be painful for anyone to type or remember.

Rule of thumb: if it doesn’t roll easily off your tongue, is hard to explain to others, and is easy to forget because it’s so generic, then find alternatives.

This year though, you don’t have to fight tooth and nail for prime .COM domain names.  Now there aren’t just 22 domain extensions (.COM, .NET, .WS, etc.). but dozens of new descriptive extensions, with hundreds more to come. For example, if you’re a photographer, you can opt for YOURDOMAIN.PHOTOGRAPHY instead of YOURDOMAINPHOTOGRAPHY.COM. If you’re an agency, you instead of a .COM, you can have .AGENCY.

Check with your favorite domain registrar for the latest available domain extensions because these will keep coming.


Mistake #3: Infringing upon trademarks and brand names

Let’s say you’re a fan of a Hollywood celebrity – say, Angelina Jolie. If you’re not Angelina Jolie, or an authorized representative, best not to register,, or any other extensions. The same is true for commercial brands like Coke, McDonald’s, Nike, Samsung, etc. If you’re not careful, your $10 or so investment could easily become a $100,000 mistake.

According to ICANN, the governing body for domain names, you are potentially infringing on any trademark and someone can file a complaint against you if:

  • your domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights
  • you have no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name
  • your domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.


To check if the domain you’d like to register is already trademarked, you can search the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or run an online search query, for example, “ trademark”.


A bit of caution can save you a lot of trouble down the road. Here’s some additional reading if you’re interested to know more about the law behind this.


Mistake #4: Not carefully choosing your registrar

Domain names are a big business, and companies of all sizes from all over the world offer registration services. As a beginner, play it safe and do business with well-known registrars with long track record. You might pay a bit more, but remember that these companies already have the resources and infrastructure to guarantee the security of your domain investment with them.

Newer registrars may give you lower prices but think of what the trade-off might be. Are you buying your domain name cheap but paying dearly for future security vulnerabilities, bad service, and frequent DNS outages that bring down your website?

Regardless of the registrar’s size, make sure to look beyond the price. Here’s a quick list of what you should look for in registrars:

  • Price
  • Services & Spin-Off Services
  • Private Registration
  • Where the Registrar is located geographically and juristically
  • Reputation
  • Possibility of getting actual invoices
  • Support
  • Experience
  • Technical Platform

Learn more about this on our domains and registrars guide.

Mistake #5: Not immediately securing your domain

Your domain name is an asset, so take extra care to secure it from anyone who might want to steal it from you. Domain names get stolen or hijacked, especially if yours sounds attractive.

Domain thieves can steal the email address you used as administrative or technical contact for the domain registration, or hack directly into your registrar account through insecure login credentials. Be very careful and use strong passwords, use a secure email address, and subscribe to your registrar’s privacy registration services that mask your details that appear on the public Whois records.


Now you are better informed to buy domains like a pro. Have fun picking your domain name!

Written 2014-04-01 (Updated 2016-10-10)
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Written by David Walsh

David Walsh is the editor in chief here at Web Hosting Search. Having been in the industry for many years now he knows pretty much everything about everything. At least that's what he keeps telling everyone at the office. So, don't hesitate to drop him a line  if you've got a question - david(a)

Share your thoughts

Myra Johnson,  1 May, 2016

Thank you for your expertise on the subject of domain names and areas surrounding it.
Newbie searching.

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