Think of your domain name as the name of your website. It will be the calling card visitors use to find and explore your website, so it is important to create the best domain name possible. A good rule of thumb is to keep the domain name short and simple so people will be able to remember it easily. The domain name should contain a keyword related to your industry or simply be the name of your business.
Once you have decided on a domain name, you need to search to see if the website name is available. The easiest way to do that is to search the Whois database of all registered domains. The Whois database provides a domain’s current owner, its availability and its expiration date. If your domain name is not available, you might be able to contact the owner to purchase it from them or think up a new domain name.
1. Use a Free Domain Name Registrar
Freenom claims to be the world’s first free domain provider. Free domains work exactly like any other domain name with URL forwarding, free Freenom DNS Service or your own domain name service (DNS) or name servers. Domain extensions currently available for free registration are .TK/.ML/.GA/.CF/.GQ. Unlike paid sites, owners of Freenom’s free domains do not have transfer rights.
GetFreeDomain.Name and Dot TK also provide free domains with DNS support, so you can host them wherever you prefer. The free domain registrars are not recommended for anything other than personal use. The lack of security and email addresses as well as the website’s unprofessional look does not make free domains a suitable option for business sites.
2. Get a Free Domain Name With a Web Hosting Plan
Free domain names and professional email addresses are often included in web hosting bundles. If you are planning on using WordPress to build your website, you might consider using Bluehost as your hosting service. Not only does WordPress endorse Bluehost, the hosting service includes a free new domain registration for customers’ first year.
Other services, such as Hostinger, HostGator and InMotion Hosting, all offer similar first-year free domain registration as part of their hosting packages. Other features typically included in hosting packages are a secure sockets layer (SSL), unlimited bandwidth, marketing tools, automatic backups and security features. Hosting prices vary but can start for as little as $2.99 a month for the first year.
Learn more about the best web hosting services, including information on which include a free domain name.
3. Get a Free Domain Name With An All-In-One Website Builder
In addition to hosting services, all-in-one website builders, such as Wix, Weebly and Squarespace often include a free domain for the user’s first year. These website builders are popular because they allow users without any coding experience to build professional-looking websites by using customizable templates with drag-and-drop features.
While they are generally more expensive than building a WordPress website through a hosting provider, they are much easier to navigate for the average user. Most popular website builders’ paid plans include a free domain for 12 months. Unlike hosting plans, professional email addresses may not be available on all plans. For more information, check out our article on the best website builders.
What To Expect After Registering Your New Domain
Once you register your domain name with either a free plan, hosting service or website builder, it typically takes 24 to 72 hours to become active. This is the length of time the DNS takes to replicate the name worldwide. After 48 hours your domain will be included in the Whois database, which is a public record of all domain registrations. The database allows anyone to search the IP owner information of every registered website on the internet. It also gives new website owners the ability to find out if their idea of a domain name is available for registration and, if not, when the current registration for that name expires.
Generally, you cannot transfer a domain name during the first 60 days after registration. This is the length of time the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) requires domain providers to lock most domains after registration. Freenom is the world’s only free domain provider.
Your best bet for a free, professional-looking website is with a hosting service or a web builder. Along with the domain, both offer great features, such as website templates, free security, e-commerce features and more. Remember that free domain registration usually is only free for the first year or two before an annual fee kicks in. Learn more about how to register a domain name.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best option to get a free domain for my business website?
While companies, such as Freenom and Dot TK, offer free domains, they are not secure nor do they look professional. For a free business website, your best bet is to sign up with a hosting provider or website builder that offers a free domain to new users. Keep in mind that the free domain is usually just for the first year or the length of the initial contract.
What happens if I want to switch hosting providers? Can I still keep my domain name?
Absolutely. Once you have registered your domain with a hosting service or website builder you can transfer that domain to a new hosting service or website builder. Transferred domains are often free for one year. However, it is important to note that the ICANN requires domain providers to lock most domains for 60 days after registration so you will not be able to transfer your domain within its first 60 days.
What are the best domain name registrars?
There are a number of great ways to register a domain, including web hosting providers, such as DreamHost or GoDaddy and all-in-one website builders, such as Squarespace or Wix. However, if you’re looking to solely register a new domain, the best domain name registrars include Namecheap, Domain.com and Google Domains. Learn more about the best domain name registrars.