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Every week, join Whitney Quick as she helps you navigate life as a smart consumer. You'll cover everything in avoiding the latest scams, including phishing emails, medical equipment fraud, understanding layaway, hiring a reputable tax preparer, and even digital spring cleaning. Add to your toolbox and flip through your Consumer Handbook Thursdays during NPR’s Morning Edition at 6:42 a.m. and 8:42 a.m., only on KRCU.

Consumer Handbook: Buying A Domain Name

David Hilowitz/Flickr, License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode

Purchasing a domain name for a new business is a big and exciting step. There are several factors to keep in mind before buying a domain to promote the business. The first is to consider purchasing from a reputable registrar, and reflect on how a suggested URL will affect your business or project. 

Does the domain accurately reflect your business and what it does? Will customers understand the product or services you're providing? Whether your website is for a business, blog, or campaign, having a good domain name can make a big impact on the success of your endeavor. Take some time to brainstorm, thinking about the business or campaign name as well as other related terms and concepts. Write a list of any good ideas you come up with. This will come in handy when you begin a search for an available domain name. For a more professional looking domain name, keep it short, memorable, and avoid using hyphens. Before moving forward with the domain name, have a plan of action in case the domain name you need is unavailable. 

There are dozens of domain registrars to choose from. Carefully research their reputation before choosing one and pay attention to customer reviews. Some registrars offer very low prices on domain names, but hide additional fees in their contracts. Others try to upsell potential customers with extras and add-ons that aren't needed. Don’t give in to pressure to purchase unnecessary services.

Check the company’s “Terms of Service” for hidden fees, fees for services that are normally free, and overpriced renewal fees before finalizing a purchase. 

Watch out for directory scams. A common domain scam is to offer domain name owners registry in “directories” that will supposedly give you miraculous SEO improvement and boost your web traffic by leaps and bounds. The service can be costly, and being in a directory won’t necessarily have an effect on your SEO or web traffic.