The two basic pieces of any website are the domain and the host. Think of starting a physical business – the office building is your webhost and the domain is your address. It’s the url people will use to find your website. It may sound technical, but registering your domain is actually pretty simple.
First, you have to choose what you want for the address.
Then you’ve got a plethora of options to register it. Even though it’s a simple process, not all registrars are the same. Some charge more than others. Some make it difficult to manage your account. Often, your web host will offer to register it for free (both BlueHost and KVC offer hosting and free domain registration).
And though that may be tempting, I’ve found it’s better to keep the domain registration separate from the web hosting. The biggest reason is if you ever choose to transfer to a different host, you don’t have to worry about also transferring your domain. It’s also a whole lot simpler if you end up with multiple websites (and therefore multiple domains).
I’ve changed web hosts several times over the years for the different sites and blogs I’ve owned. But the only reason I’ve transferred my domains is because I left the web host and got tired of signing into old accounts or trying to keep track of all the different places each domain was registered. It might not be anything you ever need to worry about, or need to worry about now. But having my domains in one location independent from whatever host I choose makes the whole thing nice and simple.
And Google makes domain registration super simple.
You probably already have a gmail address. So, registering a domain is one more service Google offers you have access to without needing to create an account anywhere.
At $12/month, Google is as inexpensive as any other registrar (and less than some).
In addition to keeping the registration process simple, and offering competitive pricing, Google will make your registration information private for free. You should TOTALLY make your information private.
BlueHost (as an example) will charge you $1/month to make your information private.
So, in the first year they’re going to cost the same.
The second year, though, you’ll have to pay BlueHost both the domain renewal fee and the monthly private fee. Which makes Google the better deal in the long run (not by much… we’re talking $1 a month… but why not save yourself the money and go out for lunch one day).
Registering your domain
Head over to Google Domains and enter the address name you chose. Google will walk you through the steps to purchase the domain. The only thing you’ll need, other than your email address (and a credit card but whatever), is a mailing address.
This is where I’m going to seriously suggest you get a PO Box
You don’t want to enter your home address all over the internet for any of your website accounts. PO Boxes cost anywhere from $50 – $100/year which you do pay upfront. But for basically $8/month it’s an inexpensive privacy measure. (I’m not sure what different countries offer that is equivalent to a US PO Box but you should do that – whatever you can do to have a mailing address that is not your home.)
Linking Google Domains and your web host
If you’ve already setup your web host, connecting your domain and your host is a simple final step.
You will have received a welcome email from your web host that contains “Name Server” information. Go to Google Domains and click “Manage my domains” at the top right. Click the icon of two stacked boxes in the columns to the right of your domain and enter the name server information from your web host. It may take up to 24 hours to sync up that connection but it’s usually much less.
Or if you want more choices, head over to the tutorial page to see all eight steps to create a blog you’ll love!