Once you have a website, it is a good idea to register a domain name. Your domain name is what you can use to call your site, like “www.domain.com”. A domain name goes with you if you ever decide to use a different web hosting company. It is also a lot easier for users to remember. A nice side bonus is that if someone tries their luck trying to find your site by typing www.yoursite.com they have a good chance of finding it. It has gives your site a more respectable sounding name than something that rambles on and is impossible to remember.
Once you have decided to register a domain name, you will have to go through a registrar who will register the name with ICANN. ICANN is an organization that is responsible for managing IP addresses and domain names. Your web host can register the domain name for you and some will even cover the fee for you, though most will require you to pay the yearly fee. You must remember to renew every year or you will lose your domain name. While most web hosts are honest there have been those who will register the name for themselves making them the owner and allowing them to charge sky high fees for the name later.
It is of vital importance that you are the owner of your domain name. If you decide to change web hosts you will be able to take your domain name with you without having to pay a middle man to do it. It is also a good idea to set yourself as a technical contact. If your web host is your technical contact, they can take their time approving a transfer to another web host. Not all web hosts are this devious, but it is not unheard of. Remember that online, like in the real world, you have to look out for your own best interests. There are always those who will take advantage of people who are naive.
Domain names come and go without most of us ever being aware that they ever existed. You may have heard that all the good domain names have been taken. That is simply not true. It is true that a lot of the descriptive or specific names are gone. Once you have decided on a domain name, it is always better to act quickly. There is always the possibility that someone else could snap it up.